Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
SATA - Air Açores flies daily to Graciosa island, normally from Terceira island. The flight duration is of approximately 20 minutes. You may also take the sea transport, from the islands of Terceira or São Jorge, to reach Graciosa island. Between May and September, a passenger ship connects all the islands of the Central Group, with the trip between Terceira and Graciosa lasting approximately 3 hours.
Graciosa is located at 28° 05' W and 39° 05' N, being part of the Central Group of the Archipelago of the Azores. It covers an area of approximately 61 km² (23,6 mi²), with a length of 12,5 km (6,7 mi) and 7 km (4,4 mi) wide.
The exact year of the discovery of Graciosa is uncertain, but many historians point to 1450. The first landing on the island was probably accomplished by sailors from Terceira. The first settler was Vasco Gil Sodré, in the area of Santa Cruz, followed by Duarte Barreto in the Praia area.
To get around the island of Graciosa, you may rent a vehicle or use the taxi service. You may also opt for the public transport bus service, which covers most of the island. Buses are available for renting and daily tours, with capacities running from 8 to 55 passengers.
Route 1 - Santa Cruz - Bom Jesus - Vitória - Ribeirinha - Guadalupe - Santa Cruz
Route 2 - Santa Cruz - Praia - Luz - Guadalupe - Santa Cruz
Route 3 - Santa Cruz - Guadalupe - Luz - Carapacho - Luz - Praia - Santa Cruz
The most iconic landscape element of the island is an elliptical caldera about 270m deep. This caldera is located at the top of the Vulcão da Caldeira, the smallest volcano in the Azores.
A speleological and vulcanological phenomenon of international interest. This cave presents a perfectly vaulted ceiling, reaching a height of 50m in its center. The access to the interior is made through a tower built in 1939, with a 183° spiral staircase. This ex-libris of the Azores has a cold water lake and a sulfur-spewing muddy fumarole.
Also known as Algar dos Diabretes, it corresponds to the only volcanic pit in the island, at 38m deep. A walk around its rim allows for different views of this geological formation and the surrounding area, covered by 55 slag cones. From its elevation, a panoramic view over the islands of Terceira, São Jorge, Pico and Faial is possible.
This isle is home to a community of endemic coastal plants, also serving as an important shelter for seabirds.
One of the richest and most diverse seabird colonies of the Azores can be found on this isle. It is the only place in the world where the smallest seabird endemic to the Azores can be found, the Hydrobates Monteiroi.
A rocky formation of volcanic origin, it is located in the bay of Ponta da Barca, integrating an area of protected landscape. It is red and its shape resembles a whale.
Pico Timão is where the last volcanic eruption happened on the island, reaching an altitude of 398m, while Pico do Facho reaches 375m. A good place for hiking, covered in endemic flora.
A hill with a pleasant view overlooking Vila de Santa Cruz, on the northern part of the island. Three hermitages can be visited on this hill, dedicated to São João, São Salvador and Nossa Senhora da Ajuda.
A thermal spa, located on Carapacho, in the parish of Luz. Close to the sea, on the foothill of the largest volcanic formation of the island, it has a natural thermal pool appreciated for its multiple health benefits.
Leaving Santa Cruz towards Guadalupe, go by Pontal, Feteira, Pedras Brancas, taking a detour to Caldeira and Furna do Enxofre. Follow the road from Luz to Carapacho, taking a detour to visit the isles area. Continue following the coast, passing by Fenaus, Praia, Quitadouro, heading to Santa Cruz. Before ending the tour, climb the Monte da Nossa Senhora da Ajuda.
Leave Santa Cruz by the seaside road, stopping at the Ponta da Barca sightseeing spot. Go through Senhora da Vitória, Porto Afonso, and go up to Pico das Terças to enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Graciosa. Take a detour to the Almas sightseeing spot, following to the road that crosses Serra Branca, going through Fajã, Luz, São Mateus, Praia, Quitadouro and returning to Santa Cruz.
The Graciosa Carnival is vibrant and celebrated with enthusiasm by the locals, who keep alive their traditional dances and manners, accompanied by a great passion for music that permeates the population. In the week of the Carnival, several parades are organized, where revelers dress up in original costumes and masks.
The Museu da Graciosa, made up of 6 centers, is an important repository of the local ethnography. Several traditional activities, such as agriculture, wine making, production of cereals, whaling and ancient crafts, are represented in an exposition of historical gear and utensils. The rare corn "burras" are a surviving traditional method of drying corn cobs, in a four-legged structure of triangular shape. The Assosiação de Artesãos da Ilha Graciosa, in Santa Cruz, showcases the methods used in linen handmade embroidery, made with an ancient technique characteristic of the island.
In August, there is the Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, where a religious component comes together with music concerts and folklore groups that animate the streets. The festivities honoring the Divino Espírito Santo are of great religious and profane importance, being strongly ingrained in the traditions of the local populace, and running from May to September.
Built in the 18th century, on the Monte da Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, it houses an important collection of 18th century tiles. It resembles a miniature castle.
Built as a replacement, in a different location, for an older hermitage of the 16th century, which housed a depiction of the Virgem de Guadalupe.
Hermitage built after 1623 in celebration of the popular victory over Algerian pirates, who tried to disembark in Porto Afonso.
Built in the 16th century, it is home to a depiction of Senhor Santo Cristo.
The oldest and most artistic occult temple in Graciosa, in the Manueline and Baroque styles. Of the golden altar panels of the main chapel, the 5 panels of the 15th century are worthy of note, while the 6th can be found on the left side wall.
The first wind mills in Graciosa were built in the end of the 19th century. Of Scandinavian origin, its domes mirror the red color of the island. A reminder of times when Graciosa was the island that exported the most grain and was known as the bread-basket of the Azores.
Some authors think this cross was brought by António de Freitas (name written on the cross), from Guimarães in 1520. It marks the payment of a promise, and is one of 3 crosses. The other 2 crosses can be found in Tenerife and Africa.
The fresh fish and seafood captured off the coast, in traditional recipes like pescador sauce, fried fish with molhanga and fish stews, are true delicacies of Graciosa. Lobsters, slipper lobsters, spider crabs and limpets are abundant in the region and ready to be enjoyed. The wine of Graciosa is excellent, and resisted the deforestation by phylloxera. The white wines, old brandies and aperitive wines satisfy the most demanding palates and are perfect accompaniments to the regional gastronomy. The most characteristic food product of the island is the queijada da Graciosa, a centenary recipe inspired by the covilhetes de leite. Some local confectionery includes the cavacas, the escolmilhas, the capuchas, the rice pastries or the egg encharcadas.
The clear waters and pleasant temperatures at the natural pools of Carapacho make for a great swim. You can also enjoy the indoor hot water thermal baths of Termas do Carapacho. The area of Barro Vermelho includes a small beach of basalt stones, while Santa Cruz has bathing spots in Calheta, Boqueirão and beach of São Mateus.
The good visibility in the waters off the coast of Graciosa - considered the diving capital - provide spectacular underwater views. The abundance of fish and other marine fauna guarantee moments of memorable beauty, and great underwater pictures.
You can capture white seabream, red seabream, grouper, wrasse, parrotfish, anchovy, barracuda and mackerel off the coast of Graciosa. The shore is low and easily accessible. On boat, you can fish larger species, be it by bottom fishing or trolling. With a spear, you may capture vadigo, white seabream, grouper, anchovy, barracuda and white trevally, which in combination with the marvelous seafloor, makes for a magnificent hunt.
The bays of Santa Cruz, Folga and Praia are optimal for the practice of these activities.
Between the several hiking trails in the island, the road circling Caldeira stands out. It can be trailed on foot, on horse or on a mountain bike. Whichever the mean chosen, we guarantee you will be amazed by the dashing landscapes and hiking trails. The island's terrain is scarce in elevations. and there are no wild animals.
The island is rich in quail, pigeon and rabbit. Please contact the Serviço Florestal da Graciosa for more information by calling 295 712 143.
The island of Graciosa was, in 2007, classified as Biosphere Reserve, due to the conservation of its ethnographic, cultural and biological characteristics.