Azores - Sao Jorge Island

Sao Jorge Island is part of the central group of the Azores Islands.

Sao Jorge Island, AzoresPhoto by Luissilveira

(see more pictures of Sao Jorge Island at Azores Sao Jorge photos, and share yours at Your Sao Jorge Photos)

The closest neighbor to San Jorge (the English name) is Pico which is only 15 kilometers away. The Island of San Jorge is long, narrow and tall. 53 kilometers in length, 8 kilometers in width and the north side is mainly sheer cliffs measuring 400 to 500 meters tall. San Jorge has been the among the most volcanically active of the islands with six record eruptions in the past 500 years. The last was in 1907.

It was at the base of these cliffs that the first settlement of San Jorge occurred in the 1400's. These settlements at the base of the cliffs are called fajas. There are fajas on all of the islands but there are many here. Fajas are a flat piece of land in front of a cliff. They are formed by lava flowing into the ocean and by landslides. The land is generally quite fertile and farming was quite successful as a result of the land and the mild climate. At one time most of the Fajas hosted small villages. Today only a few do. The Fajas that are accessible by land are well worth a visit.

Faj√£ da Caldeira do Santo Cristo is probably the best to visit of all of them. It is a protected nature reserve and it features an underground cave and lake. Other Fajas feature nice waterfalls, lush vegetation, and natural swimming areas. They are a dream for an adventurous hiker.

Sao Jorge island has a mountain range that stretches across most of the island. The average height is 800 metres above sea level and the highest peak is Pico da Esperanca which is 1053 metres. The mountain range forms a green plateau which is fantastic for hikers. There are great views of Pico, Faial and Graciosa Islands. And there are forest reserves established to protect the incredible landscape of the mountain range. Mixed in with the protected areas are well kept farmers fields and an abundance of flowering plants.

The main towns are Calheta and Velas. Velas is an older town with many old houses and churches. There is a nice natural swimming pool nearby. And for those looking for inexpensive accommodations, there is a campground near Velas. Calheta also has its share of old buildings. The white buildings really stand out against the backdrop of the green mountainous terrain behind.

Like many of the other islands this is a great place to embark on a whale watching excursion, and there is great sport fishing and scuba diving available as well. And don't forget to try San Jorge cheese. It's really quite good.

Regular flights connect this island with most of the other islands and boats can be taken to Pico, Faial, Terceira and Graciosa.

Find out more about the Azores at Magical Azores Islands home (leave Sao Jorge Island page).