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Known as the 'blue island', Faial is part of the central group of the Azores archipelago. Quiet inlets are lined with beaches of soft sand, and many hydrangeas stand out against the landscape, framing houses and roads.

With a surface area of approximately 173 square kilometres, the island has roughly 15,000 inhabitants. The only settlement of any real size on the island is Horta, the capital, whose harbour is full of the masts of sailing craft from all around the world.

In the 18th century the development of whale hunting brought early whaling fleets here, and by the 19th century it had become an important port. These days Horta is a major stopping point for yachts making their way across the Atlantic and a base for boat trips to watch marine mammals that include sperm, fin, pilot and sei whales, plus bottlenose and Risso's dolphins.

Faial is both picturesque and atmospheric: its volcanic cone rises above green hills, white houses are mirrored in the ocean, along with the ochre walls of Falal’s fortress, witness to many naval battles through the centuries, and the sight of sunrise over Pico Island is unforgettable.  In 1957 a volcanic eruption occurred around one kilometre off the coast, resulting in huge deposits of lava and ash that created a new islet – the Ilheu dos Capelinhos – which is connected to the main island by an isthmus.

Faial lies around 105 kilometres from Terceira, 18 kilometres from São Jorge, and some seven kilometres from the neighbouring island of Pico, on the other side of the channel.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: bottlenose dolphin, pilot whale, Risso’s dolphin, sperm whale, sei whale
  • Where: Central Islands, Azores

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Sperm Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins

Help a team of researchers and scientists in the Azores with an ongoing study of sperm whales, and learn more about these mysterious creatures as they migrate north, as well as the behaviour of the charismatic and intelligent bottlenose dolphin. The trip also offers the chance to dive with blue sharks.

  • When to go: May-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 6 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £1,525 pp
  • Trip type: Just Conservation Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Hotel do Canal

This four star hotel is conveniently located in the historic port of Horta, the principal city on the island of Faial. Situated just across from the marina from where whale watching excursions start, the hotel has breathtaking views over the bay and the mountain of the neighbouring island of Pico.