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Faial Geography

Shaped like an irregular pentagon and with an area of 67 square miles (173.42 Km2), the island of Faial has a length of 13 miles (21 Km), and a maximum width of 8.7 miles (14 Km). Dominated by the volcanic cone of Caldeira, with its gentle slopes interrupted by secondary volcanic formations, the highest point on the island is at Cabeco Gordo with an altitude of 3421 feet (1,043 m).

Geophysically speaking Faial is the westernmost point of Europe as it sits on the European tectonic plate. Flores and Corvo sit on the North American plate. Faial was formed from several geomorphologic structures resulting from volcanism. The “Capelo” volcanic complex is the most recent geomorphologic feature, where last eruption occurred along “Costa da Nau” and “Ponta dos Caplinhos”, near the small parish of “Capelo” on September 27, 1957. Initially, a small island (Ilha Nova) formed off the coast but quickly disappeared. During a subsequent eruption a cone and a small isthmus formed off the coast and then volcanic activity dissipated. The volcano became active again on December 16, 1957. This lasted until May 12, 1958 and connected the islet with Faial, effectively enlarging the island by 2.4 km² and extending the “Ponta dos Capelinhos” into the western ocean.

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