Pico, Azores: Spelunking and Exploring the Coast

Fences made with volcanic rock surround all of the vineyards in Pico.

Fences made with volcanic rock surround all of the vineyards in Pico.

We’ve spent the past few days exploring the small volcanic island of Pico, one of the nine Azores that lie just four hours by plane from Boston.

I came here in 2010 but visited only the largest Azore, San Miguel, and tiny Santa Maria Island, where we found that everyone we met was from Boston.

This trip to Pico we got a chance to drive around most of the dramatic craggy coastline and go down into a lava tunnel cave Gruta das Torres, about 100 feet below the surface. This geological wonder extends 4000 meters and was created by flowing lava from one of the hundreds of volcanoes that dot the landscape here.

The best part was when we turned off every flashlight and stood stock still and we became subsumed by the utter silence and what it must be like to be blind.

Swedish visitors have also organized yoga sessions and meditation in here… there’s nothing like this to stir your insides!

Our guide Jose Silva truly enjoys showing off this small island with just 14,000 residents, we learned that about half the families here have smaller summer homes next to the ocean and live the rest of the year in their regular homes on Pico.

The population has decreased by about half over the decades but has settled in recent years. Most of the people here work in agriculture or for the government. The Feds are generous and even provide money  to pay for sports teams to travel to other islands to play away games, at about $150 per ticket!

The green of the hills, dramatic volcano in thr center and the small villages all with white paint and simple adornments are truly beautiful here.

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Max Hartshorne
Max Hartshorne has been the editor of the GoNOMAD.com travel website since 2002. Over the past decade, he has had the privilege of working with writers and publishing travel articles about nearly every country in the world. He has also been a consistent world traveler, writing hundreds of his own travel stories and posting daily blogs from the 10 or more yearly international trips he takes around the world.

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