Ponta do Topo and the entire west region of São Jorge constitute the island’s oldest area, which geological formations, predominantly basaltic lava flows, date from 1.32 million years ago. This age is, for instance, translated into the intense alteration of rocky formations present at Cais do Topo, visible due to the ball disjunction and sandy areas of the lava flows and in the peculiar shapes due to coastal erosion. Cabeço da Forca (one of the ten slag cones with morphological expression at the island’s East area) is cut by the cliff and shows its internal structure, including the associated Philonian net. Despite the high degree of alteration in the slabs, the pore texture of the basaltic rock is still perceptible, with abundant peroxin, olivine and plagioclase phenocrystals. The Topo Islander, with a flat surface, was formed from basalt and tuffs from the Topo’s Volcanic Complex, separated from the island, at an approximate distance of 400 meters, due to erosion. This geosite has regional relevance and scientific, educational and geo-touristic interest.
This Protected Area corresponds to the entire land area of the Topo Islander, with about 12.14 ha. It is an area which shows a great diversity of seabirds, such as the roseate terns (Sterna dougallii), the common terns (Sterna hirundo) and the Cory's shearwater bird (Calonectris borealis). Regarding the flora, it is low in diversity. However, it is possible to find specimens of “bracel-da-rocha” “fescue”(Festuca petraea).
Important hydric reserve which comprises several springs and creeks, with an interesting layout consisting of roads and various paths which open to lakes or ponds.
It is an extensive forest reserve, where the atmosphere is fresh and pure, the vegetation thriving and diverse, densely wooded in certain areas, with geometrical nurseries, a playground area, picnic and barbecue sites, walking areas, rustic playing field, small houses, replica of a typical rural kitchen of São Jorge and animal enclosures.
The great lake at the Northern entrance, where the Ermida de São João [Chapel of St. John], the Monument to the Emigrant and the alcove in honor of St. Isidore (an initiative of Portuguese-American emigrants at the end of the 70’s) are built, turns into a stage during the festivities of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Emigrant festivity.
From the Pico da Velha Viewpoints, you get a wonderful panoramic view over Rosais and the Pico and Faial islands and, from the Ferrã de Afonso Viewpoint, you may observe a large extent of the island’s northern coast and the Graciosa and Terceira islands.
Recently concluded, the reserve has wide lawns aimed for the practice of outdoor recreational activities. There is also a porch for picnics, a play area, a playground area, a garden with endemic species, a rock garden, as well as agglomerates of cedars, rows of platanus trees and metrosideros.
Besides these spaces, the Reserve also contains the Canal Viewpoint, where you may observe and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscape, from a perspective over the Southern coast of the São Jorge island to the magnificent view over the Pico’s channel and the Faial island to the East.
The area where the reserve is implemented is irrigated by several waterlines which used to feed old mills, integrated within the reserve. Among these lines, are distributed the paths, picnic sites, barbecue sites, playground areas, walking areas, maintenance circuit, Casa do Formo and animal enclosures.
The Reserve also includes the Relheiras Viewpoint, which allows a panoramic view over the West area of the Reserve, where you may walk through a secular path for ox carts, allowing a sneak-peak at the past life of the island’s population.
The reserve assembles a rich exotic vegetation of tree ferns, pine trees, incense, eucalyptus, platanus, oaks and other leafy vegetation, besides several ornamental bushes. It also includes an area of Azorean endemic species in the Northern slope, throughout one of the paths.
The Simão Dias natural swimming pool is located in Fajã do Ouvidor, one of the greatest lavas fajãs of the Northern coast of São Jorge. The Simão Dias Pond is one of the most emblematic natural swimming pools of the São Jorge island, deemed by many as a real natural paradise. This pond is geologically characteristic for its display of prismatic disjunctions in the sloping cliffs. A prismatic disjunction, just like the one which may be observed at the Simão Dias pond, is a set of great vertical columns of basalt related to contractions generated within the lava flows, during the lava’s cooling and solidification.
Integrated in the protected area for the management of habitats or species of Costa das Velas, it is a land area of about 62 ha, covering the entire North coast from the Velas Marina pier to Urzelina. This area is extremely important as many species of seabird’s nest on the higher slopes, such as Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris borealis) and the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). Regarding the flora, you may find specimens of Azorean Candleberry Tree (Morella faya), Tree Heath (Erica azorica) and “pau-branco” (Picconia azorica).