Many travelers wonder what are the best beaches in the Azores. Well, our islands are wonderful nature gems in the middle of the ocean. They display quite a special scenery with unique landscapes you cannot see anywhere else in the world.
Among their magical environment, you can find amazing black-sand beaches, natural swimming pools carved by the ocean between dark lava rocks, and also tropical white sand beaches on one of the 9 islands.
In this post, we will select the best beaches and natural pools in the Azores. So keep reading to know where to go swimming in the beautiful Atlantic.
Best beaches in São Miguel island
São Miguel is the biggest island in the archipelago, so it offers a wide selection of beaches and natural pools. We will see some of the most heavenly beaches and even a warm natural pool heated by volcanic activity. Some of the best beaches of the Azores are definitely here!
Praia das Milícias
Still on the south coast of São Miguel island, Praia das Milícias is popular for surfing and also loved by the local families to spend the day at the beach. Watch the waves on this long black-sand beach and enjoy the Azorean sun.
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Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara
Santa Barbara, or the surfers’ paradise in the Azores, hosts international surf competitions every year. Take a surf lesson with a professional and defy the Atlantic waves. It is also ideal to have a meal with the sound of the ocean at the cafe right next to this long beach. Last but not least, you can visit authentic bunkers built during World War 2 located ahead of the parking lot.
Praia de Água d’Alto
This popular beach is one of the favorite spots for locals on a perfect summer day. At the picnic areas not too far on the road that goes up before the beach, Azorean families share meals, admire the view from Pisão viewpoint and go down to the beach after lunch.
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Praia dos Mosteiros
Sunset lovers, this is the beach you want to go to when on São Miguel island. Watch the sun go down to the ocean between the iconic dark volcanic islets as surfers enjoy the last waves of the day and children play soccer between the last sun rays. You can also have a summer night barbecue on the public grills available along the road to the beach.
Praia dos Moínhos
Located on the north shore of São Miguel island, Praia dos Moinhos is a beautiful black sand beach with clear waters and a submarine islet, perfect for snorkeling in good weather conditions. So, take your mask and snorkel and go on an adventure, or have a drink at the bar listening to the ocean.
Caloura, Água de Pau
The small fishing harbor of Caloura hosts one of the most stunning places to swim on São Miguel’s south coast. A quiet bay well-known by divers and snorkelers with crystal clear waters, colorful fishes, and even a small pool for kids. It is equipped with a toilet and a shower, and right next to the bathing area is one of the best fish restaurants on the island.
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Piscinas da Lagoa (natural pools)
In the town of Lagoa, the natural pool complex is the meeting place for many islanders and foreigners. Inside, several different pools wait for swimmers to discover their underwater secrets. During the low season, the entrance is free of charge. You will also find a snack bar, toilets, and changing rooms.
Ponta da Ferraria
This is truly a wonder of nature. Ponta da Ferraria is the only hot spring in the Azores where you don’t have to pay to enjoy the relaxing warm waters. The best part is that it is located in a volcanic fissure inside the ocean, 100% natural! You just need to go when the sea conditions are good and also at the low tide in order to feel the warmth coming from the ground.
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Portas do Mar
Right next to the center of Ponta Delgada city, it is possible to take a dip in the Atlantic. This pool is where people who work in the city go when they want to lay in the sun on their lunch break or right after work. When it is sunny, the pool can get a bit crowded, but every day early in the morning, you can find the same few people enjoying a quiet and refreshing beginning of the day.
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Praia do Fogo, Ribeira Quente
At this beautiful sandy beach near Furnas, you can find some hydrothermal underwater springs that turn the water a bit warmer. Ribeira Quente is a nice little village between the sea and the mountains. It is known to have the best chicken wings in São Miguel.
Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo
Vila Franca islet is a nature reserve for birds in the winter and one of the most epic beaches in the summer. This submarine volcanic crater offers such an extraordinary setting for swimming in transparent waters and catching some sun rays. It is undoubtedly one of the top 10 best beaches in the Azores. From June to October, a traditional fishing boat takes you there in 10 minutes from the town’s harbor.
Best beaches in Santa Maria island
Santa Maria is the only island where you can find white sand beaches. It is known as the island of the sun and is the driest and, indeed, the sunniest island of the archipelago. So you will find the best tropical beaches of the Azores here. Welcome to the beach paradise, perfect to relax on your holidays.
Praia Formosa is actually a combination of three beautiful beaches. The viewpoint up the hill allows having a great view over the bay and the evolving scenery. The green cliffs behind contrast with the white sand and the clear blue waters. This is where every year since 1984, the international music festival Maré de Agosto takes place.
These artificial pools by the ocean are filled with seawater, ideal for families with kids for safe playtime. You can also opt for going directly into the ocean when the conditions are good. On sunny days, you can even spot São Miguel island!
At Maia, on the southeastern point of Santa Maria island, you can find pools of salty water. The landscape of the bay made of dark volcanic rocks next to the pool, crystal clear waters and green cliffs covered with vineyards is typical of the island and was classified as a natural reserve.
Praia de São Lourenço
São Lourenço bay in the shape of a theater is one of the most beautiful places around Santa Maria. This natural reserve hosts so much biodiversity and is perfect for snorkeling. There is a pool and of course, the popular white sand beach. At the snack bar, you can get something to eat after a good swim.
Best beaches in Terceira island
Terceira, the ‘party island’ also has some pretty beaches to explore after a night out. Don’t miss out on the beautiful dark-sand beaches and lava-rock pools.
Piscinas Naturais dos Biscoitos
This complex of natural swimming pools is famous among locals and travelers. Nestled between basalt rock formations from lava spills, Biscoitos is undeniably one of the favorite spots to spend a day by the ocean on the island. There is all the comfort needed, a snack-bar right behind, and even a little market with local delicacies.
Piscinas Naturais de Porto Martins
This bathing area is a mix between a rocky beach, a sandy beach, and a natural pool. Great to fulfill everyone’s wishes. Equipped with a bar, changing rooms, and a parking lot, it is even accessible for people with reduced mobility.
Praia da Riviera
Located on the East coast of Terceira, in Praia da Vitória, Praia da Riviera is usually less crowded than the others, but certainly not for being less beautiful. On this still-wild beach, you can see migratory birds nesting, especially quails.
The ‘big beach’ (literally translated) in Praia da Vitória is actually the longest sand beach on the island, being more than 500 meters long. In the summer, it can get easily crowded due to its geographical position next to the city center. This beach, as well as most beaches in the Azores, is well-equipped with showers, a bar, and a parking lot.
Praínha (Angra do Heroísmo)
Near the center of the beautiful and historic Angra do Heroísmo, you can find a relaxing beach inside a quiet bay. Don’t forget to visit the colorful center of the city which is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
Zona Balnear da Silveira
Originally, it was a fishing harbor, but now it is one of the most beautiful bathing areas of Terceira. A pool with a view, that is Silveira, in Angra do Heroísmo. Indeed, while you swim in the clear Atlantic, you can enjoy the imponent and green Monte Brasil in the background.
Best beaches in Graciosa island
Graciosa is a tranquil island in the central group of the archipelago. It displays quiet beaches and a very famous natural pool with a spa, among other bathing areas.
Praia do Barro Vermelho
This is a unique beach in the Azores. When the tide is high, it is just a regular rocky beach, but at low tide, you can see the sand reveals itself, and it is actually red. Located on the north coast of the island, this volcanic beach is a popular place for locals in the summer.
Termas do Carapacho
Nested between dark basalt rocks on the southeast of Graciosa island, contrasting with the deep blue ocean, Carapacho is a natural pool you won’t regret experimenting. Swim in the open ocean or let your kids play in the enclosed pool. You can also opt for a day in the spa right next to the ocean offering a wide variety of treatments with miraculous waters.
The beach named Praia in Graciosa is about 200m long. It played an important role for the island over the centuries as a strategic embarking and disembarking point. It is a very popular place to be in the summertime and a great place for snorkeling.
Best beaches in Pico island
Spoiler alert, there is no beach on Pico. But! Pico is the island with the best natural pools in the whole archipelago. Grab your swimming suit and a towel and go explore many wonderful underwater landscapes between black lava rocks.
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This natural swimming pool also has a concrete pool. It is a quiet place located on the eastern tip of the island. Usually, not so many people choose to go there, so it is great to have the pool to yourself.
Piscina Natural da Barca
At this natural pool with concrete access, you can have a perfect view over the islets of Madalena and Faial island. The water can be so clear that you can spot many fishes. If you are lucky, in the channel between Pico and Faial you can even spot some dolphins from time to time. Don’t forget to go have a drink next door at the famous Cella Bar, recognized globally for its strange architecture.
Piscina Natural da Criação Velha
On the western part of Pico island, Criação Velha is a beautiful rocky natural pool with transparent waters. It is located right next to the world-famous vineyards, a typical landscape of Pico island not to be missed when on holidays on the island.
Furna de Santo António
Furna de Santo António on the north coast of Pico has two enclosed concrete pools filled with salty water, and you also have the possibility to swim in the open ocean. The whole family can enjoy this place which is also popular with divers.
Piscina do Cais
This is another natural pool near São Roque do Pico, north shore. It has easy access in concrete, changing rooms with all the facilities inside, and a snack bar. On a sunny day, you can have the greatest view over São Jorge, the dragon island.
Best beaches in Faial island
If you are on Pico island and miss a good sandy beach, then you can take a 15 minutes ferry and go to the neighboring island of Faial. There, you will find some really beautiful spots to relax in the sun.
Praia de Almoxarife
Now, this is a beach with a one-million-dollar view. Indeed, you can have the best view of the majestic Pico island, with Portugal’s highest mountain, all that while laying on the warm sand. About a kilometer away, at the viewpoint of Conceição, you can have a panoramic view over the beach and coast of the island. Many local families consider this beach as the best on the island, which is also a great spot for aquatic sports.
Nested between the colorful city of Horta and the majestic green Mount of Guia in a quiet bay, Porto Pim is a small volcanic beach of about 350m long. It is located inside a Protected area and right next to the city center. Due to its great location, it is quite popular among travelers and locals and there are little to no waves. It was right there that, in the 15th century, the first settlers arrived on the island.
Piscinas Naturais do Varadouro
The volcanic natural pools of Varadouro on the west coast of Faial island offer two swimming pools in concrete as well as an open sea area. From the pools, you will have a wonderful view over Castelo Branco.
Best beaches in São Jorge island
São Jorge, just like Pico, is more of a natural pool island. Almost every little town has its own pool. Let’s discover some of them.
Portinho – Fajã Grande
Located in Calheta, the ‘little harbor’ of Fajã Grande once was a fishing harbor, but now is completely turned towards leisure. You can swim in the Atlantic protected from the waves by the dark volcanic rocks around the pool.
Poça dos Frades
This is definitely one of the most popular bathing areas on the island, and also of the archipelago. The geological formation created by lava spills formed this unique pool with a view of Pico mountain.
Poça do Simão Dias
Otherworldly is what better described Poça do Simão Dias. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural pools you will ever see. The contrast of the huge dark basalt stone walls with the blue water creates this peculiar atmosphere only found there. Don’t forget a mask and snorkel to explore the unique underwater landscapes of this natural gem. Please note that this pool is not watched by lifeguards.
Best beaches in Flores island
Flores is such a wild island filled with untouched nature. While there is no sandy beach, you can find several pools and rocky beaches.
Porto da Fajã Grande
This rocky pool with concrete access is surrounded by wonderful scenery. While swimming in the wild Atlantic, you can look at the high coastal cliffs of Fajã Grande filled with the tallest waterfalls.
Piscina Natural de Santa Cruz das Flores
Right next to the main town of Flores island, you can find these very popular pools with a view of the nearest island: Corvo. It is one of the most crowded places on the island in the summertime.
Best beaches in Corvo island
Even on the smallest island of the archipelago, you can find a beautiful beach to extend your towel and get some sun rays. Welcome to Corvo!
This beach of rocks and sand is located next to the main town and the small airport of Corvo. This is the only beach with sand on the island. The clear waters are great for swimming and snorkeling.
Pro tips for going to the beach in the Azores
Here is everything to know in order to have a great time at one of the beaches or natural pools of the Azores islands.
Temperature of the water
The sea temperature in the Azores is always comfortable to swim, all year round. It goes from 17ºC from January to April, then it goes up to 24ºC in August and September, and down again for the end of the year.
Official rules for bathing areas
When you arrive at a supervised bathing area, there are flags to tell you the sea conditions.
- A red flag means you shouldn’t enter the water,
- A yellow flag means you can go in the water but stand in it and not go swimming,
- A green flag means it’s ok to go swimming,
- The red and yellow flag indicates the limits of the supervised area,
- A blue flag says that the beach has environmental quality,
- There are also some flags to indicate that a beach is accessible for people with reduced mobility and flags to indicate that the beach has a good general quality, according to national criteria,
- A chess flag means the lifeguard is not present at the moment,
- A black flag means the beach is closed due to the sea or sand conditions and it is prohibited to go,
- A white flag with a jellyfish is to say that there are jellyfish, or in the Azores, Portuguese man-o-war in the water.
Coastal wildlife in the Azores
In the Azores, our typical jellyfish are quite different than what most people are used to. The Portuguese Man-o-war is pink and blue, it floats, and the tentacles can extend up to 50 meters. They are so beautiful but very dangerous! They can look like plastic bottles or plastic bags, and even when dead on the beach, do not touch them!
We do also have some sharks, but they usually stay away from the coast and are generally harmless.
Take your snorkel and mask to see the colorful wildlife at the beaches and pools of our beautiful islands. You can see many fish, but also turtles, rays, octopuses, and much more.
Ferramentas e Aplicações Úteis
O tempo nos Açores é bastante imprevisível. Portanto, existe uma ferramenta muito útil que você deve usar antes de ir visitar qualquer lugar nas 9 ilhas: Spotazores. Graças a câmeras instaladas em vários pontos, você poderá ver as condições do tempo em tempo real antes de decidir para onde ir.
There are many beaches and pools to choose from. So choosing only a few best beaches in the Azores is quite hard. But we are sure that with this selection, you will find just what you need.