Santa Maria has many white sandy beaches and natural pools with excellent conditions for summer activities. The most famous one is Formosa Beach, where you can enjoy surfing, windsurfing, water skiing and sailing.

A boat trip, which passes through the Romeiro Islet grotto, with its natural interior pier and where there’s a mysterious grotto with stalactites and stalagmites, is the best way to discover the magnificent coast. The coastal shoreline is excellent for fishing and underwater hunting.

The abundance of underwater life provides snorkeling enthusiasts with unforgettable moments. The islets of Vila, Lagoinhas and S. Lourenço, as well as the Encharéus Grotto and the Tagarete Bay are places of unique beauty. Around 37 km northwest of the Santa Maria coast, you’ll find Formigas, an interesting group of eight islets which, mainly because they are isolated, are a privileged resting and nesting place for many sea birds, while also possessing a rich underwater fauna, which confers it the status of Natural Reserve.

Paragliding is also one of the many activities that can be enjoyed in Santa Maria’s various bays.

With a guide and proper equipment, it’s possible to explore natural grottos, such as Furna de Santana and Furna Velha, or manmade grottos, such as the Figueiral Grotto.

History of Santa Maria 

Located in the most southeastern part of the beautiful Azores Archipelago, the Island of Santa Maria was the first to be officially discovered, by Diogo Silves, around 1427, and its capital is located in Vila do Porto, the oldest of the Azores villages.

The archipelago of the Azores is divided into three groups: the Eastern Group, consisting of São Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas islets; the Central Group with Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Terceira and Graciosa; and the Western Group, formed by the islands of Flores and Corvo. The date of the Archipelago’s discovery is unknown, but historical chains claim that the Azores islands already appeared in Genovese maps in 1351. Nevertheless, it was in 1431 that the islands began to be populated.

The Island of Santa Maria maintains its ancient traditions, combined with a unique architectural heritage and amazing nature, owner of great pieces of land of sedimentary origin where varied marine fossils can be found – a testimony of the passage of centuries in this territory.

The highest point on the island is located at Pico Alto, at an altitude of 590 meters, from where it’s possible to view panoramas of great beauty, allowing you to really observe the territory’s natural intensity.

A place of fertile territory, over the centuries it has taken advantage of the best that the land has to offer, basing its economy on agriculture and livestock, but also in other sectors, such as transportation, especially aerial, with great developments since the construction of the Airport.

The Island of Santa Maria is characterized by its housing nuclei, which are a great reminder of the continental regions of the Algarve and Alentejo, with white masonry houses decorated with colored bands, a legacy left by the first settlers in the 15th century, who mainly originated from these regions. Full of natural beauty, Santa Maria is known for the beautiful colors of its landscapes, where the yellow and ocher of the soil and its harvests, the green of the fields and the deep blue of the ocean create unique sceneries, with so much to see and experience, providing the best conditions for the practice of sports and activities, both natural and leisure, or simple contemplation.

In the Santa Maria Museum, in Santo Espírito, you’ll discover more about this beautiful Island’s history and ethnography, which is also famous for its handcraft with items made in red clay, wool, wicker and straw.

Visit the Island of Santa Maria

The island of Santa Maria stretches for 16.6 kilometers in length and 9.1 kilometers in maximum width, occupying an area of 97 km2, where 5 552 people live (2011 data).

Santa Maria is part of the Eastern Group of the Azores archipelago, together with São Miguel, an island from which it distances 81 kilometers.

The highest point on the island, at an altitude of 587 meters, is located at Pico Alto, at 36° 58’59” north latitude and 25°05’26” west longitude.


Smasoltrav your travel agency on the Island of Santa Maria