It’s also the sunniest, with some of the best beaches in the archipelago making it a favourite holiday destination for many Azoreans. Geologically, it’s the oldest island with a very different landscape to the younger volcanic islands like Pico or Faial. The volcanoes that first formed Santa Maria have had time to erode into pleasant rolling hills, secluded coves and dramatic sea cliffs.
The island was the first to be inhabited, with the first Portuguese settlers arriving in 1439 on the site of the current village of Anjos. Christopher Columbus famously came ashore at Anjos in 1493 on his return voyage from the Americas; attending mass at the chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos. The island’s also famous for its handicrafts with most Azorean families owning a blanket, patchwork quilt or linen tablecloth which was woven 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.
If you’re a hiker, Santa Maria’s circular Grande Trilhos is a great way to explore the island’s coastal walking trails, and the island is one of the Azores’ best mountain biking destinations. It’s just a short fifteen-minute flight from the main island of Sao Miguel, making it the natural choice if you’re thinking of splitting your stay between two islands.
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
Brilliant holiday organised by an excellent company!
Friendly, helpful, professional and completely geared to us as individuals.
John and Janice
Very helpful staff, and the trips they organised for us were excellent with knowledgeable guides.
A really wonderful holiday!
We normally travel independently, but I am go glad that we used Archipelago Choice – their insider knowledge was really helpful in making the most of our time.
Valerie – Brighton