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.
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.
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.
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.
When the sun does shine the coastline is extremely beautiful, with inaccessible bays and prominent headlands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.