Flores – The Very Edge of Europe


Azores Getaways

 

If you travel to Faja Grande on the island of Flores, you have reached the westernmost point of Europe.  Though geologically you are already in North America.  The islands of the Azores were all formed by volcanic activity on the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  Flores lies on the North American plate, and is very slowly drifting towards America.

Volcanic beach on Flores, The Azores

Volcanic beach on Flores island

Flights arrive at Santa Cruz, where there are a small number of guest houses and hotels.   Faja Grande on the west of the Island also makes a great base.  There is a charming harbour, a few restaurants and some very good guesthouses.  We stayed at Argonauta, which I would highly recommend for its character and knowledgeable owners.  It also provided the best breakfast of the holiday – simple but delicious, with decent coffee!

For more information on transport and accommodation see Azores Practicalities.

Mysterious Landscapes

The Azores are actually an autonomous region of Portugal, but because of their isolation they feel very different.  And Flores is arguably the most different of all.  The predominantly humid climate coupled with volcanic features has resulted in a mysterious island, often shrouded in mist, with a distinctly lost-world feel.

Waterfalls near Fajazinha, Flores, The Azores

Waterfalls near Fajazinha, Flores

Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa, Flores, The Azores

Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa crater lakes

Basalt columns, Flores, The Azores

Basalt columns and hydrangeas

Flores is a great island to explore on foot, with all manner of interesting geological features.  For details of walks on the island see Landscapes of The Azores.

Be prepared for humid conditions – this is the most humid island in the Azores, which accounts for the lush vegetation.  It is frequently shrouded in low cloud and mist, which adds to its mystique.  Of course this can also make travelling difficult, and disrupt SATA flight schedules.  But it is worth risking delays to be able to explore this unique and remote place.

Waterfall, Flores, The Azores

One of many waterfalls

Flores coastline, The Azores

Coastline near Lajes das Flores

Terraces at Fajazinha, Flores, The Azores

Terraces at Fajazinha

When the sun does shine the coastline is extremely beautiful, with inaccessible bays and prominent headlands.

Flores coast, The Azores

Flores Coastline

View to Lajes das Flores, The Azores

View to Lajes das Flores – note the tree heather and hydrangeas

Lajes das Flores, The Azores

Lajes das Flores

Strange Noises in the Night

During our first night on Flores we were disturbed by eerie noises which definitely added to the strangeness of the place.  Bizarre wailing cries seemed to be coming from just above the roof of our guesthouse, and echoing around the room.

When we asked about these the next morning we discovered that they were made by Cory’s shearwaters, which breed on the islands.  They visit their burrows at night to minimise predation, which is when their calls fill the air.

Cory’s shearwater

Corvo – The Smallest Island

Whilst staying on Flores, it is definitely worth visiting the neighbouring island of Corvo.  There is a scheduled ferry service, but it is far more exciting to take a boat trip from Santa Cruz.  The trip first travels along the coast of Flores to see some fantastic caves, arches and other coastal features, before heading for Corvo.  There is a chance of seeing dolphins if you are lucky.

Cave on Flores coast, The Azores

Cave seen on boat trip to Corvo

The trip allows time to walk to Corvo’s crater rim.  Unfortunately when we did this the mist closed in, so we were not able to appreciate the (apparently) wonderful view!  If you are short of time you can take a minibus to the crater rim and simply walk back down.

 Vila do Corvo, The Azores

Vila do Corvo – the only community on Corvo

It takes time and effort to get to Flores and Corvo, but you will not regret it.  These beautiful and unusual islands will remain in your memory.
Lagoa Funda, Flores, The Azores

Lagoa Funda

Feeding Heron, Flores, The Azores

Feeding heron

Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.

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