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Santa Maria island

Located at 28 ° 08 'west and 37 º 43' north, the island of Santa Maria is located in the Azores archipelago, in the middle Atlantic Ocean - between Europe and North America (760 nautical miles from Lisbon and 2,110 from New York).

Santa Maria has a population of about 5000, which is distributed by the five villages that make up the municipality of Vila do Porto, including São Pedro, Almagreira, Santo Espírito, Santa Bárbara and Vila do Porto.

The island has an area of ​​approximately 97 km2 with 17 km long and 9.5 km at its widest. It has a varied landscape, presenting a quite hilly area between the villages of Santa Bárbara and Santo Espírito, and another flatter where is Vila do Porto and the villages of São Pedro and Almagreira. Between the mountainous area and the plain area is the Pico Alto (“High Peak”), the highest point on the island with about 590 meters of altitude.
The shore is very cropped with many bays and little coves, some of them housing sandy beaches, as São Lourenço and Praia Formosa.

Santa Maria is the only island of the Azores whose ground includes formations of sedimentary origin, lying wide variety of mollusks fossils and other marine species.

The climate is mild and temperate, being the warmer and drier of all the Azores. With weak thermal amplitudes, average annual temperatures vary between 12 ° C (54 ° F) in winter and 25 ° C (77 ° F) in summer.

What to do in Santa Maria?

Nature / outdoor

To know the nature and peculiarities of wild fauna and plants of Santa Maria in perfect communion with a stunning scenery, we recommend that you first visit the Interpretive Center Adalberto Pombo, in Vila do Porto, to prepare your attention to the natural treasures of this Azores Island.
Independently or guided you can walk through the hiking trails, which are properly identified and will position you in the front row of unforgettable landscapes.

If you are a lover or curious in geology, do not miss the opportunity to meet Geosites, ie sites identified and classified by a rich and vast geodiversity and geological heritage. The Geosites beyond represent the geodiversity that characterizes the Azorean territory also reflect its geological and eruptive history.
In the western of the Island it is visible sedimentary formations, which comes from the Miocene to the Quaternary period, as well as a large quantity of marine fossils, very rare in volcanic regions, with geomorphological formations which give it a great beauty scenario.

The Azores archipelago, located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between mainland Europe and America, is a place of great interest to bird watching, revealing itself as one of the most popular destinations in Europe for birdwatchers. In its entirety the archipelago has 30 breeding bird species, but due to its central position in the Atlantic Ocean, is distinguished by observation of migratory birds coming from the American and Eurasian continents. The Azores are the most important populations of Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris DIOMEDIA borealis), and sandwich terns (Sterna dougallii). Of the many species that can be seen in Santa Maria, Estrelinha, Regulus regulus azoricus, is the most popular.

And for a perfect picnic or barbeque, we recommend the Nature Reserves of Fontinhas, Valverde or Mata do Alto, which are equipped with various facilities such as picnic area, tables and grills, child playgrounds and toilets.

Beach and Sea

São Lourenço and Praia Formosa are two privileged places with sandy beach for swimming that deserve a visit. The bays of São Lourenço and Praia Formosa also provide unique conditions for the practice of windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and surf.

The pebble beach's of Figueiral and Baía dos Lobos and small beaches of Prainha and Sul, with access by pedestrian trail or by sea, as well as pools of São Lourenço, Maia and Anjos are also bathing areas where you can spend pleasant moments.

Take a boat trip, know the island seen from "outside" and dive in the multicolored sea on Santa Maria, which is a haven for observers of undersea flora and fauna, including the observation of manta rays and whale sharks.
Numerous fishing grounds provide good catches of varied species as salaam, the kingfish, barracuda to the see, anchovies and sea bream.

Adventure

If you are a fan of adventure and adrenaline alied to nature, you can have an unique perspective of Santa Maria by mountain bike, downhill, trail run, rappel, canyoning, coasteering or paragliding.
For the Geocachers and explorers you can discover little treasures in the Island of Bei Pirate.

Festivals, events and festivities

Santa Maria is an island with a strong entertainment component and a festive spirit, which is due to several Santa Maria’s associations and private companies that every year strive for excellence and amaze both locals and visitors with various events and festivities.

In July there is Maia Folk and Santa Maria Blues and in August Maré de Agosto, three festivals with international artists. In august, if you love motor sports, there is Rallye Além Mar Santa Maria.


Between June and September, all the parishes of the island have a festivity in honor of his patron saint, who joins communities and visitors around traditional music and regional cuisine.

One of the most important cultural activities of the Azores (although particularities from island to island) are the celebrations of the Holy Spirit.
In Santa Maria, it’s called "empires" in honor of the Holy Spirit, and the tradition is to distribute free of charge "soups", cooked according to ancient traditions. In this celebration there are tradition songs and rituals themselves worthy of your participation.

The Empires take place almost every Sunday between Pentecost (seventh Sunday after Easter) and the end of August, and take place in different “copeiras”, small rooms where the soup is served to all those who dare to be delighted in this tradition on Santa Maria.

© Casa do Oleiro - 2018