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, the regional air carrier, normally flies daily to São Jorge, from the airports of Ponta Delgada and Lajes (Terceira). You can also use the sea transport. There are daily connections to the islands of Faial and Pico. The ferries allow the transportation of vehicles between the islands of the Triangle (Faial, Pico and São Jorge).
The island of São Jorge covers a total area of approximately 243 km². It is 54 km long and about 7 km wide. It is part of the Central Group of the Azores, located at 38° 24'N and 28° 33'W. It is one of the three "Islands of the Triangle" and its highest point is Pico da Esperança, reaching an altitude of 1053 m.
Evidence suggests it was discovered around 1460. It is believed that its proximity to Terceira facilitated its sighting, together with the other islands of the Central Group. It was the second island of the Central Group to be populated, and the first settlements were in Velas and in the area of Topo.
To move around Sào Jorge, you may rent a car, use the taxi service or the public transport bus, which connects the main localities of São Jorge.
Reaching close to 1053 m of altitude, it is the highest point of São Jorge. From its peak one can see the other islands of the Central Group.
Placed in the same locality as Caldeira do Santo Cristo, it possesses a lagoon rich in shrimp. This shrimp is used by fishermen as bait. The lagoon is dotted by tiny islets where terns make their nests.
Considered to be one of the most picturesque fajãs of the island, the Fajã de São João is characterised by its houses made in traditional masonry. In this fajã, small plots of subsistence agriculture contribute to a picturesque environment.
A cave of geological formation, based in lava, very interesting for spelunkers.
Placed in the locality of Topo, it is an important nesting area for birds.
São Jorge is known as the island of Fajãs, with over 50 fajãs. The Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo is a natural reserve and Special Ecological Area with a lagoon and it is the only place in the Azores where you can find the tapes decussatus species of clam. It is also considered a paradisiacal place for surfing, due to its reef break.
Its unique microclimate allows the growth of coffee plantations, which is a rare occurrence in Europe. The coffee plantations existing in this fajã are for personal consumption, with points of sale to the public where you can taste the traditional coffee of Fajã dos Vimes. We should note that besides its unique taste, the coffee presents an intense aroma. In this fajã, the art of weaving subsists from the 16th century, through the techniques of "ponto alto" and "ponto de repasso".
Leave Velas towards Ponta dos Rosais, going through Baía de Entre Morros, the Parque Florestal das Sete Fontes, and the parish of Rosais. In the return, pass by Beira and follow the north coast, going through Toledo and Santo António. Head to the south coast, where you will find amazing sightseeing spots. Pass by Pico da Esperança and Caldeirinhas, and then follow through Urzelina, Ribeira do Nabo and Fajã do Santo Amaro, finally arriving at Velas.
Head to Calheta. Stop at the Ribeira do Almeida sighsteeing spot and enjoy the view. At Urzelina, visit the Fajã das Pombas. At Manadas, you can stop at the sightseeing spot of Fajã das Almas. Through Biscoitos, head down to Calheta. Visit the Fajã Grande and then follow to the parish of Ribeira Seca, where you can visit the Parque Florestal da Silveira. Then, take the opportunity to visit the sightseeing spot of Pedras Brancas, and heading to the parishes of Santo Antão and Topo. At Topo, visit the fishing port and the lighthouse facing the islet. Return to Ribeira Seca taking the same road and then follow the north road of the island. Make a stop at the Fajã dos Cubres sightseeing spot, from where you can admire both Fajã dos Cubres and Fajã do Santo Cristo. Continue through the north of the island passing by Ribeira da Areia, Norte Grande and stop at the sightseeing spot overlooking Fajã do Ouvidor. Before arriving at Velas, pass by Toledo and Beira.
The Semana Cultural das Velas happens during the first week of July and brightens São Jorge and all the other islands of the Triangle. Its program usually includes nautical events, music concerts, gastronomy fairs, book fairs, amongst other attractive events. The folklore is identical to the other islands of the archipelago. The men and women of São Jorge repeat the trends of the Chamarrita, the Sapateia and the Pézinho to the sound of the Viola de Arame.
In the second half of July, for a week, the Festival de Julho offers animation in the shape of music concerts, theatre, sports competitions and other events that promise to entertain visitors. The handcrafted embroidery and weaving are the main crafts. The "colchas em ponto alto" or the blankets of São Jorge are very famous, made with rudimentary wooden looms.
The Espírito Santo is celebrated in every island of the Azores, with São Jorge following the rule. These festivities are celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm by the local populace, that bring joy to the streets of the respective "Impérios". In São Jorge, pilgrimages to the fajãs are a demonstration of religious laud and devotion. In the civil parish of Calheta, there are celebrations honoring the patron saint, Santa Catarina.
Built in the 17th century over a temple dated from the 15th century. The interior features gilded woodwork and basalt masonry.
Built in the 18th century, it is the standing part of the old defense walls of Velas.
Church dated from the 18th century, it is one of the most beautiful examples of baroque constructions in the Azores. It was for the image of Santa Bárbara, of almost 30 cm in size, found in the primitive temple that was already in place.
Built in the 18th century, it is an example of the baroque civilian architecture of the Azores.
The surviving bell tower is what remains from an ancient church, destroyed in the volcanic eruption of 1808.
The gastronomy of São Jorge is rich in fresh fish, beef and seafood. Regarding seafood, the famous clams of Fajã do Santo Cristo are noteworthy.
When it comes to milk products, the Queijo de São Jorge (DOP) is of the most importance for the economy of the island. This cheese is internationally renowned for its spicy flavor, resulting of the ripening process. The production techniques, that remain almost completely erudite for over 500 years, were brought by the first Flemish settlers.
Traditional confectionery recipes that should be tasted include coscorões, rosquilhas and the coalhada cakes, but the most distinguished is "espécies", a horseshoe shaped sweet pastry with small holes from where some filling comes out. As its name indicates, this sweet pastry is very famous for the use of several spices, such as anise and cinnamon.
The particular microclimates of the Fajãs allow the plantation of coffee - in Fajã dos Vimes. There you can enjoy an intense coffee made from locally harvested beans (a rare instance in Europe).
The natural pools of Velas, Fajã do Ouvidor, where one can find the iconic Poça Simão Dias, Fajã Grande and Topo port are spots with clear waters and very appropriate for an excellent swim.
The sea surrounding São Jorge is rich in marine species. Fish from the coast fishing ports such as the ones at Laje do Morro, Baía da Enfiada and Ponta das Eiras. From white seabream and parrotfish to barracuda and mackerel, you can fish these species with your technique of choice.
São Jorge offers ocean floors filled with aquatic fauna. You can capture white seabream, grouper, anchovy and parrotfish. Contact the competent entities for information on the regulation of this activity.
The coast of São Jorge presents places of rare beauty for diving. Try diving in the area of Entre-Morros, home to a great abundance of fish species, in the Baixa dos Rosais, where you can observe large pelagic fish like barracuda and vadigo, and the Ilhéu do Topo, excellent for seeing species local to the seafloor of the Azores.
The channel of the islands of the triangle, of which São Jorge is part of, is rich in cetaceans. However. In São Jorge, it is not common to observe whales along the coast, nor is swimming with dolphins with enterprises headquartered in São Jorge. For your leisure, you may sail, tour on boat or even, take a dive from the boat into the sea.
The island of São Jorge is a surf sanctuary in the Azores. The Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo is a paradisaical place for surfing, with nice waves due to its reef break. The Fajã dos Cubres has fast waves and the longest left in the Azores, while Fajã do Belo is ideal for those in pursuit of tubular waves.
The island's geography allows for incredible hikes. On foot, hike the Fajã do Santo Cristo - Fajã dos Cubres trail, one of the most famous trails between two of the most emblematic fajãs of the Azores. Try also the Pico da Esperança - Fajã do Ouvidor trail, a great walk along the spine of the island. On horse, ride through Ribeira Seca, Calheta and Serra do Topo. On mountain bike, go through Pico da Esperança, the area of Topo and Sete Fontes-Rosais.
Canyoning finds the true meaning of adrenalin in São Jorge. The island presents great unevenness with V4 levels. Try Sanguinhal, with its 750 m unevenness, Cavaletes (Troço Inferior) with its 18 drops, the Fajã Redonda with 6 drops and the Caldeira.
The island of São Jorge offers to the hunter amazing views and a fresh environment, while providing an abundance of rabbits and pigeons.
The island of São Jorge is classified as Biosphere Reserve, due to its Fajãs and the preservation of its ethnographic, cultural and biological characteristics.