This walk starts near the Santo Espírito Church, in the parish of the same name; after passing through a place called Maia, it ends at the old Whale Factory in Ponta do Castelo, and has an approximate duration of around three hours.
First the trail crosses the village of Santo Espírito, towards a traditional windmill. After the mill, it continues through a footpath inside a small pittosporum wood and further through some pastures. After the pittosporum wood you will notice, at your right, an abandoned public fountain.
After about 500m, you will come to a fork in the road where you should turn right, to a dirt road known as Caminho da Lapa. Continuing straight ahead you will meet a sign to turn left, into a narrow path that will lead you into an area of water sources, where people used to wash their clothes in the past. Proceed and you will meet another dirt road; turning right, you will start the descent towards the coast.
You will then go through an old stone paved path and soon after you will reach the margin of Ribeira Grande. The trail then follows along the creek until it comes to the top of the cliff, where you must cross the water line, carefully, to its right margin.
Continuing straight ahead you can stop at several places, to look behind you and discover the perfect magnificence of the Aveiro Waterfall. The trail will run for a distance on a footpath along the top of the cliff, and finally will start descending to Maia.
A great number of Aichryson villosum specimens can be observed on this stretch. The plant is endemic to Macaronesia, but in the Azores it only appears in Santa Maria. The footpath down to Maia meanders here regularly through the traditional vine corrals.
Coming down to Maia, you can make a small detour to your left and have a look at the Aveiro Waterfall from below, as well as at a couple of wine presses dating from 1579. Return then to the main trail and proceed towards Ponta do Castelo.
The track goes through the village of Maia and, after around 1km, it diverts to the left, to a stairway that leads to the regional road. When reaching this road, turn left and continue straight ahead until the Gonçalo Velho Lighthouse.
At the base of the lighthouse you will meet a footpath that leads to the sea below. Along this path you can observe several species of the local flora and constantly enjoy the superb view over the ocean and the coast of Malbusca.
Down by the seaside you will find the ruins of the old Whale Factory and a peaceful, cosy bathing area.
This trail goes through an area classified as a Site of Communitary Interest and another area classified as a Natural Reserve.Consult Brochure