Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo – The volcanic ring

It was created from an underwater volcanic eruption and was shaped by the sea. This unique islet located a few meters from the coast of the city of Vila Franca do Campo, on the island of S. Miguel, has resisted the erosion inherent to the years. The only inhabitants of this small natural paradise are still plants and animals. Humans are welcome, but they can only use this space, with a total area of ​​95 hectares, with rules and only during certain hours of the day.

In the interior of the islet, which has sheltered several ships from storms and conflicts, there is an almost circular bay, which resulted from the crater of an extinct volcano more than four thousand years ago. It measures approximately 150 meters in diameter and is about 20 meters deep. It communicates with the sea through a small passage, called a boquete.

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Several stories and legends are associated with this Nature Reserve, which have been passed on from generation to generation. For centuries it was considered the ideal place to build a harbor, but the dream never came true. Also, on this islet there were meetings and secret conversations about the future of the Azores. Many other episodes are told by the inhabitants of Vila Franca do Campo, used to looking daily at a symbol of the city and, as they say, “one of the most beautiful islets in the Azores”.

More than a viewpoint or regional tourist landmark, the islet is increasingly recognized worldwide for its richness and environmental interest. It is a nesting and passing area for some species of seabirds, such as the Cory’s Shearwater and the Common Tern, which made the islet included in the international list of “Important Bird Areas”, by “BirdLife International”. More recently, a segment of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on the islet of Vila Franca do Campo has taken images of this idyllic place and its clear waters all over the world.

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