Day out on Faial

We hired a car, not too expensive. First we made for the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre. This is on the newest part of the island formed when the volcano erupted 1957-8. The lighthouse keeper had a ringside view as a couple of small islands were formed and later linked to the mainland. The amazing centre is built underground where the volcano erupted. We had the whole place to ourselves no other visitors, one guy outside taking pictures. Then we could climb up to the top of the lighthouse (now disused), fantastic views of course.

Next we drove across the centre of the island to go to the central caldeira. This may have been a mistake – there is a reasonable road around the coast but across the centre you find yourself on very small and sometimes rough roads. Unfortunately the cloud had come down. There is a path all round the crater rim, but with no visibility we just had our picnic lunch and drove down. We saw just one other car.

Next the Botanic Gardens, saw one other car that was probably getting as confused with Googlemap directions as we were. Faial is full of fantastic blue Hydrangeas, they are beautiful and line all the roadsides, but they are an invasive imported species. The Botanic gardens (again no other visitors) do a lot of valuable conservation work of endangered species (e.g the Azores Forget-me-not) seed preservation etc. The layout of the garden is very attractive, but it looks like a work in progress, one problem being that they only use native Azorean plants which are much smaller and less showy than the imports.

Lastly we went to the beach at Praia do Almoxarife where the weather was a bit better – black sands, clear water and a nice church and gardens.

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