Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the colourful capital of Terceira, Angra do Heroísmo, is filled with impressive monuments and historic buildings that bear witness to the importance of this strategic port. It is fascinating to wander around the streets and see the influence of Europe, Asia and America in the buildings.
Outside of the city there are several highlights on Terceira. Of these, the Carvão Cave located in the centre of the island is perhaps the most impressive. At the site of this dormant volcano you can descend to a depth of up to 100 metres to an underground Cavern. Created by a volcanic vent, at the bottom is a lake with crystal-clear water and several stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It feels as if you are in another world.
Praia da Vitória also attracts lots of visitors. It is one of the more modern towns of the Azores – perfect for those who love the sun as it has a long stretch of beach as well as excellent water sports facilities. Diving is of course one of the options as Terceira offers a wide variety of excellent sites.
One of the diving highlights of Terceira is the Underwater Archaeological Park located in the Bay of Angra do Heroísmo, which offers several sites that will appeal to any diver interested in the history and culture of the island. The main attractions of this park are undoubtedly the Cemetery of Anchors, where you can see over 40 anchors from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and the 78-metre long steamer ‘Lidador’ that wrecked here in 1878.
As well as the sites influenced by man, the geological formation of the island also provides interesting some excellent marine life and rock formations worthy of a visit. There is excellent dive sites on this island that are known for their abundant sea life, such as the small islets of Fradinhos that rise to the surface about 5 miles from the island’s south coast. Here dusky groupers and barred hogfishes glide through the clear waters, along with large schools of pelagic fish.
The Cinco Ribeiras Cave can also be found on this island. It is one of the most interesting cave dives of the Azores archipelago with a number of long interconnected chambers that provide a thrilling challenge for explorers.
Terceira is also the closest island to one of the best dive sites of the Azores, the Dom João de Castro Bank seamount, the top of a volcanic cone where you can still see volcanic activity and where it is common to find large schools of pelagic fish.