In 2022 the Azores Underwater Cultural Heritage (UWCH) was distinguished with the UNESCO label “European Heritage Site”. This distinction recognizes the importance of UWCH of Azores, made up of > 1000 documented shipwrecks. Azores is also the 1st archipelago in the world internationally certified as “Sustainable Destination” by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Despite of its significant UWCH, Azores so far is a nature tourism destination, a fact that reveals the strategic importance of ecoRoute for Azores. Focusing on Faial, it offers 10 official hiking trails with > 100 km of trail paths. Places such as Capelinhos Volcano & Caldeira (volcano crater with a diameter ≈2000 m, home to the most pristine patches of native forest in the Azores), and the bay of Porto Pim are some of the most visited sites in the island.
Whale watching is also one of the most relevant activities in Faial. The island in 2022 was visited by > 75.000 visitors, with 55% of them being foreigners (central Europe and North America). It offers a wide range of accommodation options, plenty of restaurants, and 5 dive centres. The focus of ecoRoute is the “Main” shipwreck (5m depth) sunk in the bay of Porto Pim, with the entire vessel hull having been preserved, with several beacons. “Main” was an English steamer capsized in 1892 with a fire on board. It constitutes the heritage diving site of excellence on the Faial island, and it easily accessible from the coast.