Santa Maria

Sitting at the eastern end of the Azorean Archipelago and keeping the main island of Sao Miguel company, you’ll find the small island of Santa Maria.

Santa Maria Santa Maria is the most southerly of the nine islands of the Azores – 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.

Santa MariaThe island was the first to be inhabited, when pioneering Portuguese settlers arrived 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, to attend mass at the village’s small chapel.

Santa Maria is 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: Licor de Amor and Vinho Abafadinho are popular across the Azores.

Santa MariaIf you’re a keen hiker, Santa Maria’s circular Grande Trilhos is one of the Azores’ great walking challenges, 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.

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