Introduction To Horta
Azores are tall volcanic islands with steep drop-offs immediately
offshore. The islands receive abundant rain and are very green and
fertile. The lofty heights and greenery conspire to provide breathtaking
vistas reminiscent of the islands of the South Pacific from a distance.
The climate in the Azores is dominated by the Azores
high, a high pressure area which usually circulates to the south
or southwest of the islands. Summer typically brings prolonged periods
of warm, sunny weather.
Most yachts stop in the Azores on their way east across
the Atlantic, though few of them cruise around the islands. As a
consequence, few yachties take time to enjoy the islands' secluded
bays, unspoiled anchorages and protected harbors.
Horta, on the island of Faial, is where most yachts
stop. The town has been a meeting place for yachts and other vessels
crossing the Atlantic for centuries. If offers one of the finest
harbors in the Azores.
Every spring, hundreds of yachts bound for Europe
from North America and the Caribbean converge on Horta. Beginning
in May and continuing through June and well into July, the harbor
is filled to capacity with yachts, and the town is packed with crew
from the yachts. The vessels range from giant megayachts to twenty-some
foot or smaller pocket yachts, and their crews are truly international.
The low prices in the Azores tempt many cruising yachties to linger
The Azores are a part of Portugal, renowned as one
of the most inexpensive and fascinating destinations in Europe.
One travel book reports that four decades of dictatorship sidelined
the country from modern progress and Europe's power centers, and
nowhere is this more evident than in the Azores. But the people
are among the friendliest you'll meet anywhere--and they are very
proud of their islands and their heritage. One expatriate American
resident told us that the people who live in these islands consider
themselves Azoreans first and Portuguese second.
Portugal is a member of the European Community. The
currency throughout the country, including the Azores, is the Euro.
The central feature of the town of Horta is the waterfront,
which includes a large commercial pier that functions as a breakwater,
and the Horta Marina, which is operated by the government. The harbor
is deep and the approach straightforward.
No visit to Horta by boat would be complete without
a stop at the renowned Peter's
Cafe Sport, on the main street just above the marina. With its
trademark blue front, Peter's has been a watering hole for yacht
crew for generations, and the cafe still serves up sandwiches, beer,
wine and stronger librations for thirsty crewmembers. It's not unusual
to hear conversations in more than a dozen languages at Peter's.
And Peter's museum, on the floor above the cafe, has a vast collection
of scrimshaw with some pieces dating back to 1884.
The island of Faial is home to about 16,000 people,
and it measures about 7.5 by 11 miles. Since 1976 Faial has been
the seat of the Parliament that governs what is known as the Autonomous
Region of the Azores and most of the administrative departments,
including the tourism department.
When you visit Horta, you will see evidence of the
devastating earthquake that struck the island early on the morning
of July 9, 1998. The quake was felt on six of the nine Azorean islands,
but the greatest impact was on the island of Faial. At least eight
people died, 100 were injured, and more than 1,000 were left homeless.
Thanks to government assistance, many of the damaged and destroyed
buildings have been rebuilt, but evidence of the quake remains everywhere
on the island.
Charter flights direct to Ponta Delgada from Boston
operate twice weekly in season, and regularly scheduled flights
to Horta are available from Lisbon. In the summer ferries are available
to the islands of Pico, Sao Jorge and Terciera.
The Horta Marina
year more than 1,000 yachts call at Horta Marina, a well-sheltered
government-operated marina with 300 slips inside the main breakwater
at Horta. The "old marina" is tucked behind the long mole, and the
"new marina," completed in 2001, is located beyond the marina office
farther to the south. Depth in the marina is a minimum of seven
feet MLW, mostly much deeper, with a tidal range of about four feet.
According to marina management, Rally yachts will be berthed alongside
floating docks in the new marina, with no requirement for rafting
or Med-mooring. The docks are modern, with fresh water and 220 volt,
50-cycle electricity at each slip. Dockage, including water and
electricity, are included in the rally fee.
Contact Horta Marina on channel 16 on arrival. Berths will be assigned
in advance by Marina Horta, and Rally yachts will proceed directly
to their assigned berths. Customs, immigration and other formalities
will be handled by agent, Marco Quadros of the Bensaude ("Ben-Sah-oode")
agency. Offices of immigration, maritime police, customs and Guarda
Fiscal next to marina office in same building. No one is to go ashore
until clearance is granted.
Fuel is available at the marina office for cash (Euros) only. Duty
free fuel is available only for yachts taking on 1,350 gallons or
more, and special arrangements must be made in advance for duty
Horta has no pumpout facilities. There is good water flow in the
marina and the water is mostly clear. Marina management recommends
that Rally yachts use holding tanks, but there is no requirement
that they do so and few yachts at the marina appear to use holding
Dumpsters available at entrance to new marina and many other locations
in the old marina. Also oil disposal drums are located on the piers
for recycling oil, chemicals, and small batteries. 12 v batteries
may be left at MAYS for recycling. Glass and paper can be separated
for recycling on the island, but no specific receptacles are located
in the marina. No extra charges are imposed for any of these services.
Horta Marina is right in the center of downtown Horta, with restaurants
and shops only minutes away. The marina includes showers, a laundromat,
and a snack bar with a patio.
Although English is not the primary language, many marina employees
The Azores and Portugal are part of the European Community, and
the Euro (€ ) is the only currency widely accepted. Rally captains
are advised to obtain at least a small amount of cash in Euros before
departing, to pay for incidental expenses such as clearance fees
in the Azores.
ATMs are widely available in Horta and easy to use, many of them
offering menus in Portuguese and English. Look for the "CAIXO" signs.
Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, are widely accepted.
Euro travelers's checques are available, both in the U.S. and in
Horta is not a large town and it's easy to walk to most shops and
businesses. Taxis are readily available. However, a rental car is
nice to have--especially for large provisioning chores and extended
Rental cars are available, though there are virtually no automatic
transmission cars for rent on Faial; the straight shift cars work
best in this mountainous country with curvy roads.
Hertz (tel. 292-200-031) is in downtown Horta and at the airport.
Hertz rental rates are generally higher than those of Auto Turistica
Auto Turistica Failenese (tel. 292-292-308) is also in Horta and
at the airport. A tiny Puegot 206 rented from this company at the
airport in May 2003 was €20.00/day plus mileage, fuel and insurance.
good, fresh provisions in Horta will not be a problem for Rally
yachts. Finding specific U.S. brands, however, will be. By U.S.
standards, meat is usually tough and goes straight from slaughter
to the market, with no aging. Americans living in Horta advise trying
a little to make certain you like it before stocking up. On the
other hand, vegetables are fresh from local fields and are generally
considered superior in taste to those we get in many stateside supermarkets.
Be sure to try the Azores cheeses, which are delicious and inexpensive.
Likewise, Azores and other Portuguese wines are the least expensive
in the islands, yet they are very drinkable. For something different,
try the Portuguese "green" wine which is much better than you'd
For one-stop grocery shopping, the best choice by a wide margin
is Hipermercado Modelo (Tel. 292 208-150) on the road to the hospital,
about 15 minutes walk from the marina office. This is a large U.S.-style
supermarket which offers by far the best selection of food on the
island, and it is open 0900-2100 weekdays, 0830-2100 Saturdays,
and 0830-1300 Sundays and holidays.
town of Horta and the island of Faial offer many restaurants, and
eating out is so inexpensive by American standards that you may
find yourself in search of a restaurant for most every meal. Be
sure to try the excellent Portuguese and Azores wines.
Here are a four stops Milt and Judy enjoyed on their short visit
to Horta in May 2003:
Peter's Café Sport Some years ago Newsweek labeled this
one of the best bars in the world, and the tradition continues today.
Peter's is like a magnet for yachtsmen, and no visit to Horta is
complete without at least stopping here for a drink. Café Sport
always seems to be crowded, especially late in the afternoon in
the spring when sailors fill the bar to overflowing. To be sure,
it's more more a drinking establishment than a true restaurant,
but sandwiches and snacks are available--along with advice in just
about any language you might want to hear. Don't miss scrimshaw
display (for a small admission charge) on the second floor. Just
up the steps from the new marina and to the right on Largo do Infante
Canto da Doca Walk up and out of the new marina and turn
left, and you'll find this restaurant minutes away at the end of
the basin overlooking the marina. Fresh fish and meats are served
at your table and cook right before your eyes on superheated volcanic
stone slabs. This restaurant is a favorite with visitors and locals
alike, and the food is delicious. We can personally recommend the
tuna and the beef. Estrade Nova, Horta, tel. 292-292-444.
Papapizza Just like an old fashioned pizza parlor--tile
floor and everything--Papapizza offers the biggest selection of
pizzas and burgers on the island, and, take your choice, you can
eat in or take out. The pizzas are heavy with delicious Azores cheeses.
On the street just above the old marina, about a five-minute walk
from your slip depending on how fast you walk. Largo do Infante
D. Henrique nº4 r/c, Horta, tel. 292-283-585
O Esconderijo (the Hideaway) You'll need a car for the
20-minute drive to this tiny place nestled in the hills of Cedros
on the north side of the island, but it's worth the drive. Be sure
to call Nick, the Swiss proprietor, for directions because it's
hard--really hard--to find. Nick is also the chef, and his kitchen
turns out wonderful European food--his French fries are among the
best we've ever had. Daily specials. Eat inside or outside on the
patio. Rua Joan Alves nº3, Cedros, tel. 292 946 505
The rally fee includes a four-hour tour of the island of Faial as
detailed below. An optional tour of the adjacent island of Pico
will also be offered if there is sufficient interest. Details on
the tours are as follows:
Half Day Tour of Faial Duration: About 4 Hours
Price: included in rally fee
Includes: Bus tour with English speaking guide
Minimum Participants Per Bus: 15
Maximum Participants Per Bus: 50
Horta. Drive along the oceanside and sloping hills that overlook
the city of Horta from the East. Stop at Espalamaca for a beautiful
view of Horta, Pico and São Jorge. On a clear day you can sometimes
see the island of Graciosa. Drive by fields cut by masses of hydrangeas
overlooking the Flamengos Valley, the first Flemish settlement on
Faial. Largo Jaime de Melo. Colourful forests of Japanese cedar.
Stop at the volcanic Caldeira where you can visit the peaceful interior
of a crater 400 meters deep and 2 kilometers wide. Ribeira Funda.
Praia do Norte. Stop at the Capelinhos Volcano and the ruins caused
by the volcanic eruption of 1957/58. Visit the Capelo Park, a nature
reserve. Drive along the south coast through Castelo Branco and
Feteira. Arrival back in Horta.
Optional Full Day Tour of Pico Duration: About 8 Hours
Includes: Boat tickets HORTA/PICO/HORTA, Bus Tour with English speaking
guide, Lunch at a local restaurant
Minimum Participants Per Bus: 25
Maximum Participants Per Bus: 50
Maximum 4 Busses Per Day
Departure from Horta on the 10:00 ferry to the island of Pico.
Arrival in the village of Madalena at 10:30. Cabeço Chão and Miragaia,
picturesque villages. Stop at Arcos do Cachorro. Santa Luzia. The
presence of the sea and São Jorge accompany you. Stop in São Roque
to visit the Old Whaling Factory. View of São Miguel Arcanjo. Drive
along the heavily dense trees. Lajes. Visit the Whale Museum (entrance
fee not included). Lunch. Stop in São Mateus for those who want
to visit the church and/or do some shopping for souvenirs. Beautiful
Horta has two full-service laundries offering wash and dry and folding
service, with pick up and delivery service. One is located at the
end of the marina just beyond the fish dock area, and the other
is just around the corner from the Cafe Volga. If you have difficulty
finding them, ask at the marina office.
In addition, the marina offers a self-service laundromat (four
washers, four dryers) in the old marina in the same building as
the snack bar.
Internet connections are available in Horta and are generally speedier
than those found in Bermuda.
Espaco Talassa (www.espacotalassa.com) has two fast Internet connections
at the rear of their whale watching shop beside Costa & Martins,
Rua Conselheiro Medeiros (just across from the old marina) at about
€4.00/hour in May 2003.
Base Peter Zee, just up the street from Peter's Café Sport, also
sells whale watching trips and has several computers and offers
Intenet access at competitve prices.
Hortanet, 11 R. Walter Bensaúde, offers Internet access on eight
stations for €4.80/hour. This shop is located just before Matriz
on the right side of the street going northbound.
Agent Marco Quadros invites Rally participants to use the Bensuade
Agency's Internet connection, using Bensaude's computers, on a space-available
basis at no charge. The office is just up from the new marina at
number 42 Rua Vasco de Gama.
Mid Atlantic Yacht Services (MAYS) has metered direct dial phone
booth with phone jack for www access using your own laptop and your
own Internet provider via dialup connection. You can buy a PT phone
card at MAYS to pay for your calls.
Travel to Azores and within the Islands
Virtually all flights to the Azores are through Lisbon. Among the
few exceptions are twice-weekly Azores Express charter flights from
Boston to Ponta Delgada, which require connecting flights to Horta.
For further information, go to www.satavirtual.org/aexpress/menustart.html
(in Portuguese) or call 1-800-762-9995 to speak to someone in English.
Milt and Judy Baker used this charter service in May 2003 and while
they report while it had a cattle-car feeling and every seat was
taken, it offered a reasonably priced and time-saving direct flight
to Horta--something not available elsewhere. (However, their flight
arrived an hour late, which caused them to miss their connecting
flight to Horta requiring them to remain overnight in Ponta Delgada.
Milt concluded that in the end, flying through Lisbon may have been
There are several round-trip flights a week between Lisbon and
Horta, as well as daily flights between Horta and other islands
in the Azores.
Horta has several good travel agents; according to Jimmy Cornell
the best is HORTATUR (Rue Conselheiro Medeiros 7, tel. 292-391-531/2
(email@example.com) a couple of doors up from Costa e Martins
opposite the marina. Contacts there: Cora Rodrigues and Elizabeth
Mello. Other travel agents: Abreu, 292-208-490 and TopAtlantico,
Ferries run between the Horta waterfront and Pico, Sao Jorge and
Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of StateBureau of Consular AffairsWashington,
DC 20520Consular Information Sheet Portugal May 8, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Portugal
is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist
facilities are widely available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport
is required for entry into Portugal. A visa is not required for
tourist or business stays of up to 90 days. Portuguese law requires
some non-European Union foreign nationals to register with immigration
officials within three days of entering Portugal. The law affects
those who transit a Schengen country (Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden
and The Netherlands) by air en route to Portugal and stay at noncommercial
accommodations. For further information concerning entry requirements
for Portugal, travelers may contact the Embassy of Portugal at 2125
Kalorama Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-8610,
or the Portuguese consulates in Boston, MA; New Bedford, MA; Providence,
RI; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; San Francisco, CA; or Los Angeles,
DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition
to being subject to all Portuguese laws affecting U.S. citizens,
dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special
obligations on Portuguese citizens. U.S. citizens who are considered
to have acquired Portuguese citizenship may be subject to certain
aspects of Portuguese law such as mandatory voting and military
service. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs
home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our flyer
on Dual Nationality.
CRIME INFORMATION: Though Portugal
has a relatively low rate of violent crime, petty crime against
tourists is on the rise in continental Portugal. Travelers may become
targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly at popular
tourist sites, restaurants, and on public transportation. Rental
cars and vehicles with non-local license plates are targets for
break-ins, and travelers should remove all luggage from vehicles
upon parking. Travelers should also avoid using automatic teller
machines in isolated or poorly lit areas. Drivers in continental
Portugal should keep car doors locked when stopped at intersections.
In general, visitors to Portugal should carry limited cash and
credit cards, and leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents
at home or in a hotel safe. While thieves may operate anywhere,
the U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of theft from the following
Lisbon Area: Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching in the Lisbon area
occur in buses, restaurants, the airport, trains, train stations,
and trams, especially tram number twenty-eight to the Castle of
Sao Jorge. Gangs of youths have robbed passengers on the Lisbon-Cascais
train. At restaurants, thieves snatch items hung over the backs
of chairs or placed on the floor. There have been reports of theft
of unattended luggage from the Lisbon Airport. Special care should
be taken at the Santa Apolonia and Rosso train stations, the Alfama
and Bairro Alto districts, the Castle of Sao Jorge and Belem.
Other Areas: Thefts have been reported in Sintra, Cascais, Mafra
and Fatima. Automobile break-ins occur in parking areas at tourist
attractions and near restaurants. Special care should be taken in
parking at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra; and at
the beachfront areas of Quincho, Cabo da Roca, and Boca do Inferno.
Azores: In contrast to continental Portugal, pick-pocketing and
purse-snatching are not common occurrences in the Azores. There
are no reports of organized crime or gangs.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. The emergency number for medical and police assistance
is 112. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet,
A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey.
The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the
Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau
of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE:
Medical facilities are available in Portugal, but in some cases
they may not meet U.S. standards. U.S. medical insurance is not
always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid
programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the
United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash
payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require health
care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your
insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas,
including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage.
Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical
evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital
or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you
incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans
Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home
page at http://travel.state.gov or autofax service at (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information
on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's
hotline at 1-877-fyi-trip (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-cdc-faxx
(1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions
that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Portugal is provided for general reference only,
and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good to Fair
Portugal has one of the highest rates of automobile accidents and
fatalities in Europe. Portuguese driving habits, high speeds, and
poorly marked roads pose special hazards. In continental Portugal,
fines for traffic violations are substantial and usually must be
paid on the spot. Taxis are a reliable means of transportation,
though travelers should pay attention to discrepancies between the
meter fare and the amount requested by the driver. Buses are reliable
In the Azores, driving can be treacherous due to narrow cobblestone
streets, blind curves, unprotected embankments, herds of cows in
the countryside roads, and the high speeds of other drivers. In
contrast to the continent, traffic violations are registered by
radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service
- payments are not made on the spot. Taxis do not have meters. The
fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled.
Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7:00 a.m. and
generally operate until 8:00 p.m. depending on the destination.
U.S. visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's
license for up to six months. For international driving permits,
please contact AAA in the U.S. at tel. 1-800-222-4357. For specific
information concerning Portuguese driver's permits, vehicle inspection
and mandatory insurance, please contact the Portuguese National
Tourist Office by telephone at 1-800-767-8842 or via the Internet
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government
of Portugal's Civil Aviation Authority as category 1 - in compliance
with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Portugal's
air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact
the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel.
1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers
may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Portuguese
customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary
importation into or export from Portugal of such items as firearms,
antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples and
other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Portugal
in Washington, D.C. or one of the Portuguese consulates in the United
States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Portugal's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) carnet for the temporary admission
of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for
exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located
at theU.S Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of The
Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA carnet
in the United States. For additional information, please telephone
(212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit
http://www.uscib.org for details.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a
foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws
and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those
in the United States and may not afford the protections available
to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law
can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating Portuguese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled,
arrested or imprisoned. In 2001, Portugal made consumption, acquisition
and possession for personal use of small amounts of drugs, not to
exceed 2.5 grams of hashish or 1 gram of cocaine or heroin, an administrative
offense. Criminal penalties for trafficking in illegal drugs, however,
are strict and can range up to 15 years in prison. If the defendant
belongs to a criminal organization, jail sentences range from a
minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 20 years.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Portugal
has a history of infrequent but severe seismic activity. Responsibility
for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with
the Portuguese authorities. General information regarding disaster
preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS:
Americans living in or visiting Portugal may register at the Consular
Section of the U.S Embassy in Lisbon and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Portugal. Embassy is located on Avenida
das Forças Armadas, Sete Rios, telephone (351)(21) 727-3300, fax
(351)(21) 726-9109, Internet home page: http://www.american-embassy.pt.
The U.S. Consulate is located in Ponta Delgada on the Island of
San Miguel in the Azores. The address is Avenida D. Henrique, telephone
(351)(96) 282216/ 7/ 8/ 9. There is also a Consular Agency located
in Funchal, Madeira, on Rua Tentente Coronel Sarmento, Ed. Infante,
Bloco B-4 Andar, Apt. B, 9000 Funchal, telephone (351)(29) 174-3429
or fax (351)(29) 174-3808, open Monday through Friday from 10:00
a.m. to 12:00 noon.