The island of Pico is a small mountain island that is just 150 miles north-west of the island of Sao Miguel. The island is known for its volcanic landscape and the unique wines that are produced on this small volcanic island in the Atlantic. The grape vineyards here on Pico were designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2004 due to the historical context of its wine production. It’s here that the impressive black lava stone walls; which were built centuries ago to avoid the perils of the unpredictable Atlantic weather patterns have withstood the sands of time. This has allowed the grape vineyards to be sheltered from various elements that might otherwise damage the harvest; protecting the delicate grapes. Here you can explore the winery while sampling some of their local vintages and admiring the history of wine cultivation on the island in their museum and gift shop. The outstanding lookout point which overlooks the entire winery with sweeping ocean views that are paired with the black lava stone walls that go as far as the eye can see makes this truly a unique UNESCO World Heritage site to visit. The island of Pico is known in the Azores and internationally for its unique wines such as the popular ‘vinho verde’ known as the green wine. Although the region has never been considered a mainstream favorite for wine production they were a favorite of the last Russian Czar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. It is said that they would special order cases of the prized wines and have them shipped to Russia in large crates by boat. It was during the Russian revolution when the guards invaded the palace that they discovered the numerous cases of wines from Pico in the Czar’s private cellar. Pico has the tallest mountain in Portugal and is considered the largest mountain in the world if you measured it from the base on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean to the top of its peak. It is a favorite amongst hikers and sports enthusiasts and is able to be climbed throughout the year without any rock climbing gear as the paths that lead to the top are accessible. It is recommended to bring gloves and a jacket as the temperature on the top of the peak is different than that on the lowlands of the island and tends to be slightly chilly. The best time to do the hike is just before sunrise where you still have the benefit of the thousands of stars guiding your trail and to be able to watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain is an experience of a lifetime and will be something you will never forget. The local herbs and berries produced on the island make some very unusual but tasty liquors that are sold throughout the island and are a must when experiencing this beautiful island. It’s not all liquors and wines here on Pico, with many of the most outstanding water excursions taking place on this small island paradise. Here you can find 21 different species of whales and dolphins along the coast. The ocean surrounding the Azores is deemed safe due to the strict laws imposed by the regional government which bans any sort of whaling or improper fishing. There are some highly reputable local tour companies that offer to take you right up close to a safe distance to these beautiful ocean mammals. The capital city of the Island is Madalena with a population of just a few thousand residents makes this is a safe and fun city to visit. The small island capital is filled with history and charm; with a number of religious and cultural festivals taking place here year after year for over a century. The most popular time to visit the island of Pico is in the spring and summer months when the weather is ideal; as the winter months here are usually plagued with heavy amounts of rain and overcast. The small city center has many unique restaurants that serve the traditional local cuisine as well as some international restaurants that have opened up recently that offer some of the island’s finest local ingredients in various contemporary recipes. It is recommended to try the local seafood as it is caught fresh daily and is a major economic sector of the island due to its high-quality fish from the North Atlantic waters.No matter what you decide to do on the island of Pico you are sure to get a truly authentic Azorean experience with this being one of the most unspoiled regions in Europe. The relaxed island lifestyle, great food, and abundance of picturesque landscapes make this an island you must explore when visiting the Azores.