Flores, the “Island of Flowers,” is located at the end of the Azores and the western most tip of Europe. Flowers once dotted the cliff sides, enticing sailors to land and check out its offerings. Flores and its tiny neighbor, Corvo, make up the western group of the Azores Islands. The two are more than 150 miles from the central group of Azores islands.
Waterfalls are Flores’ trademark, but the island also has peaks and valleys for exploring on foot, and lakes and cliffs to compete with the waterfalls for photo opportunities.
Flores’ western coast is a flat slice of land called a Fajã, running from the cliffs of the mountain plateau to sharp black rocks and beaches along the Atlantic. The central mountain plains are dotted with seven crater lakes, all easily accessed by foot or car. It’s not unusual to see sheep, goats and cattle grazing on the land that surrounds the lakes.
The landscape is like an English moor. Hydrangeas line the road that rises and falls through the green landscape. Trails lead up to the many waterfalls, which often end in pools that are great for swimming. Meanwhile, the southern coast is home to the former whaling town of Lajes das Flores. Whaling implements and old tripots are on display at the former whaling factory, where visitors can learn about the history of whaling.
In the main town of Santa Cruz, reached by following an ocean road north through a cedar forest, restaurants often run by a fisherman and his family will serve the catch of the day. A whaling museum displays artifacts from New England’s fishing era, as well as a vast collection of bottles of whale oil. A 19th century church stands tall above the village.
Follow the road North along steep sea cliffs to the town of Ponta Delgada, with its lighthouse and open coast, and you’ll find trails that stretch for miles. That’s the only way to get to the southern coast, making Ponta Delgada perfect for hiking enthusiasts. The footpaths will lead hiking enthusiasts to waterfalls and utterly breathtaking views of the sea.Cuada was a tiny village that saw its villagers depart decades ago in search of a better life. When Carlos and Teotónia Silva started to buy up the ruined houses, the area was over grown, its ocean views no longer viable.
Over two decades they bought and restored 15 of the towns’ 17 houses (one is still in the hands of a family, the other is a chapel) and made them into simple one and two-bedroom cottages. The Aldeia -- or “Village” in Portuguese -- has the feel of an ancient town, with its rough stone paths (no cars allowed), open fields and stone houses, all featuring kitchenettes and furnished in period antiques.