Pico Island Guide
Azores Islands Archipelago: A Portuguese Sanctuary
The Azores are a group of islands in the middle of the Northen side of the Atlantic, closer to the Portugal Coastline, of a ravishing beauty, with their seemingly untouched landscapes.
Nine volcanic islands where contrasts blend together to then separate and meet again, where the abudant virgin shades of green from the luxuriant vegetation dissolves in the dark browns of the rocky volcanic terrains, where the blue sky, turquoise waters, golden rays of sun and kaleidoscopic image of the multitude of flowers around the islands, will make any traveller want to stay there forever.
Pico Island: Ilha Preta, The Black Island
Pico Island or the Black Island (Ilha Preta, in portuguese) is somehwere in the core of Azores and is the land of the highest mountain in Portugal, that is also a volcano: Ponta do Pico.
Its black attribute comes from the appeareance of the volcanic soil on the island that originates in the eruptions of the volcano that occured in the past.
The capital of the island is Madalena, the place where you need to land if you come by air.
The first impression one can get when arriving to Pico Island, by air, especially, is that everything on the island: houses, churches, fields, vineyards are made of black lava rocks. But, once you start becoming part of the picture you discover a misty atmosphere, with african-like twisted trees, glimpses of far away jungle and ocean and a distant, massive mountain with its summit encircled by white fog. You start feeling like in one of the movies about The Lost World, but don't expect to see T-Rex around, though you mind find some dishes you just can't touch.
Pico Island: Swim in the Rock Pools
Although I should talk first about the spectacular coastline of the Pico Island, its churches, picturesque villages, houses on top of cliffs, marvelous landscapes or hikes to the top of the volcano, I find that Pico Island rock pools are not something very common so they worth to be discusses first, as one of the best activities.
The lava-sculpted, rock pools, naturally created, looking like a rough, black lagoon, enhanced by the travel business owners on the island, can provide some relaxing moments or a swim. The Pico Island beaches lack the white sand that all travel agencies brag about when they sell you an Azores Holiday, instead there is a rocky, black sand, the seawater is deep and usually quite cold, so the rock pools are a great alternative, as most of them are on the coastline.
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What to do in Pico Island
This island of the Azores is just charming with its virgin scenary, bonzai dwarf trees, vineyards, rock pools, high volcano, green fields and healthy cows. It is an island where you can relax and enjoy the fresh air and killer views that unfold before your eyes at every step.
Here is a short list of Pico Island where to go and what to do highlights:
- Pico Volcano with an altitude of 2351 meters is worth a hike.
- Whaler museums in Lajes, Sao Joao and Sao Roque are the testimony of the history of whale hunting on the Pico Island.
- Wine tasting in Madalena and visiting the UNESCO protected wine country in Lajido, Cabrito and Madalena.
- Visit "Gruta das Torres ", the longest lava tube in Europe.
- Pico features the best rock pools in the Azores. You should check out S. Prainha, S. Roque, Santo Antonio and Madalena.
- Wine tasting in Madalena and Lajido's "Museu do Vinho".
- Whale observation in Sao Joao and Lajes.
- Aldeia da Fonte. A "nature" hotel with its offering of excellent organic cuisine and wellness activities such as yoga.
Pico Island has some history on winemaking, the begining being somewhere in the mid 15th century and is now a world heritage spot, as the Pico Wine is famous for its quality.
Pico has only a few wineries. Most of the island's wines are made at the Cooperativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico in Madalena, which makes fortified verdelho wines (Lajido) as well as regional wines and table wines under the Terras de Lava, Frei Gigante and Basalto labels.