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GETTING TO PICO ISLAND
The regional airlines SATA Air Açores flies daily to Pico, departing from the airports of Ponta Delgada and Lajes in Terceira. From Terceira, the flight takes about 40 minutes, and 60 minutes from S. Miguel. There is also a ferry between the islands; departing from Faial, it lasts 15 minutes, and 30 minutes departing from S. Jorge. The time indicated refers to the company that has the fastest boats, so the journey can take more time in other companies. A visitor can get information at the hotel, travel agencies, at the office of the sea lines companies referred in this guide.

LOCALISATION
Located 28ş 30’N and 28ş 20’ W, Pico Island is 8, 3 km (4, 5 miles) distant from Faial and 20, 4 km (11 miles) from S. Jorge Island. Its surface is of 447 sq km (172, 6 sq miles), with 42 km (22, 7 miles) length and 15 km (8 miles) width.

DISCOVERY AND SETTLEMENT
It is uncertain when Pico Island was discovered although it was already inhabited in 1460; its settlement began in Lajes do Pico, the first municipality of the island.

TRANSPORTS
Car rentals, taxis or the bus lines are at disposal. The bus lines cover the main village-places on the island, and the bus stops are in Machado Serpa Avenue in Madalena municipality, in front of the Whalers’ Museum in Lajes, and in front of the old fishing port in S. Roque.

PLACES TO VISIT

Pico Mountain Climbing - with 2351 metres of altitude, Pico is the highest elevation of the Portuguese territory. It is a challenge for those who have a good physical condition and spirit of adventure. The peak offers a spectacular view over the other islands of the central group of the Archipelago. To climb the mountain, you should be accompanied by a qualified guide; otherwise you’ll be in serious danger. Information is available in specialised companies, at the fire brigade headquarters and at your lodging.

Museu do Vinho - it’s a wine museum that tells the story of the wine production in this island.

Adega Cooperativa is the place where “verdelho” is produced, the wine that was so appreciated by czars. It welcome its visitors with a wine tasting of “Lajido”, a quality certified wine, the ex-libris of the municipality.

Arcos do Cachorro is a rocky formation resembling the face of a dog (cachorro in Portuguese). The sea enters in the several tunnels made by erosion, provoking interesting effects. Also in the area, an electrical centre was built, which produces energy with the power of the waves.

Quinta das Rosas is a forest park with several exotic plants.

Museu Industrial, a museum located in S. Roque do Pico, is settled in a former factory, exhibiting instruments used in the transformation of whales into flour and oil.

Capităo, Caiado and Paul lagoons are zones of beautiful sceneries.

Mistérios de Santa Luzia, Praínha and S. Joăo, resulting from volcanic eruptions that occurred in the sea, are lava formations that moved and attached to the island.

Furna de Frei Matias is an interesting place nearby Madalena Village.

Santo Amaro is a place that had a great importance in naval construction; even in the present time, some small industries of naval repairs still remain. You must also pay a visit to the Handicraft School.

Piedade - visit the park Matos Souto, where rare plant species grow.

Miradouro da Terra Alta is a belvedere located in the road that goes round the island by the north side. From there, one can admire S. Jorge Island and the Pico’s countryside in its forestry richness.

Calheta do Nesquim is a small fishing village with a great whaler tradition. It was here that the first whaler's factory was built. Ribeiras is a parish with a fishing port, and great tradition in fishery, land of good sailors.

Sperm Whale and Squids, if you intend to go whale watching, swimming with dolphins, or are just interested in whales and deep sea life, be sure to visit the small village of São João to the West of Lajes do Pico. There you will find a remarkable museum describing everything about the sperm whale and its squidy food ("Cachalotes e Lulas"). How big are they? How long do they live? How do they talk and how deep do they dive? What are the secrets of their lives and their power? See into their architecture and walk through a life sized model of the largest. Compare them with a human and see how scientists find out all about them. The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale, it dives deeper, holds its breath longer, has the largest brain and largest nose and makes the loudest noise of any animal that ever lived. See a life-sized model of the giant squid, the largest animal with no backbone, with the largest eyes of any animal, even the whale. Texts are in English and Portuguese with summary texts in french and german. Constructed by Malcolm and Dorothy Clarke in 2004, the museum celebrates their lives in research and teaching. It is open 10:00 to 17.30 Monday to Friday (closed all day on Saturday and on Sunday mornings) from 1st May to 15th October.

Museu dos Baleeiros, situated in Lajes do Pico, keeps pieces of bone and whale tooth, as well as the whaling instruments. A wonderful whaler’s canoe, and the first boat with an engine used in this activity are part of the museum collection.

VISITING THE ISLAND

Itinerary 1
It requires a full day, from early in the morning to the end of the evening. If you are staying in Madalena, we suggest that you start your tour by the north coast, toward Cachorro; you can opt by an old road, bordered by heath and incense, or by the asphalted road that passes through Biscoitos and Bandeiras. Deviate to the road that accesses to the airport, and follow to a crossroad with an old road where you should turn right continuing to Cachorro. Get back by the same road till the same crossroad and turn left to S. Roque, passing through Miragaia, Santa Luzia and Santo António.
In S. Roque Village, follow the seaside road admiring the beautiful scenery, and go down to Santo Amaro. Get back by the same road till the regional road and turn left; short after, stop at the Miradouro da Terra Alta, a belvedere with a spectacular sight, and continue through Ribeirinha till Piedade. Once here, visit the wine cellars and the seaside strand, where you can buy local pottery souvenirs.
Return by the same way, and take the regional road enjoying the landscape and its wonderful forestry richness. Deviate to Calheta do Nesquim and visit this inviting parish. Return to the regional road, and continue to Lajes do Pico, passing through Ribeira Grande and Ribeira Seca; go down and visit Ribeiras parish, and then return by the same road to Lajes. During the way, stop at the several magnificent viewpoints.
In Lajes do Pico, a typical whaler village, visit the whalers’ museum, and the several handicraft shops, exhibiting bone and whale tooth works. Continue the tour to Madalena, passing through Silveira, S. Joăo, Terra do Păo, S. Caetano, S. Mateus, Guindaste, Candelária (visit the Mother Church), and turn to Porto Calhau. Return by the same road passing through Monte Criaçăo Velha, Areia Larga (visit the wine cellar cooperative and taste the wine) and continue to Madalena Village.
Those who are staying in Lajes do Pico can start this tour taking the road to S. Roque do Pico (east) or Madalena (west). Those who are staying in S. Roque have two options: start the tour toward Madalena (east), or toward Lajes (west).

Itinerary 2
One morning or one afternoon tour. Leave Madalena toward Lajes do Pico and deviate to the road that crosses the island in west-east direction. This road goes up to a significant altitude. Visit Furna de Frei Matias, and then return to the same road. Few kilometres ahead in straight direction, visit the Capităo lagoon and enjoy the magnificent landscape. Go in direction to Lajes and take the road that lead to the lagoons of Caiado and Paul. Continue to Silveira, returning to Madalena through the south way, passing through S. Joăo, S. Caetano, S. Mateus, Candelária, Monte and Criaçăo Velha places.

Itinerary 3
Start in Lajes and pass through the mountain base till Furna de Frei Matias. Continue toward S. Roque do Pico by the road that crosses the island, admiring the wonderful view over the north Coast of Pico Island and S. Jorge Island; you can opt by continuing to Madalena, enjoying the view overlooking Madalena village place, the islets and Faial Island.

CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
The festivities in S. Roque do Pico take place in the last week of July, and include music concerts cultural events, and exhibitions, attracting hundreds of visitors to the island.
In Lajes do Pico, the whalers’ week takes place in the last week of August; it is celebrated in honour of Nossa Senhora de Lurdes and has a strong religious component. During this week, Lajes is visited by hundreds of people that come to watch and participate in music concerts, whaler’s boat-races, exhibitions and other cultural events.
Also in the whaler’s village, the Bienal de Baleias dos Açores takes place, a congress that gathers national and abroad specialists of whale watching.
On July 22, Madalena village pay homage to its patron saint with great events. The religious activities, as well as the music concerts and other cultural and sport events are a great advertisement of Madalena.
In November, the Feast of Vineyard and the Wine takes place in Madalena. Seminaries, debates and other events outstand the protected landscape of the vineyard.



 



TRADITIONAL FESTIVITIES AND ETHOGRAPHY
The handicraft of Pico Island is internationally known. The whaling provided the raw material to develop a rich handicraft; pieces of bone and whale’s tooth, representing scenes and instruments of whaling, namely copies of whalers’ ships, are recognised of a high quality art expression. Works of famous artisans, sculpted in cedar, pieces made of palm leaves, maize straw and fish scales, and embroideries, are facets of Pico’s handicraft.
In Pico Island, there are excellent folklore groups and interpreters of the popular songs danced in festivities of former times.

MONUMENTS
Here are the principal monuments on the island.

Santa Maria Madalena Church is the most important church of the island, built in the XVII century.

S. Pedro de Alcântara Convent is a building from the XVII century with a much valuable interior.

S. Pedro Chapel was the first temple built in the island; it dates back from the first quarter of the XV century and is located in Lajes.

Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo Church was built in the XVIII century.

Santa Bárbara Church, in Ribeiras, was built in the XVII century and rebuilt in the XX century.

S. Sebastiăo Church, in Calheta de Nesquim, dates back from the XIX century, built in the place of a former chapel of the XVI century.

GASTRONOMY
Fresh fish, good cow meat and good shellfish are raw material to delicious meals. The famous “caldos de peixe” (fish soap), sausage, hog’s fat with yam, “molha de carne” (meat), and octopus chowder are delicacies you must experiment.
In the beginning or at the end of a meal, Pico cheese goes well with bread or homemade maize cake. In the sweets menu, rice-pudding, sweet bread and “bolo da véspera” are local specialties.
Pico wines have tradition. The aperitifs, the table wines, white or red, the “vinho de cheiro”, angelica and Pico brandies can be tas ted at restaurants or bought at supermarkets. Adega Cooperativa, the wine-cellar cooperative of the island, has its quality internationally certified.

SEASHORE RESORTS
A piscina Municipal de Madalena, as piscinas naturais de Lajido, a Poça Branca e o antigo porto de S. Roque do Pico, a Baía de Canas, as Piscinas naturais de S. Roque do Pico săo locais onde pode tomar um relaxante banho de mar.

DIVING
Pico Island offers the best diving spots of the Azores. The islets in Pico coast and in Faial channel are worldly known as the ex-libris of divers.
The most frequent fish species are barracuda, bonito and tuna, although local species as grouper and sea bream can also be found. The underwater lava formations are spectacular, offering superb sceneries of caves, tunnels and arcades. The most appreciate diving season is on June, when the rays arrive to these waters.
In Pico, there is only one diving centre, located in Madalena.

SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS
The dolphins are the children of the sea: they love swim and dive in front or at the side of the boats, what constitutes a fantastic experience to watchers.
In the last years, the whale and dolphins observation companies have included in their program the possibility to swim with dolphins and watch them underwater. In the whole, five different species of dolphins can be observed, as well as turtles, sun-fishes and rays.

SPORT FISHING
The sport fisherman can capture in these waters good specimens of seabream, mullet, grouper, wrasse, bluefish, barracuda and sawfish, among others. On boat, one can capture swordfish, tuna and shark, as well as some bottom species like wreckfish or seabream. Look for the specialised companies referred in this guide.

WHALE WATCHING
In the Atlantic, Pico Island is the meeting point of Cetaceans. The rich food-chain attracts several species during all year, having already been observed 24 different ones.
Sperm whales are present during all year, while the huge Baleen Whales pass through these waters between the months of April and June. The Blue Whale is the biggest animal ever lived on earth and to meet one of them is of breath taking. In all maritime watching tours one can find dolphins.
In Madalena and Lajes do Pico there are several operators of whale and dolphins watching tours.

YACHTING
For those who enjoy yacthing, there are several high qualified companies that provide the necessary support to this activity.

HUNTING
Rabbits are in great number, as well as chickens, pigeons and quails. Dial 292642316 to get information from the Forestry Service of Pico about the hunting season.

MINI GOLF
In Candelária, one can practise mini golf in a wondrously beautiful place, surrounded by nature.

HIKING
This island offers tracks of rare beauty. There are specialised booklets suggesting the best paths. Look for information at your hotel. There are no dangerous species ou snakes in the island.

UNDERWATER FISHING
Species like largehead hairtail, bluefish, barracuda, sawfish and grouper, among others, are abundant. There is a strict control of this activity, so you should consult the local maritime authorities.

 

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