Tips on What to do in the Azores, Flores

What to do in the Azores: Flores Island

Cover photo by Pedro Hamdan Saramago.

“Tips on What to do in the Azores, Flores” is the eighth installment of a series of nine blog posts about the Azores islands. The posts are meant to give you a detailed overview of each one of them to help you plan your trip, whether you decide to visit one, two, or all nine. If you have any questions or specific request, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll do my best to answer it or to put you in touch with the right contact.

Island Overview

Perfect island destination for visiting the most Western tip of Europe and admiring untouched lagoons.

Unlike most of the other islands of the Azores, the natural landscape of Flores is relatively wild — eight lagoons practically untouched, wild rabbits that run around free in the unpopulated areas, small rivers, and waterfalls that continue to shape the island’s coast. For better or for worse, the island is not easy to reach or to tame, and perhaps that’s what makes it so appealing.

Sharing stories of pirate invasions with the neighboring island of Corvo and tales of shipwrecks, one could wonder if both the islands are doomed and not the warmest destination for strangers. But visitors do reach the island, and usually leave quiet. Not because there is nothing to say, but because the memories of their trip will always speak much louder than mundane adjectives.

“Little Ireland”, “Little Switzerland”, “pink island”; whatever the expression people use to attempt a description, the island’s isolation, and beauty are said to change people’s perception of the world forever. Listed by the UNESCO as Biosphere Reserve since 2009, the diversity of the local fauna and flora is quite remarkable.

Most Popular Activities

With plenty of small rivers and waterfalls to explore, canyoning is obviously popular right now. Hiking and guided boat trips around the island should also be part of your list of things to do when you visit.

Recommended Local Companies

Note: This is one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, with fewer options compared to the others, therefore we are listing all companies available.

WestCanyon

Founder Marco Melo earned a degree in Sports (Nature Sports and Active Tourism) and is a Certified Canyoning Instructor. Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor.

Rua do Areeiro 52
Fazenda
9970-243 Santa Cruz das Flores
info@westcanyon.pt

Activities: Canyoning (Adventure, Discover or Experiences), Jeep Tours (half day and full day), Trekking.

Hotel Ocidental

Activities and guided tours with experienced locals who know the island and the surrounding Ocean like the back of their hands.

Avenida dos Baleeiros
9970-306 Santa Cruz das Flores

Activities: 4-hour boat trips around the island, 2-hour boat trips to caves on the East coast, boat trip to the neighboring island of Corvo.

Cultural Events

Like everywhere else in the archipelago, the festivities of the Holy Ghost are strong here during the month of July. Also every year in Lajes, a 500-year-old town in the Southern part of the island, the locals celebrate those who left in search for a better life, typically in the United States and Canada. The “Festa do Emigrante” (” emigrant festival”, roughly translated) honors local culture, heritage, and gastronomy for those who return to their homeland in the Summer.

But the cultural life in the island is not limited to seasonal events and festivals. The local theater group, “A Jangada”, writes, produces, directs, and acts in light satirical plays, regularly — a particular Portuguese genre known as “Revista a Portuguesa” (“Portuguese review”).

Ocean is so clear here. #floresazores

A photo posted by Mark Silva (@swiish22) on

 

Traditional Cuisine

Living in a very isolated island, where the weather’s mood swings often make you wonder if there will be any tree left standing the next day, boosts up your creative spirit. That’s exactly what you see in some of the local dishes — “algae patties” might sound like the newest trend in vegan cuisine, but when your resources are scarce you make do with whatever edibles you have around. And, believe me, those patties may not look like the most appealing dish you’ve seen in your life but they are 100% edible and strong in flavor.

Watercress soup, the famous taro root and sausage (similar to the other islands but different in taste), and fish-based recipes are common local dishes.

Note: there is a highly recommended family-owned restaurant in the village of Fajazinha that serves traditional cuisine, prepared with a lot of love and care. The view is also breathtaking and the restaurant is called, appropriately, “Por do Sol” (“Sunset” in English).

A photo posted by @lissacanhoto on

 

Perfect Local Souvenir

If you can manage to travel back home with some fresh fish, local cheese and a container of handpicked wild blueberries or guava tree fruits (“aracas”, in Portuguese), then I wouldn’t recommend any other souvenirs. But, of course, this is not always possible, and I have a feeling they wouldn’t taste as great outside their local environment (except the cheese; the cheese tastes great anywhere in the world).

For something a little less perishable, try to find traditional flowers made from fish scales or from the pith of hydrangeas.

 

Where to Stay

Please note that we’re not listing ALL accommodation possibilities. These are tailored suggestions that fit the editorial tone of this blog. To narrow down the list of places to stay on the island, we used the following criteria:

  • (1) Properties listed as local accommodation and/or rural tourism (AL, CC, TH, TR). We excluded chain hotels.
  • (2) A website in English and/or a listing on Booking.com* where you can easily browse through photos and gather all needed data for an informed decision (such as prices and previous customers’ ratings).
  • (3) Easy to follow on social media and/or easy to contact from abroad (via a working email)

Aldeia da Cuada

An 18th Century village, abandoned in the 1960’s when the islanders began to migrate to North America, it was recovered and refurbished over time by a local family of entrepreneurs. Secluded but close enough to civilization to go from a resting state of mind to the desire to explore the island. Each house is named after the original owner and pairs traditional traits with modern amenities. Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor.

Aldeia da Cuada
9960-070 Lajes das Flores
aldeiacuada@mail.telepac.pt

One-bedroom houses:
Low season (October to May) – €65/US $70, per night
High season (June to September) – €80/US $86, per night

Two-bedroom houses:
Low season (October to May) – €85/US $92, per night
High season (June to September) – €105/US $113, per night

Four-bedroom house:
Low season (October to May) – €160/US $173, per night
High season (June to September) – €200/US $216, per night

Six-bedroom house:
Low season (October to May) – €200/US $216, per night
High season (June to September) – €250/US $271, per night



Booking.com

Casas da Cascata

Six refurbished typical houses with Ocean view. Rating of 9.1 on Booking.com*

Fajã Grande
Ilha das Flores
info@casasdacascata.com

Prices start from €50/US $54, per night

Book this on Booking.com*

Sitio da Assumada

Eco-tourism lodging in the West side of the island. Rating of 9.5 on Booking.com*

Estrada Regional da Faja Grande
9960-010 Lajes das Flores



Booking.com

A photo posted by @lissacanhoto on

Basic Information

Territory: Flores is one of the two islands in the Western Group (Grupo Ocidental) of the Azores Archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal.
Language: Portuguese
Time zone: GMT -1 hour
Currency: Euro (€)
Banks and ATM machines available? Yes.
Post office? Yes.
Visa Requirements*: Same as other Schengen area territories. Click here for detailed information.

* Please note that this information may change over time. Refer to the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in the country of your departure for updated information.

Special vaccinations needed? No.
Health facilities: pharmacies and health centers (known as “centro de saude”).

Voltage: 220 volts (round two-pin plugs)

Public transport: Buses and taxis.

Area: 143.11 Km2
Distance from Lisbon (approx.): 1897 Km
Population (as of 2011): 3793

How to reach: By plane – between islands, SATA Air Acores; from the Portuguese mainland and other countries, SATA Azores Airlines, Tap Air Portugal, and via Ponta Delgada (S. Miguel) Ryanair, EasyJet. By boat – scheduled passenger transport between the islands of Corvo and Flores, throughout the year, in Ariel: Atlanticoline SA.

Weather: Climate: Mild temperate. Temperature: average high 19.9°C/67.8°F. Average low 14.9°C/58.8°F. For up to date information from the Azores Weather Institute, you can download the free app Meteo IPMA for iOS* or for Android (Downside: unfortunately, all the information in the app is in Portuguese.)
Best time to visit: July and August for the weather and the local cultural events.
Seismic activity*: No activity. (Source)

*Note: seismic activity is constantly monitored in the Azores.

WiFi coverage: Yes.
Cell phone coverage: Yes.

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