Quiet and picturesque Graciosa is the second smallest island on the archipelago, located about 22 nautical miles from the island of São Jorge and 43 nautical miles from the island of Terceira. The main draw here is the beautiful town of Santa Cruz da Graciosa, a protected area rich in architectural and cultural heritage. Graciosa is the least mountainous island of the Azores, with a gigantic caldera occupying a large area of the eastern side of the island. Within this caldera lies the Furna do Enxofre (Sulphur Cave), a large and imposing lava cave accessible by 200 step spiral staircase.
The volcano has also provided a series of thermal baths along the rugged coastline of the island, particularly good for sore muscles after a day hiking. The most famous of these is the Carapacho Spa, located in a sheltered bay overlooking the Carapacho Islets. You can visit here en-route to the town of Praia, where you can swim in the sea and also sample the islands famous egg custard tarts.
For divers, Graciosa offers a wide variety of sites along the entire coast, from the town of Santa Cruz or the town of Praia, depending on weather conditions. One of the most popular is the ‘Terceirense’ shipwreck, which lies in front of the entrance to the harbour of Praia at a depth of 21 metres. Divers may also be keen to visit the magnificent Carapacho Cave, located in one of the namesake islets. Reef divers should head to the north east coast where the sites of Ferreiro de Fora and the Pesqueiro Longo, both near the town of Santa Cruz, offer many schools of pelagic fish, dusky groupers and colourful stretches of black coral.