Visit the imposing crater of the largest volcano in Faial. The Caldeira is located in the central part of the island, has a perfectly circular shape with a diameter of approximately 2000 meters, an average depth of 400 meters and is covered by exuberant laurissilva vegetation. This is the island’s most characteristic feature and home to the most pristine patches of native forest in the Azores. It is one of the few places where you can still feel and imagine how the Azores must have been before people arrived. It is therefore a very important nature reserve with unmissable sights.
The caldera resulted from the successive collapsing of a more than 400,000-year-old volcano, whose last eruption took place only 1,000 years ago and covered about 75% of the island’s surface with incandescent pumice. At the bottom there is a cone that resulted from this last eruptive phase and its shape is curiously reminiscent of the image of the island itself.
There are three ways to visit the Caldeira:
Visiting the viewpoint – The Caldeira is a mere 20–30-minute drive from Horta and the road meanders through beautiful landscapes in the highest part of the island. There is a parking lot on top and the actual viewpoint is accessible through a pedestrian tunnel. The view inside the gigantic crater is impressive. If you enjoy the views and these unique surroundings, we suggest you follow a short trail to Monte Gordo – the highest point on the island – which takes approximately 15 minutes.
Walking along the perimeter – This is one of Faial’s most emblematic trails. The circular trail is about 8 km long and winds along the edge of the crater. The trail is fairly even and has few obstacles and is accessible to people of various ages with little experience or skill level. The views of the crater’s interior are extraordinary as are the panoramic views of the island’s coast and neighboring islands. The trail can be walked or run independently or with specialized guides and companies.
Find out more about the trail here.
Descending the crater – The descent into the interior of the Caldeira is an incomparable experience! Its interior is one of the best-preserved patches of laurissilva forest in the region and of great importance for the natural conservation of endemic habitats in the Azores. For this reason, you must be accompanied by a certified guide when descending the Caldeira and there are restrictions on the number of people allowed per day. The numbers are regulated by the Natural Park of Faial Island. The trail is narrow and steep, descends in zigzags and is classified as difficult. In some areas you may have to use your hands to progress. Being considered a humid habitat, it is frequent to find mud and a flooded area at the bottom.
Learn more about the descent to the Caldeira here.
Important: Given the high altitude, the weather conditions in the Caldeira are unstable and visibility is not always good. We recommend that you visit it as soon as a good opportunity arises. That way you can guarantee that you don’t leave the island without seeing one of the Azores’ most remarkable features.