Barreiro da Faneca, Pico Vermelho, São Lourenço
Full day (8 hours)
Upon visiting Santa Maria, the oldest island in the archipelago, you will be surprised by its unique landscapes compared to the other islands, resulting precisely from volcanic phenomena, which have consecutively transformed its morphology, from its most remote days to the present.
The route begins precisely in one of the most characteristic geolandscapes of the island, the Barreiro da Faneca, also known as the “Red Desert of the Azores” due to its intense red color. This geosite results from an old basaltic lava flow overlaid by volcanic ash, located in the area where the most recent volcanic activity on the island of Santa Maria occurred.
From here, we follow the stunning walking trail of “Costa Norte”, until we reach Raposo Bay, where the Waterfall flows into the sea, a watercourse that starts on the northwest flanks of Pico Alto and falls 80 meters high. In this bay, there can be found two watermills, an irrigation channel (levada) that feeds them, and a mill, currently in ruins, testifying the wisdom of the Azoreans' ancestors, in the use of hydraulic power as a resource for agricultural work.
After lunch, we proceed to the Pico Vermelho Viewpoint, a volcanic cone formed about 3 to 4 million years ago, which offers visitors one of the most extraordinary views of the island. Nearby, we can find one of the most impressive geosites in Santa Maria, the Poço da Pedreira, a paradisiacal place where the tranquility of the surrounding landscape will surprise you, and the curious sound of the frogs that inhabit this location can be heard. Poço da Pedreira is an old inert extraction area, carved out of an old cinder cone, Pico Vermelho, whose designation alludes to the reddish color of the rock, resulting from the ancientness of this volcanic cone.
We suggest finishing the itinerary in São Lourenço Bay. Turning your back to the sea, let yourself be amazed by the open-air wonder right in front of you. Observe the slopes of the bay, composed of a stack of subaerial and underwater basaltic flows, upon which terraces for vine culture were carved. This arduous work carried out by the Azorean's ancestors gave rise to an absolutely unique landscape. The presence of dikes (filões), pillow lavas, as well as the erosional cave of the Ilhéu de São Lourenço account for other geodiverse elements of great interest that can be found here. If you have enough time, don't miss the opportunity to come enjoy the white sand beach and dive into its clear waters of a turquoise blue color, in Praia de São Lourenço. Postcard worthy!
Recommended means of transportation
Points of Interestdon't miss out
Don't leave out:
• Cooperativa de Artesanato de Santa Maria
• Museum of Santo Espírito
• Taste the "Sweet Fossils", artisanal cookies from the bakery "A Cagarrita", inspired by the fossil forms of the fossiliferous deposits of Santa Maria