11 Awesome Things To Do in Faial
Faial is an incredible island with so much to do, especially when it's summertime. Since living in Pico, I think we've visited 4 times, that's how much we enjoy it. Here are some of the things we've experienced that I 100% recommend doing during your trip to Faial.
p.s I may add more to this list as I visit more things around the island :)
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64 years ago was Azores’s most recent volcano eruption - yes my grandparents were here to see it! The eruption happened on the west side of the island of Faial.
In the town of Capelinhos now lies a really cool info-center where you can see the newest addition of land the volcano made and connected the island. Inside the info-center you can see and watch simulations of how the eruption was and learn a whole lot about the explosion.
Entry is free for residents and I believe 5-7€ for non-residents.
The eruption started in the water, slowly making its way to sea level where magma was slowly creating the newest addition to the island. For 13 months it was erupting, and many people were affected by the dust from the erupting volcano.
I don’t want to give away too much of what you’ll learn because I 100% recommend you go here. The view is incredible and the story is fascinating!
Sunbathe at Praia da Faja
The town of Praia da Norte is home to my favourite beach in Faial - Praia da Faja. We stumbled upon this hidden gem randomly - we saw a sign saying “Praia do Norte” we thought "oh, cool another beach" and we ended up at one of the most beautiful spots on the island in my opinion.
It reminded me a lot of São Miguel island and a beach I adore there called Caloura Beach. The high cliffs filled with trees in the background, the long stretch of beach, the strong waves dancing in and out - this was the spot. Unfortunately, the day we went we were pretty full and the waves looked pretty aggressive so we decided to skip the water, but just being there, was like going to a retreat.
If you get hungry, I’d recommend leaving the area and finding another restaurant as we did not have that good of an experience at the pizza snack bar near the beach.
Hike Around the Caldeira
A caldeira is basically the remains of a volcano that has over time collapsed in itself due to being really old. What you’re left with is a beautiful crater with a flat centre, normally filled with water or lakes.
The caldeira in Faial is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It’s giant! Photos do not do it justice.
We learned with a tour guide that not too long ago you were allowed to hike all the way down and people would have parties, camp in tents overnight, and have picnics with groups of friends. Due to people leaving garbage and the human impact, many species inside the caldeira were slowly dying. So now no one is allowed down to the crater floor as over 50 % of species of plants native to Azores lies on the crater floor.
There’s also a 2-hour hike around the entire caldeira which I am sooo excited to do hopefully by the end of this year!
Spend an Afternoon at Praia do Porto Pim
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A quick drive from the ferry terminal lies one of the main attractions in Faial, and rightfully so. Praia do Porto Pim is a beautiful stretch of beach enclosed in a dome-like shape of the island, where the water is always an aqua blue.
The beach’s coast is filled with restaurants bustling with people, mostly tourists, making it a place you have to visit in Faial. The water is normally very clean but some days you’ll find other beaches with better water. Please try the quiche (tuna quiche is what we had) at “Café Porto Pim”.
There is also a beautiful viewpoint at the top of Praia do Porto Pim, where there’s a beautiful chapel - it’s an incredible spot for photos.
Swim at Praia do Almoxarife
Possibly the beach with the best view on the island is Praia do Almoxarife. Its view is Pico straight on! The beach has a snack bar and a few restaurants around it, and it’s almost always full. It’s a huge stretch of beach and somehow the water temperature is always pretty warm here! There are change rooms and showers and for those who don’t want sand, there’s also a spot with just flat lava rocks to lay on.
Adventure Through Poça das Asas
This hidden gem is a waterfall spot, but there’s also a trail you can do too! Make sure you take the main roads as we ended up on some pretty steep and bumpy side roads to get here.
The waterfall only flows when there has been heavy rainfall so we didn’t get to see it but being there immersed in the forest with the dried up rock river of where the water flows was beautiful. We intend on doing the trail some day as we didn’t come prepared to hike that time but the trail looks fantastic.
Take a Photo at Miradouro de Nossa Senhora da Conceição
This miradouro or “golden viewpoint” is a must see when in Faial. It’s a 5 minute drive from the centre but you get the entire view of Horta and the harbour as well as a clear view of Mount Pico. On a sunny day this spot is one of the most photogenic places to be.
Stroll Through the Botanical Garden
The Faial Botanical Garden is so beautiful. You first watch a 10 minute clip that teaches you so much about how the garden started and why it’s so cool. I don’t want to ruin too much but there’s a lot of native species of the Azores that they keep and take care of at the garden. You’ll also stroll through a bunch of beautiful plants and common medicinal herbs that you probably use or have heard of, but you get to see them growing - like Tobacco for instance.
There’s also an entire area specifically for orchids of all different colours and you can watch them at each growing stage.
I recommend trying their tea in the little café they have. It’s refreshing and unique!
Entry is free for residents of Portugal, otherwise it’s like 5-10€ for entry.
Swim at Porto do Salão
Porto do salão is a piscina natural, aka a natural swimming pool, on the north coast of Faial. It’s such a serene and private spot, but beware it comes with quite the walk down a long set of stairs, which you eventually have to come back up on :))
The water is so clean you can see the rocks from meters up on the road. It’s absolutely stunning and the perfect way to spend an afternoon. There is also a camping ground just near the entrance where you can set up tents and stay the night!
Cheese Taste at Queseria O Morro
We stumbled onto this cheese factory on Google and heard about the cheese “O Morro” before because it’s Faial’s signature cheese.
We decided to drive to it (about 35 minutes away from Horta) and the entire way there we got drenched in rain. When we got there, we were told that normally there’s a bigger selection and tasting that happens but since the rain had stopped most people from coming in, we had a little private tour instead.
The gentleman took us through the entire process of making the cheese, from boiling and skimming the milk to pouring it into the circular modes, then changing from fridge to fridge with different temperatures so that it solidifies perfectly into their famous cheese. We got to try a sample of their original flavour and we were blown away.
It’s no wonder this cheese has been recognized in multiple magazines, and is sold in New York for about $29 USD per small circular cheese. We bought some cheese and enjoyed it with family when we got back.
An interesting tip we learned is that if we let it stay a while in the fridge the top of the cheese will begin to cave in and apparently that’s when it’s the most delicious - although I can’t see it getting much better than that!
Enjoy Nightlife in Faial
Nightlight in Faial is popping!! There’s always something to do, whether it be a festival on the water or a sure spot near the marina. I’m still not sure how to find out about festivals before actually getting in Faial, because everything I search on the internet there’s not much info, and as soon as we arrive there are posters of different things happening everywhere.
My favourite places at night that you have to go to in Faial are the famous Peter’s Café and Oceanic! You can either sit inside Peter's Café which is totally awesome filled with flags of different countries and nic-nacks that people have brought from all across the world, or enjoy their huge patio out front. Note that anything you order outside has an extra service charge on the bill. Please do not leave without trying a “gin do mar”! It’s a gin & tonic made with their very own gin which is made from passion fruit! It is my favourite gin & tonic of all time - oh and it’s only about €3 so treat yourself to a couple ;)
Oceanic is just a minute walk from Peters Café. It can sometimes be missed by the outside but don’t let that fool you. The place is huuuuge! They have an outdoor terrace outback where DJ’s or bands play and it’s always full on a weekend night. There are two bars, plenty of seating and the vibe is very fun for a night out! Drinks like gin & tonic can be kind of expensive compared to other places so maybe come after you’ve had a drink or two at Peters Café.
I hope you get to cross all of these off the list on your visit to Faial. They're absolutely incredible experiences that anyone can enjoy.
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Have a great Sunday evening! xoxo