Basketball Size Hydrangeas on The ‘Blue Island’ in the Azores
The island of Faial is located in the central group of the Azores archipelago, and is part of the “triangle islands”, together with São Jorge and the neighboring Island of Pico which is separated by the Faial Channel; a narrow sea inlet which is about 8 km wide. The Island covers an area of about 172km2, and is 21 km long, with a width of 14km. This small but beautiful island was given the name Faial because there were so many beech trees (faias) here when the Portuguese explorers first arrived on the island in the 15th century. There is something very unique about this island that the world is slowly starting to discover, the abundance and colors of hydrangeas that adorn this Atlantic island. Although the hydrangea flower is the national flower of the Azores islands there is no other island in the region that can boast such a huge mass of hydrangeas in different shades of blue, which frame the houses, separate the fields and border the roads, which has given the island the reputation as the Blue Island. The majestic and awe-inspiring colors that overwhelm this small island is truly one of the most beautiful sights to see. The hydrangea season varies but generally begins at the end of April beginning of May and lasts until early September. The 3 symbols of the island of Faial are the blue hydrangeas, the windmills, and of course the famous marina which brings in international sailors from all over the globe due to its strategic location in the Mid-Atlantic. Faial is known for its outstanding seafood and amazing dairy sector. Although a small island in terms of size and population don’t let this small economy fool you, here the quality of life is simple but beautiful. The lifestyle on an island is very different than on a continent where time and people move fast. The slow island rhythm that exists here is something the local people enjoy where no traffic jams or immediate need to get things done quickly exists. A place where the roads are lined with hydrangea shrubs some 8-12 feet tall and round like a big ball on a long chain-like fence of hydrangeas. The colors vary depending on the acidity level in the soil and the general colors are various shades of blue, purple, white, and pink. The first thing people comment on when visiting this island is how many shades of blue the hydrangeas are. Some deep blue, some baby blue, some even a deep purplish-blue that mix with the endemic and native flora and fauna on the island making this the perfect spot to relax in paradise. Faial was the last location of any sort of major volcanic activity in the Azores when Capelinhos erupted in 1957 adding 1 km of land to the island. Today, you can visit this unique site that has an interactive museum that you can admire and marvel at the power of the eruption which engulfed a whole village in 5 meters of volcanic ash. This area resembles the surface of the moon almost which is in stark contrast to the hydrangea-lined roads that exist on the rest of the island.
Top Things to Explore on Faial Island:
- Marina da Horta
- Museu da Horta
- Vulcão dos Capelinhos – Faial
- Praia do Almoxarife
- Zona Balnear do Varadouro
- Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo
- Igreja Matriz do Santíssimo Salvador
- Castelo de São Sebastião
- Jardim Botânico
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