If you've been to the Azores, a remote archipelago of nine Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you've probably made it to the main island of Sao Miguel. If you've dared to venture deeper off the beaten path to outer islands like Faial, then you know what it's like to be welcomed into a world of pure magic and endless intrigue.
Known as "The Blue Island" for its abundance of summer hydrangeas blooming along hedgerows, Faial is part mystery, part cosmopolitan mecca. It was integral for transatlantic telecommunications in the 19th and 20th centuries, became strategic during World War II, and has withstood tumultuous seismic and volcanic activity for millennia. Today, its rolling cow pastures, rich sailing culture, and inviting people offer an authentic place to relax, let go, and truly get away. Best of all, it's closer than you might think. Read on to discover secret Faial and one of the most memorable ways to see it: in a jeep—windows down—with a native islander as your guide.