Go to the extremities of any continent and you’ll probably find yourself in a remote setting. Surely however there are few places as remote as Flores, the most distant of the Azores islands and the last piece of European land in the Atlantic Ocean this side of the Americas.
Flores, known as the Atlantic Garden, is a tiny dot on the map in the blue of the ocean but is big enough to offer visitors plenty of excellent walking terrain. At 11 miles long and 8 miles wide Flores is criss-crossed by several paths that hug its dramatic coastline, climb its impressive cliffs or follow the many miles of hydrangea hedges that run across the island. There are two principal marked routes, one 8.5km and one 11km, both finishing in Fajã Grande. Between them they provide a perfect insight into the delightful Azorean landscape.
For such a small island Flores surprisingly boasts seven lakes, each one filling the island’s now extinct volcanic craters. These are the main draw for tourists who come here to marvel at the natural wonders of this green island. The waterfalls on Flores are spectacular, dropping from great heights into the island’s lush green gorges.
The ‘big’ village is on the eastern side of Flores. Santa Cruz is home to 2,500 inhabitants and is the most popular place to find accommodation. The island’s few hotels are found in and around Santa Cruz and it is here where most of the restaurants and cafes are found.
On the other side of Flores is the village of Fajã Grande. This is Europe’s most westerly settlement and is set in an attractive natural bowl. It is popular with walkers who use this as a base for the island’s main walking routes.
One of the most unusual places to stay is in the recently renovated weavers’ cottages at Cuada, close to Fajã Grande. The whole village was abandoned in the 1960s as the residents slowly left their old way of life and moved to the mainland. For 15 years Carlos and Teotonia Silva worked hard to renovate and modernise the houses in keeping with the rural features of the original stone buildings and have now opened them up as holiday cottages for visitors to Flores.
The cottages now come with all mod-cons and most include a real fire. It sounds like a perfect place for a complete getaway from everyday life.
Check out our Azores holiday pages for more information about visiting Flores and the Cuada cottages.
by Andy Jarosz