The second largest Island on the wonderful Azores Archipelago, Pico Island, is a natural marvel, developing around the highest point in the Portuguese territory: the peak of Pico, situated at 2351 meters high, known as “piquinho”.
Pico Island has a surface extension of 447km2, with 42km long and 15,2 maximum width, located in the central group of the Azores Archipelago.
The Azores Archipelago is divided into three groups: the Eastern Group with, Santa Maria and São Miguel and the Formigas Islets; the Central Group with, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial; the Western group with, Flores and Corvo. With the exception of the Santa Maria Island, all the others have volcanic origin, as it is perfectly visible in the famous Furnas valley, in this greenish São Miguel Island.
The discovery dates of the Azores Archipelago are unknown, with several historical researches affirming that some of the island were already referred in Genovese maps since 1351, yet it was only from 1431 onwards that the colonization started in these Islands.
In fact, there are no certainties about the discovery date of Pico Island, yet it is thought that its colonization started around 1480, mainly with people from the north of Portugal mainland. Since the first times, Pico became an important commercial and trading point, due to the easy communication by sea with Faial Island, and due to the crescent agricultural importance, namely in wheat, fruit and vineyards plantations, that forever changed the landscape on the western side of the Island, classified since 2004 as World Heritage by UNESCO, for its lovely vineyard culture and landscape.
Also the Whale hunting was a very important activity for the Island, as one can observe nowadays in the Whaleman Museum, in Lajes do Pico. The Whale hunting tradition got quite important due to the north-American influence in the island as from late 18th century, nowadays, as it is forbidden an considered a crime, all the infra-structures once used for hunting are adapted in order to provide pleasant cetaceous observation tours in this amazing coast, offering unforgettable moments.
Pico island presents several highlights, starting with its typical and charming rural architecture with white constructions with black lava blocks that show off the volcanic origins of the island, and also lovely places such as the main villages: Lajes, São Roque and Madalena, filled with history and heritage; and also other delightful places such as the Torres Cave, the Fei Matias volcanic grotto or even the rocky formation of Arco do Cachorro.
A paradise for all nature lovers, Pico Island, filled with tradition, also offers a wonderful Gastronomic heritage, quite based in sea and shell food, with the famous “Caldeiradas” (fish stew), but also famous for its delicious meat from the many pasturage areas, that also provide the famous Cheese (São João and Arrife). Accompanying, the much appreciated Verdelho Wine, or the other red and white wines of the region.