PR5SMA | South Coast

PR5SMA | South Coast

This short trail starts at the Dalberto Pombo Interpretation Centre, where the naturalist’s collections have been gathered. Going down from here to the Fort of São Brás, through Vila do Porto’s main artery, you will easily recognize the old buildings that recall the history of the original settlement of the island and of the Azores.

The Fort of São Brás, a military construction from the 17th century, offers a good viewpoint over the Calhau da Roupa Bay, to the left, and the commercial port – the island’s preferred location for all trade exchanges – to the right.

To the left of the fort, follow a narrow path that leads to the Ribeira de São Francisco. In this area, and particularly in autumn and winter, a number of migrating bird species can be observed: the grey heron (Ardea cinerea), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the coot (Fulica atra) and the Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata).

On your way to Pedreira do Campo, have a look behind to contemplate the view over the upper portion of the Vila Islet, a highly important Natural Reserve for the nesting of marine birds such as the Bulwer’s petrel (Bulweria bulwerii).

The Pedreira do Campo, classified as a Natural Regional Monument, corresponds to an old inert exploitation front. Here, the presence of abundant and diversified marine fossil contents, at an altitude of 180m above sea level, reveals a part of the island’s geological history and the marine regression which occurred about 5 million years ago.

The trail then crosses some pastures towards Touril, where you will find the Cave and the Lime Kiln of Figueiral. The cave, an artificial excavation from which lime and clay were once extracted, offers a quiet ambience for a little contemplation and rest.

The trail then proceeds along the south coast, through a footpath once used for limestone transportation. Besides the pleasant view over the sea, you can also observe the endemic flora, namely the fire tree (Morella faya) and the wild fig tree (Pericallis malvifolia), or some introduced species like the orange pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum), the century plant (Agave americana), the prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) and the myrtle (Myrtus communis).

Besides the aforementioned fauna, you can also observe the common buzzard (Buteo buteo rothschildi), the rock dove (Columba livia), the Santa Maria chickadee (Regulus regulus sanctae-mariae) and the European robin (Erithacus rubecula); you might as well be surprised by some wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on the run.

Signs will then guide you to the entrance of a new pasture leading to the slope ridge on top of Prainha. Here you may opt to go down or otherwise to follow the footpath near the tall New Zealand Christmas trees (Metrosideros excelsa), towards the regional road that will take you to the Macela lookout.

The descent to Prainha meanders through low bushes and scrubs; take the opportunity to rest on its white sand or to take a dip in its clear waters. Continuing the trail you will reach the ruins of the Forte da Prainha, where you can either go up to the Macela lookout or proceed along the coast, near the sea. In either case you will end up at Praia Formosa – but the first option includes, from the lookout onwards, a section of the regional tarmac road.