Only a two hour flight from Portugal’s mainland you can find a wild and well-preserved archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: The Azores.
These nine volcanic islands, recognized in 2019 and 2020, as the 1st Sustainable Tourism Destination, is a small paradise where nature, tourism, and local communities co-exist.
I have a soft spot for Pico Island. It’s less touristy than São Miguel Island and very rich in experiences, from local gastronomy, scuba diving, trekking, swimming in natural pools, fishing, visiting vineyards, dolphin and whale watching, all the while having several options to eat and drink very well at!
Pico has a very unique ecosystem due to the black Volcanic rock present on the island but also due to local’s tenacity who, against all expectations, among other achievements, managed to grow fantastic wine from rocks in a landscape that is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004 – Pico Wine!
For the record, the basalt stone walls were assembled to protect the vineyards from the winds and absorb heat from the sun and there are so many vineyards, that if you put them in a straight line they would travel around the world two times!
Pico Island is also where you can climb the highest mountain in Portugal (Mount Pico with a 2351 meter peak) and spend the night there, camping at the summit, surrounded by silence and millions of stars, before the descent. It’s not hard, I assure you!
The island is strategically located in a way that in less than 30 minutes we can visit two other islands that are both very different regarding flora, fauna, and geology: Faial and São Jorge islands.
Join our Sustainable Experience in Pico Azores, this year!
All photos by Sílvia Olivença except the two taken from Pico’s summit (credits to Tripix for the group picture and Kim Wolde for the overnight camping picture).
This dream experience started two years ago. In March 2020 we were ready to go but suddenly Covid-19 changed our plans. Now more than ever, we believe that the Azores will be one of the best and safest destinations in the world to choose for your holidays.
If you’re a foodie, or a Portuguese wine lover, passionate about nature, curious about culture, in love with the sea, and excited to do some mountain hiking, then Pico Island is the island for you.
Far from the crowds but still intertwined with the local communities, we will not lose an opportunity to connect with others, to relax, to taste, and to learn about Azores cuisine.
Oh! My Cod Pico Experience is a laid-back approach to group travel that feels more like exploring the world with old friends interested in their surroundings with a strong appetite for food, wine, and connecting with nature.
This will be a ‘one experience cocktail’ that only an island like Pico could offer. Mixing the ocean, walking, swimming, eating, discovering the local wine, and even allowing you to participate in the harvest with local communities (during August trip only)!
- Duration: 7 nights/ 8 days
- Starts and ends in: Pico Island
- Physical Rating 3/5
- Activities: Food tours, swimming, wine tastings, beach time, cooking class, UNESCO Site Visit, mountain hiking, harvest, whale watching, snorkeling, trekking, and sailing.
- Enjoy several days of sun and sea in marvelous ‘Poças’ all over the island and to do some snorkeling
- Taste one of the best tuna steaks you can find in the world, caught locally and sustainabily
- Climb Montanha do Pico and spend the night on top of the highest mountain in Portugal. It’s a breathtaking experience to see the stars and the sunrise.
- Learn about the origins of Pico wine and taste the 17 local grapes
- Explore the island by car and through organized walks
- Take a boat to spend a day in São Jorge Island: eat the biggest clams in Portugal
- Day trip by boat to Faial Island to explore the astonishing volcanic effect, swimming in a ‘poça’ and a food tasting of one of the one of the best beefs you will find
- Participate in the harvest season and local culture
- Sail with a fisherman
- Discover Azorean IGT bovine meat with its characteristic aroma and flavor, due to the traditional production method, and the particular way the bovine are fed and how they graze
- Visit dragon trees (Dracaena draco), estimated to be between 500-1000 years old
Join us! Sign up for the waitlist today
and you’ll be the first to know when we depart
and get access to early bird prices.
DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THIS UNIQUE ISLAND
This one is over to Manuel, his family, and friends, to whom I want to thank for having me with them during their harvest day!
In Pico, the harvest creates one of the biggest excitements on the island. Friends, families, and neighbors, from different sides of the island, get together in this activity that can last one month (from mid August until mid September).
Since the grapes mature in different periods (depending on the climacteric conditions associated with the island’s geography) the harvest happens gradually and you can participate in more than one harvest if you have the energy.
Everyone on the island has a piece of land with grapes to produce wine. One day it’s Manuel’s vineyard and then the next week, Manuel will drive to the other side of the island to help some family or friends who’s harvest is ready for picking a week later.
This geological condition that causes different maturation times in such a small space is a great factor to promote socializing and gathering during these months. After each harvest, a big lunch and/or diner is prepared and wine from the last year is served! The women who are not in the vineyards harvesting are cooking scrumptious meals for groups of 10, 20, or even 30 people!
Around the table, everyone forgets their tiredness and it’s the opportunity to talk about the harvests and to reminisce.
On Pico Island, vines grow from lava soil and flourish on the rock. The first settlers introduced grape growing in Pico in the late 15th century.
In Pico, the “curse” of the land, only 3.4% of the soil was arable, sharpened the wit and tenacity of the inhabitants who transformed the barren stone into a way of living.
Lava, from the extinct volcano named Pico, had to be split, stoned shattered and the rocky ground perforated to plant the vines and construct an endless labyrinth of stone walls called the ‘currais’, (corrals) to shelter the vineyards from the Atlantic winds.
The soil was poured into each opening and a vine cutting was planted inside at an angle so that it would grow along the ground instead of upright. Much of the soil used in this process was brought from Faial, another island in the Azores archipelago, with small sailboats.
The stone homes and stone-walled vineyards, made to protect the 2,439 acres, would go around the planet twice if you would put them in a straight line! Almost impossible to believe if we think about the size of this volcanic island.
But there is another important function of this architecture. The black basalt tends to absorb and give back heat, which leads to grapes ripe with sugar. These vineyards were listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2004.
There are now 17 grape varieties on the island. In fact, Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) are the older ‘neighborhoods’ of Verdelho, one of the most important wine castes on this island for centuries. The oldest tree is estimated between 500-1000 years.
Dragon trees were one of the main dyeing plants of commercial interest used between the 15th and 19th centuries. Its transparent, blood-red resin, known as dragon’s blood, was used in the production of paints, dyes, varnishes, and for medicinal products.
But they also had a role in the production of Pico wine! Their leaves were used by the coopers to seal the pot and by the winegrowers in the graft mooring! They are native to the Canary Islands, Morocco, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Azores Portugal.