Santa Maria Island
The Island of the Sun
Travelling to the Santa Maria island, the 3rd smallest island of the Azores archipelago, is a guarantee of constant surprises due its differences and unique culture and nature features. The most common way to get to Santa Maria island is by plane – from Lisbon (direct flights on Thursdays) or São Miguel (daily fly’s) – or by ferry boat, from May to October.
Being the most southern off all the azorean islands, Santa Maria ends up being the least humid island and the sunniest, reasons why it is also known as the “Island of the Sun”. Also is the island with the only beige-sand beaches all over the Azores archipelago. The most famous are the beaches of São Lourenço and Praia Formosa.
As the oldest island of the Azores (about 8 millions years old) Santa Maria was also the first island to be discovered and populated in the XV century, that’s why it is also called “Mother Island”. Here Christopher Columbus made his port of call upon his return voyage after his first trip to the America.
The nature and the landscape contrast is one of the greatest charms of Santa Maria as well the charming villages on the countryside with its small white houses with colored bars adorned with a type of chimney style imported from southern Portugal by the first settlers. Impressive and unique in the Azores, are also the giant’s steep staircases covered with vineyards in bays of Maia and São Lourenço.
Geologically the island of Santa Maria presents a unique and interesting natural heritage including deposits of marine fossils that are possible to be observed in places such as Pedreira do Campo, Cré and Pedra que Pica. Other geological curious places to visit is the prismatic disjunction of Ribeira do Maloás (Giant’s Causeway), Grutas do Figueiral , Barreiro da Faneca – The Red Desert – , and Cascata do Aveiro, the biggest one in the Azores and one of the largest in Portugal.
Last but not least, Santa Maria island is considered one of the best “spots ” for diving in Europe due its geographical location, climate and magnificent visibilities. Once in Azores, a boat trip around the island is also a highly recommended activity as the coast is very indented, forming small bays and coves accessible only by sea. Check our outdoor activities options.
Come and discover by yourself the charm of this special and magical island and the hospitability and sympathy of the local people.