Santa Maria is the most southerly and sunniest island, and is a favourite holiday destination for many Azoreans.
Santa Maria is the closest island to Sao Miguel and 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.
It is one of the few islands with sandy beaches and its spectacular coves are the most photographed in the archipelago. Its international airport makes it easy to get to – it was even used as a re-fuelling 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.
Visit the Bay of Sao Lourenco, a spectacular shell-shaped bay on the northeast coast lined with pretty vineyards. Or go surfing at Praia Formosa, a beautiful pale sand beach close to Vila do Porto.
From relaxing on sandy beaches to hiking and biking the many trails of Santa Maria, this lesser visited, sunny island is just waiting to be discovered.
Being such a quiet island, there are fewer accommodation choices but there is a lovely boutique hotel in Vila do Porto and lots of pretty self catering cottages dotted around the villages with their traditional Alentejo style chimneys.
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
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