Santa Maria is the closest island to São Miguel, which is the biggest island of the archipelago. They are only about 80km away, which corresponds to 3 hours by boat and about 15 minutes by plane. Note that the boat only works during the summertime, but planes fly all year long. The two islands form the Oriental group of the Azores.
Santa Maria is the southernmost and easternmost island of all. Due to its geographic position, the climate is quite different. Also called the Yellow island, Santa Maria is the most tropical island, offering sunnier weather all the year.
The island is about 16km horizontally and 9km vertically. The highest point of the island is Pico Alto, at 587m above sea level.
The islanders cultivate plants that allow dyeing textiles, the most famous one is Isatis Tinctoria, releasing a strong blue color when used to dye. Another source of wealth is wheat, which has always been a significant part of our alimentation. Also, the extraction of clay was very important for the local economy. It was used for dishes and tiles. The 18th and 19th centuries were marked by the wine, wheat, corn, fruits, potatoes and yams economy, along with livestock and dairy products. About whaling, it arrived in Santa Maria in 1896.
For a long time, and still today, many handicrafts are made in Santa Maria Island. From pottery to linen towels and shirts or woolen sweaters, the local artisans are helped by the Handicraft Cooperation of Santa Maria. Nowadays, services are a strong source of wealth in Santa Maria, followed by agriculture and fishing.