Horta, Azores, Portugal
Name: Port of Horta
Address: Island of Faial, Azores
Phone: Contact Individual Cruise Line
email: Contact Individual Cruise Line
Website: Contact Individual Cruise Lines
Faial Island is part of the central group of the Azores archipelago and is part of Portugal. The surface area of the island is approximately 67 square miles and it has about 15,000 inhabitants. Horta is on the southeast end of the island.
The airport hub for most of the flights to the Azores islands is Lisbon on mainland Portugal. It takes about two hours to fly from Lisbon to the Azores. You can also fly from Boston, Providence, Oakland (CA) and Toronto directly to the Azores.
The Horta Airport is located about 9.5 kilometers from Horta and there is a taxi stand inside the airport perimeter, located outside the arrivals area. There are daily flights in the morning from Lisbon to Horta. Convenient ferries connect the islands and crossing times are never more than an hour. It is possible to see whales and dolphins on the boat crossings as an added attraction. If you fly in to Terceira or Sao Miguel there are connecting flights every day to one of the three islands but this is a more expensive alternative.
Faial is the smallest of three islands and easy island to visit and get around. It has one of the main airports in the Azores and there are several ferries every day to Pico from Horta. Ferries to Sao Jorge run daily in summer and three times a week in winter.
Although some early flights from London to Lisbon connect with the Horta flight, this is not always the case, and sometimes it is necessary to overnight in Lisbon.
There are about 30 picturesque, small hotels and resorts in Horta whose population is about 15,000. Among them is the Hotel do Canal, located on the main ocean front avenue in the center of Horta and across the street from the port and marina. It has all of the facilities you’d expect in a four-star property.
The Pousada da Horta is set in a 16th century fortress built over the Horta Bay and has been classified as a National Monument since 1947. It offers a magnificent view of Pico Island and the famous Marina and its yachts.
The Fayal Hotel Horta is situated in a green locale that separates the hotel from the urban center. Possessing a beautiful view overlooking the city, the bay and the mountain of Pico, the hotel has 80 rooms decorated in a contemporary style, all of which have panoramic views over the ocean, city and Pico Island.
The Azores comprise a group of nine volcanic islands situated along the mid-Atlantic ocean ridge halfway between North America and Europe. And at 10 miles by 20 miles, Faial Island may be the smallest embarkation port in the entire cruise industry, allowing you to make a leisurely circuit of the island during your visit.
Horta was the focal point of the laying of the transatlantic cable a century ago and at one time was filled with technicians and workers involved in what at that time was one of the great technical wonder of the world.
Everywhere you go you’ll see hydrangea bushes, the trademark flora of the island. Originally imported to Faial Island, they have thrived beyond what anyone ever imagined and the island is often referred to as the “Blue Island” because of the distinctively blue, ball-like clusters of hydrangea blooms. There are masses of them around houses, and they serve as boundary markers between cultivated fields.
Most of the activity on Faial centres on Horta, the main town. Horta’s marina is a busy place, usually crammed with luxury yachts of the rich and famous stopping off here. Horta offers a stunning choice of historic architecture and an Arte Sacra Museum. Some of the best views of Pico’s huge mountain volcano can be seen from Faial.
Horta is a pleasant town to explore with many old shops, cafes and good restaurants. Peter’s café and sports bar is a meeting place for both travelers and locals. Many go there for its famed gin and tonic and to get a sense of the island’s character.
The town is also the principal recreational port of the Azores, annually registering more than 10,000 yachts from around the world, and serving as home port to a local fleet of yachts. It has been awarded the Blue Flag from the European Union each year since 1986.
At Horta’s Marina you can easily access a choice of whale watching boat trips, fishing trips, swimming with dolphins trips, diving, sailing and coastline cruising. Faial has an excellent bus service, so you can explore this little island without a car.
The Caldeira, a volcanic cone that dominates Faial, has a crater at its summit that’s almost a mile in diameter and a quarter mile deep. It’s a nature preserve and a tropical glory, covered with cedars, junipers, ferns and moss.
Capelinhos is the cape formed by the volcanic eruption of 1957-58. The landscape shows the aftermath of the eruption with scarps, or shoulders, of the cape towering hundreds of meters high. Visit the small but interesting museum that commemorates the event or change venues and take a boat to the Feteira Coast to see other volcanic wonders – a series of grottoes and marine caverns, and the headland called Ponta Furada, a lava arch formed by the action of the sea.
If you’d rather swim and relax than do any exploration, Faial’s five natural beaches will serve you well. Porto Pim is a sheltered beach frequented by families, the Varadouro a rocky pool, and the Faja da Praia do Norte a long cliff-sheltered beach with good snorkeling. The sight of Pico, an adjacent island only a few miles away, offers a real treat for the eyes. A huge volcanic cone reflects the sea and the sky back at you with variable coloring and textures. Go ahead, relax and simply enjoy the view!
Things to do:
There are two Horta Museums. The Museu do Scrimshaw (Scrimshaw Museum) features exhibits on the whaling industry. And the Museu da Horta features the cultural history of the island, including photographs, antique furniture, and traditional crafts, among other islands.
Take a ferry to the nearby island of Pico, or get onto an organized tour out of Horta and visit this charming island. Pico, an island located in the Azores 800 miles west of Portugal, is where you can swim with wild spotted dolphins on trips offered by licensed boats. The use of scuba gear is strictly forbidden in Azorean waters so dolphins are observed closer to the water’s surface using snorkeling equipment.
Only two swimmers are allowed to go in the water at the same time, and never in the presence of calves or dolphins engaged in feeding activities. The skipper and crew of the small boat you’ll be on will explain you how to conduct yourself with the animals. You will have to be patient as the dolphins have to be motivated by their own curiosity.
– By Ray Chatelain