Horta: The most colourful marina in the world

Marina da Horta
Place: Ilha do Faial nos Açores
Photo: Turismo de Portugal
Photo: Turismo de Portugal

Don't miss
  • enjoy a gin and tonic in Peter Café Sport
  • watch the sunset from the Marina in Horta, with the magnificent Island of Pico as a backdrop
  • wander around the marina and admire the various wall paintings by the yachtsmen

When on Faial, a visit to the Horta Marina is a must for the excitement of seeing the yachts moored there and for the great open air exhibition of paintings made on the jetty by all the visiting sailors.

This nautical amenity was opened in 1986, and is the modern extension of a harbour and bay of long-standing importance. The marina has space for 300 vessels, and is currently the fourth most visited ocean marina and certainly one of the most important in the world. It has held the European Blue Flag since 1987.

Its location offers an excellent shelter against the winds from any direction and makes it an almost essential stopover for the hundreds of yachts from different nationalities that call here annually on their voyages across the North Atlantic, and also for yachts travelling between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

Several international regattas are held here every year, usually directed at ocean-going cruiser yachts, with this marina acting either as the finishing line or one of the ports of call, making Horta a meeting point for many international sailing events such as Les Sables-Les Azores-Les Sables, Atlantique Pogo, La Route des Hortensias, ARC Europe, Ceuta-Horta, OCC Azores Pursuit Race, amongst many others.

Peter’s Café Sport, the most charismatic café in the North Atlantic, is often associated with the marina and sailors. It opened its doors for the first time to sailors more than 80 years ago, and it has offered its hospitality and fantastic stories of the sea, tempered by the simplicity of the Azorean people, over a gin and tonic, ever since. Upstairs, you can visit the Museum of the Art of Scrimshaw, which contains the largest private collection of utensils and pieces of art carved out of, or etched into, the jawbone and teeth of sperm whales.

Amongst all this activity, the Horta Marina has another source of fascination too: the myth of the paintings on the walls of the port. Nobody knows how and when it started, but probably one day a crewman from a yacht anchored in Horta decided he should leave a painted souvenir of his stay on Faial on the dock wall.
The first painting was followed by others, and they now occupy the entire length of the wall. New ones are painted over old paintings and what was a dark, uneven surface has been transformed into a colourful display of drawings and words recalling the many yachts that have docked in Horta.

A superstition began circulating among residents that vessels which, for one reason or another, failed to leave a record of their presence, would suffer a serious accident.
So as not to tempt fate, every sailor now uses his brush and paint to sketch a drawing and some words that refer to his vessel or voyage, and a giant mosaic of vivid murals has thus been created over the decades by countless crews.

Horta Marina is also the point of departure for observation boats setting out to catch sight of the large marine mammals and agile dolphins that find abundant feed in the waters surrounding the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge. The vocation of Faial for sea sports is supplemented by fishing and by underwater observation. And its high point is the Sea Week, in August, in which the yacht regattas and races for whaling canoes join together in a festival that enlivens the whole city.

If distance is an unforgettable milestone for any yachtsman, if you finish your voyage in Horta Marina, you’ll have the added bonus of achieving such a feat in a place where the sea is its very lifeblood.

Advanced search
Planning See your selected contents and create your own Plan or Brochure
Forgotten your password?
Login using social networks
*Please wait *The password recovery instructions will be sent to your e-mail. *E-mail not sent. Try again.
Login using social networks