August is obviously the busiest time of the year in terms of tourism. However there are still some islands in the archipelago of Açores that are relatively unknown and worth exploring even during peak season. That's why we elected Flores and Corvo as our August 2019 destination! These islands belong to the western group and are the ones located further away from Portugal mainland. Find out why we feel they're a great retreat to unplug from the frantic city pace and connect with nature and a simpler day-to-day life.
Go with the flow
Being the most remote islands in the archipelago, flights are scarce, ferry connections are seasonal, accommodation isn't abundant and sometimes during summer time there isn't a single car available to rent. It might be hard to believe how we kept them a secret for so long, but truth be told the local inhabitants are the real keepers as they've taken care of these natural gems and preserved them throughout the years. Although tourism is growing rapidly in the archipelago these two islands seem to have their own pace, which is naturally slow.
What isn't slow is how the weather changes. It is quite frequent to wake up to a lousy cloudy day and then take a nap and find the skies are clear and the sun shines brightly. Go figure!
Due to the subtropical weather, the climate is hard to predict so the best is to visit with time as nature cannot be rushed. It takes time to grow and so should we.
Hike with green and blue all around
Flores is a winner when it comes to natural beauty and is an absolute paradise for those looking for virgin and wild landscapes. There are beautiful hiking trails that cross the island and take you to mesmerising waterfalls and other hidden gems. There are 85km of marked trails in the island and the Great Route, with 47 km, goes along the coast passing through rural villages, volcanic landscapes, bathing areas and luxurious green forests filled with endemic species.
Although Corvo is the smallest island in the archipelago, it is probably the most distinct one. With about 400 inhabitants who live all in the same small town near the ocean, the peaceful scenario is terrific to explore on foot or hitchhiking. Given its size, this island only has 2 official trails, one of which gives access to a collapsed crater located at the top of a volcano (photo). Corvo is considered a top destination for birdwatching not only because of the variety of species, but also due to the fact it is on the migratory route to North America and Europe. That explains why so many ornithologists and birdwatchers find this island a little oasis.
Coasteering, Canyoning, Snorkeling and Diving along the coast
Açores is an absolute paradise for those seeking for adventure, but the island of Flores excels when it comes to canyoning and coasteering. The first consists in following a river stream, overcoming the obstacles that arise along the way with different techniques. The latter is done on the shore, either along the rocky cliffs or in the ocean. Both these activities are perfect for adrenaline seekers and allow to explore areas of the islands that cannot be accessed any other way, which makes them even more magical.
For those seeking for a more relaxing activity snorkeling is ideal, as you can swim at ease in the crystal clear waters to spot schools of fish and other marine creatures that inhabit in the rugged volcanic coastline. It's also quite thrilling to dive deeper with scuba diving gear and explore what the ocean hides below.
All in all, both Flores and Corvo offer the best of both worlds: opportunities for those seeking some active holidays and peaceful alternatives for those eager to rest and relax.
Get to know the quirky Vila do Corvo
Corvo is the smallest island in the archipelago and all its inhabitants live in Vila do Corvo. Being so isolated from the most populated islands and mainland Portugal, the corvinos developed their own lifestyle, which they're very proud of. They have their own pace, a code of conduct that suits them all, every single person in the island has a job... these are only a few aspects that make this island so peculiar and interesting.
Despite being so remote, there's an interesting mix of old traditions and new technologies, in part thanks to the younger generation that doesn't seem to be able to say goodbye for good and return to their hometown whenever they have the chance.
Summer is time to celebrate
Because they're quite remote, these islands have managed to preserve their charm and authenticity. Traditions are as old as their inhabitants and local festivities are a must. During summer time there are a few religious ceremonies in homage of the patron saints, such as Nossa Senhora dos Milagres and Nossa Senhora do Bom Caminho. They involve masses and parades followed by music and big meals around the table.
In Corvo there's also a music festival known as Festival dos Moinhos, which gathers foreign bands and the local philharmonic, and takes place mid August.
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Because they are quite remote, both Corvo and Flores have less infrastructures and facilities. This means planning ahead is key in order to have a pleasant stay. Get in touch if these islands are on your bucket-list.
If you'd like to visit more or other islands read about the whole archipelago and get your inspiration going here.
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