Overview

Embrace the traditional Azorean lifestyle on our Santa Maria self-catering holiday.

Diminutive Santa Maria is unique among the nine islands of the Azores. It was the first island in the volcanic archipelago to have formed and the first island to be settled by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century – the stepping stone from which the other eight islands were populated.

Santa Maria’s pretty, rural cottages are famous across the Azores for their unique chromatic colour schemes and oversized, wedge-shaped chimneys – more akin to the architecture of the Alentejo and Algarve regions of mainland Portugal (where many of the original settlers hailed from). And the landscapes these cottages inhabit are exceptional – the stunning natural amphitheatre that is Sao Lourenco bay, the wonderful white sands of Praia Formosa beach, the striking Barreiro da Faneca red desert, and steeply-terraced, gravity-defying vineyards of Maia.

Viticulture is alive and well on Santa Maria, albeit on a smaller scale than the famous UNESCO-protected vineyards on Pico. The islanders treasure and protect their handicrafts, knowing these traditional skills were once part of the daily Azorean life and are in danger of fading into memory on many of the larger islands.

Your home for the week is the one-bedroom cottage Casita Cantinho do Paraiso, overlooking the Baia da Praia Formosa on the island’s sunny south coast. If you’re travelling with family or friends, you might prefer a stay next door in the larger, two-bedroom Villa Cantinho do Paraiso. We’ll include a hire car to allow you to explore the whole island, with maps, restaurant guides, and hints and tips on making the most of your stay.

Itinerary

You’ll begin your holiday by flying from Heathrow to the Azores, via Lisbon. You’ll collect a hire car from the airport before driving to your accommodation in Santo Espirito.
You'll visit to the Calçada do Gigante cliffs, the Grutas do Figueiral caves and the 17th century Forte de Sao Braz in the capital Vila do Porto.
Explore Santa Maria’s east coast: Ponta do Castelo and the the Farol de Goncalo Velho lighthouse, the waterfalls at Foz da Ribeira do Aveiro and Poço da Rocha, and the pretty village of Sao Lourenco.
Visit the twin waterfalls at Cascata Cai’Água, the village of Santa Barbara, famous across the Azores for it’s handicrafts, and the summit of Pico Alto, the highest point of the island at 587m.
You might like to visit the Museu de Santa Maria to learn more about the cultural and agricultural history of the island.
Explore the north coast of the island, including the famous Barreiro da Faneca red desert.
Visit the village of Anjos, location of the first settlement in the Azores – where Christopher Columbus first made land on his return from the Americas in 1493.
You'll return your hire car to the airport before flying home, via Lisbon.

From £1900 per person

We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.

INCLUDED: international flights from the UK to the Azores, accommodation in a one bedroom cottage at Casita Cantinho do Paraiso on a self-catering basis, and a hire car.

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