Ilha de São Jorge Things to Do
Velas is well worth a wander around, especially on a sunny day. The views over to neighbouring Pico, and its same named volcano are stunning.
A nice walk is up to the summit of Morro Grande, the big hill just outside town. The views are marvellous (see my Sao Jorge home page for a typical one)
Another wonderful walk is from the Sete Fontes (seven fountains) forest park down to the abandoned lighthouse at Ponta da Rosais. You can hire taxis from Velas to take you to the start point. The route is obvious. The lighthouse makes a good lunchstop atop the cliff with stunning views to the islands of Pico and Faial.
After lunch walk back to the village of Rosais, where your pre-arranged taxi will pick you up
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Ilha de São Jorge Transportation
If arriving on Sao Jorge was exciting, departing also hjas its merits. The ferry over to Pico takes around 30 minutes.
The beautiful Velas harbour soon fades into the distance, as does the ridge of Sao Jorge, as the island of Pico approaches. If you're lucky and its clear. You get great views of the volcano.
An added bonus is a spot of free whale watching. We saw a sperm whale coming up for air about 400 yards off the bow of the ferry.
This is quite an adventure. As you come in to land at tiny Velas Airport, you can almost touch the mountain to your left, and to the right there is a stunning view across the channel to Pico and its superb volcano.
Rumour has it, that sometimes the pilots take two or three goes to land, although we got down first time.
The arrivals hall is not much bigger than my living room, and packed with passengers, locals and taxi drivers.
What an arrival!
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Ilha de São Jorge Local Customs
If you're going to Velas, try and get there the first week in July, when it celebrates the Semana Cultural, a week long festival of activities. We were there on the Saturday night for an excellent pop concert. (Well the speakers were in touching distance from my hotel window, so there was no chance of sleeping).
There's also a traditional running with the bulls, where the local lads try and outwit the young bulls. There is no cruelty here, the bulls do not finally end up in the bullring as in Spain
Ilha de São Jorge Off The Beaten Path
This is a wonderful story. Urzelina suffered tremondouly in a volcanic eruption in 1808. The lava flowed down and buried everything, except miracously the church tower, where it passed by either side. The tower still stands today as a monument to the buried village.
You can see further evidence by the coast, where lava tunnels flow out into the sea.