Santa Maria

Santa Maria is the oldest island in the Azores and closest neighbour to the main island Sao Miguel. Being the most southerly of the islands and with its sandy bays and a lush green interior, Santa Maria is a favourite holiday destination for many Azoreans.

Santa Maria was the first inhabited island in the archipelago, from 1439 at Anjos. Christopher Columbus famously came ashore here in 1493 on his return voyage from the Americas; attending mass at the chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos.

Initially the island’s economy was based around the export of wheat and woad, before the breeding of cattle became more profitable. In the last century, the island's airport played a crucial role as a transatlantic stopover point – to maintain supplies lines between North America and Europe during WWII, and as a refuelling point for Air France Concordes flying between Paris and Caracas.

One of the cultural highlights on the island is its July Blues Festival. The festival always has a strong international flavour – 2015’s line-up included Alvon Johnson from the USA, Joanne Tailor Shaw from the UK and Doghouse Sam and his Magnatones from Belgium, alongside Portuguese artists such as Budda Power Blues.

The island is also famous for its handicrafts, with most Azorean families owning a blanket, patchwork quilt or linen tablecloth which was woven by hand on a traditional loom at the co-operative in Santo Espirito. Wines and sweet liqueurs are also produced on the island, including Aguardente, Licor de Amor, Vinho Abafado and Vinho Abafadinho.

Island figures
Length 17km
Breadth 9.5km
Surface area 97km²
Population 6,000

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I would like to book Santa Maria

Many thanks for booking this experience with Archipelago Choice. We’re on hand from Monday to Friday (0830 to 1730) and can be contacted on 00 44 (0) 17687 75672 should you need additional assistance.

Please fill in the form below to outline your holiday plans and let us know if you have any ‘special requests’. All bookings are on a request basis and we will contact you within 24hrs (48hrs at weekends) to take payment and collect additional pre-travel information (address and passport details etc.). We will contact you to confirm travel details before making any reservations. Please note that completing the form does NOT result in immediate confirmation of your holiday.