Fajã Grande & the West Coast:
Europe’s westernmost village Fajã Grande, located on a coastal plain at the foot of a steep cliff, is both lively and sleepy, depending on the season. It gets very lively during the summer months, as it boasts a small harbour and an equally small pool, which makes Fajã Grande an extremely popular bathing venue with a nice picnic and sunbathing area and it is also said to have the most beautiful sunsets of the Azores. During winter months, it becomes very quiet, ideal for everybody who looks primarily for peace and tranquillity. Today unimaginable, but Fajã Grande was during the 18th century the second biggest village on the island, as it boasted a sheltered harbour, protected by four small forts, of which only some stones remind today. During the heydays of whaling, the village even experienced some wealth, still witnessed by a few old manor houses, which can be seen in its narrow alleyways.
The village also provides great views on the island’s steep, several hundred meters high northwest coast, with many imposing waterfalls bringing water from the high plateau to the coastal plain beneath the rock face, making it extremely fertile, which favours the cultivation of vegetables and fruits, among which even oranges and peaches.
Nearby the tiny hamlet of Ponta da Fajã, about 2 km north on a narrow road is the Poço do Bacalhau, a natural pool filled with crystal-clear water from a majestic waterfall.
Further north along the northwest coast, about 1.5 km offshore lies the tiny rock islet Ilhéu de Monchique, whose only importance is today that it marks the western end of Europe. Once, during the period of navigation by astronomy, this island was an important point of reference for the verification and calibration of the navigation instruments of ships. Between here and America, there is nothing else than the Atlantic.
Down the west coast, nearby Fajãzinha, the viewpoint Craveiro Lopez offers spectacular views on the island’s highest waterfall, the Cascata da Ribeira Grande, diving from about 300 m into the sea.
Still further south is one of the island’s most stunning nature attractions, the Rocha dos Bordões, curious geological phenomenon, which resulted from lava solidifying in vertical stratums forming a majestic headland… a striking and very photogenic sight.
Idyllically located, embedded in a green valley between rocks and small mountain crests, is the tiny hamlet of Lajedo. Continuing further down towards the sea, Costa, with a few houses and a small chapel, is reached. This place is mainly known for its hot sulphur springs, Àguas Quentes, at sea level.