Half-day (4 hours)
In São Miguel, it was in Capelas that the whaling industry of the island had its greatest significance, as evidenced by all the must visit places that can be found here.
It is consensual that whaling on the island of São Miguel began in the mid-eighties of the 19th century, precisely in this location, designated by “Calhau Miúdo”. As we start the walking route, we make our first stop by a visible set of 18 washbasins, where women used to wash their clothes, perhaps with their eyes set on the men who, further down, harnessed and cut the whales, in order to turn them into oil, a precious sustenance for many families.
We head along, admiring the view to the natural anchorage of Calhau Miúdo, until we reach what remains of Mr. Câmara's trywork. This is where the first whale factory of São Miguel operated, belonging to the “Companhia Velha” of Mr. Câmara, as this trywork is designated after. Here, the whale oil was produced from scratch and stored afterwards.
We head down to the Port of Capelas to see the old Hauling Ramp. Being a narrow ramp, local fishing vessels were forced to dock, in order to clear the way for whaling boats, which would quickly launch into the sea in search of whales. In the port of Capelas, you can still see the old Boathouse, where the vessels and all the boat gear were kept.
We head on, passing through the Whalers' House, a meeting point for fleet owners, boat builders and whalers who dedicated their lives to the art of whaling. Later, it also started being designated by “casa do telefone" (telephone house), as the “whale in sight” warnings, from the various lookouts in the north of the island, were received here by telegraph. We continue to the Tribute to the Whalers of Capelas Monument, erected in front of the Main Church – as a consecration to Nossa Senhora de Lourdes, protector and patron saint of the Azorean whalers, in honor of who, a Procession is organized through the streets of the village by the locals every year. The monument is located next to the Parish Council of Capelas, where we can also see a small exposition with photographs, as well as some objects alluding to the history of whaling in São Miguel.
The walking route ends with a visit to the Morro das Capelas Lookout, built in a privileged spot for sighting whales in the north coast of the island. A crucial task in order to ensure the success of this whole activity.
Guided, self-guided or self-guided with support
Recommended means of transportation
Stay another 1/2 day to try:
• Whale Factory of Poços
• Yellowstone Lookout
• Whaling boat at Parque Atlântico Shopping Center
• Whale Watching