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Santa Maria Holidays

Santa Maria holidays

The Island of the Sun

Santa Maria is the oldest island of the archipelago. It was here that Christopher Columbus sought refuge in 1493 on his return from his voyage to America. Santa Maria is different from the other islands in that it is flatter and therefore dryer, warmer and with a lower humidity. The west, being the flatter area of the island, has higher temperatures and low growing vegetation. The central mountainous area and the rest of the island are more heavily wooded (with many endemic plants) with high cliffs and hillsides plunging into the ocean. To the South is Praia Formosa, one of the best beaches of the Azores (Blue Flag status) – and one of the few white sand beaches in the archipelago and the Baia da Praia nature reserve.

Baia de Sao Lourenco, Santa Maria, the Azores

Holidays In Santa Maria

There are wonderful exploratory itineraries around the island.

Anjos, where Columbus landed, the quaint town of Sao Pedro, the white Algarve style houses of picturesque Santa Barbara in the forested north and Pico Alto (587m) from where one can see the whole of the island.

The 15th century town of Vila do Porto is the oldest in the Azores and has long streets leading to the 16th century cliff top fort of Sao Bras with the port below.

At the tiny village of Maia, the steep hillsides leading down to the ocean have been terraced with black volcanic rocks over many generations to hold the fertile soil in place in order to grow vines, wheat and corn. Maia also boasts a natural swimming pool that has achieved Blue Flag status.

There are also the Baia de Sao Lourenco, Ilheus das Formigas and Baia da Maia nature reserves – all wonderful places to explore.

Area: 97 sq. km
Length: 17 km (11 miles)
Width: 9.5 km (6 miles)
Population: 5,500 inhabitants
Capital: Vila do Porto

Sweet Tooth
Traditional home-made biscuits and cakes can be found in local bakeries. You must try the Pastel de Nata – a deliciously creamy custard tart! There is a good bakery near Santo Espirito.

Pico Alto
The highest point on the island offers magnificent views over the whole island.

Anjos Chapel
The chapel at Anjos is one of the oldest in the Azores. Christopher Columbus attended mass here on his way back from America.

Handicrafts
Traditional handicrafts include weaved table cloths and clothing.

Colourful houses
The window frames and borders of traditional houses on Santa Maria adopt a colour associated with their specific village. Blues, yellows, greens and reds are used.

  • Festas de Santo António (Santo Espírito) – 2nd week of June
  • Festas de Sao João (Vila do Porto) – 24 June
  • Festas N.Sra da Assunção (Vila do Porto) – August
  • Festival Maré de Agosto (music festival in Praia Formosa) – 3rd week of August

Note: Dates subject to change.

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