The Azores’ Waterfalls – Formation and Location

The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago of nine islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km from mainland Portugal. The islands are known for their stunning landscapes, including a number of beautiful waterfalls. The waterfalls draw in thousands of tourists every year all desperate to take pictures and even swim in the pools. But where can you find the waterfalls and how were they formed?

The Azores Islands

The collection of nine islands was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago and is the result of a triple junction between the Eurasian, Nubian and North American tectonic plates. The junction has been named the Azores triple junction.

The islands are known for their luscious green forests and stunning beaches – but most importantly their amazing waterfalls!

Map highlighting the location of the Azores and the tectonic triple junction on which they lie.

The current population of the Azores is approximately 250,000 people, most of whom are Portuguese. Visitors to the islands will get to learn a lot about their vibrant culture and way of life. The islands are known for their traditional Portuguese architecture, cuisine, and music. Dance and music festivals are popular throughout the year, perfect for tourists that love to party. The Azores are also home to some of the most amazing seafood restaurants in the world – a great place to explore new foods.

The Azores are known for their stunning natural beauty. From breathtaking views of the ocean and islands to green pastures and picturesque villages, the islands offer something for everyone. The islands are one of the best locations for the best whale watching in the world and have a huge variety of hiking and biking trails.

The Azores’ Waterfalls

Popular Waterfalls

The Azores are home to over 200 waterfalls, ranging from small cascades to impressive falls. The Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau is one of the most stunning and makes for beautiful pictures.

Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau is close to Fajã Grande on the Azores island of Flores. It is 90 metres tall and its plunge pool is very deep. The waterfall is highly active during the rainy season with gallons of water dropping every second, but by the summer the flow is reduced to not much more than a trickle. This makes Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau a great location for swimmers (more on this below) as the currents are not very strong at all in peak tourist season.

Other impressive waterfalls in the Azores include the Salto do Cabrito – hidden in the rocks and at the end of an amazing walking trail and the Caldeira Velha – a waterfall with a beautiful blue lagoon at the bottom which looks like something out of a movie.

Visitors that are most intrigued by the waterfalls on the Azores Islands should spend the most time on São Miguel, São Jorge and Flores as these islands have the most waterfalls and the safest hiking trails to reach them.


Waterfalls occur when rivers or streams flow over a sudden drop in elevation. This drop can be caused by a variety of factors, including erosion, tectonic activity, and even landslides.

The majority of waterfalls on the Azores Islands are formed by the erosion of volcanic rocks. Along hundreds of rivers and streams across the islands, water has worn away the rocks, leaving behind the stunning cliffs and cascades that can be found in every nook and cranny.

Erosion is the most common cause of waterfall formation. As a river moves downstream, the force of the water can wear away the rocks and soil at the bottom of the riverbed, creating a steep drop. When the river reaches this drop, it flows over it, creating a waterfall.

Tectonic activity can also cause waterfalls. When two tectonic plates move together, they can create a steep cliff where the plates meet. This cliff can cause the river to plunge downwards, creating a waterfall.

Landslides are also responsible for the formation of a few of the Azores’ waterfalls. When the side of a mountain or valley is unstable, it can collapse and create a steep slope. If a river is running through the area, it can flow over this slope, creating a waterfall.

Waterfalls can also be artificially created if a river has been dammed either naturally or artificially. The water flows over the dam, creating a steep drop and a waterfall.

How to get to the Azores’ waterfalls:

If you’re looking to experience the beauty of the Azores’ waterfalls, the best way to do so is by boat. Many companies offer boat tours around the islands, allowing you to get up close and personal with the stunning scenery.

Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive around the islands, stopping to take in the views at each of the waterfalls. No matter how you choose to explore the Azores’ waterfalls, you’re sure to be blown away by their stunning beauty. With over 200 waterfalls to explore, you’re sure to find at least one that will leave you mesmerised.

Can you swim in the Azores’ waterfalls?

You can certainly find plenty of places to swim on the Azores Islands. The summer months are best to explore the oceans and there are lots of quiet spots to get away from the crowds and enjoy a bath in the ocean. The beaches are the prime spot to go for a dip as there are multiple lava rock pools and harbours that you can enjoy.

Photo by Ross Kohl on Unsplash

But what about the waterfalls?

The Azores waterfalls are incredibly safe for swimming. The water is clean and clear, and there are no strong currents or waves to worry about. The water temperature is also quite pleasant all year round, making it a great spot for swimming even in the winter months.

However, some pools are more suited to swimming than others. You’ll want to find a waterfall that isn’t too crowded, and has a deep enough pool to swim in but is also shallow enough that it’s not dangerous. As there are so many to choose from, you’ll quickly come across one that you’ll love.

When swimming in the Azores waterfalls, you’ll want to make sure to bring the proper safety gear. You should always wear a life jacket or a wetsuit if you’re planning to take a dip in the deeper pools. If you’re not a strong and confident swimmer then it is best to stick to shallower pools.

A luxurious blue pool at the bottom of a mesmerising waterfall.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring a friend or two with you, as the surrounding rocks can be quite slippery and dangerous if you’re not careful.

Another must-see site on the Azores Islands

The Caldeira das Sete Cidades is a stunning natural landmark located on the island of São Miguel in the Azores. It is a volcanic crater lake that was formed by an eruption thousands of years ago. It is one of the most iconic places in the Azores and is a popular spot for visitors to explore.

The crater has become a large body of water surrounded by lush vegetation and there are now two distinct lakes; the Lagoa Azul and the Lagoa Verde. It is a great spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and relaxing. The views from the top are breathtaking and offer a unique perspective of the island. The Caldeira das Sete Cidades is a must-see destination in the Azores.


So there you go, that’s the end of my quick round-up of the waterfalls on the Azores Islands, they certainly are amazing and would be fascinating to visit! As there are so many waterfalls over the nine islands, it’s impossible to determine one cause for their formation and instead, they were formed in a range of different ways. The most beautiful and practical ones for swimming are on the São Miguel, São Jorge and Flores islands. If you ever find yourself on the Azores Islands, make sure to spend plenty of time admiring the many different landforms and taking in the geography!

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