Pico (meaning Peak) is the second largest island (after S. Miguel) and is said to be the most beautiful and underrated island in the Azores. It is part of the central group, separated from Faial by a 6 kilometre channel and has approximately 433 square kilometres. Pico has a population of about 14800, with the largest city being Madalena with around 6300 inhabitants.
Pico Volcano, rising a majestic 2341 meters above the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, occupies the western part of the island. Pico is characterized by black, volcanic soil that provides excellent soil for a world famous wine. The historical vineyards are a UNESCO world heritage.
Pico Island has a history of whaling that lasted until the 1980’s. Today, the whaling boats have been replaced with whale-and dolphin-watching boats and, of course, diving boats.
There are three marine protected areas (MPAs) and one archaeological (link?) underwater park on this island. The three MPAs of Porto das Lajes, Ponta da Ilha and Canal Faial-Pico (sector Pico) were placed in order to protect the resources from overexploitation. They span over an area of more than 70 square kilometres.