Azores Adventures – Futurismo

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Santa Maria island

This golden island sprawls out under the sun, with crystal-clear waters and soft white sugar beaches that add a serene aura to the picturesque setting.

With a rich heritage and myriad attractions, if you are looking for peace, privacy and adventure, this is the perfect place to enjoy a laid-back time.

About Santa Maria island

Santa Maria is also called the Yellow island, or island of the sun thanks to its geographic position and climate. With only about 5.600 inhabitants in a total area of 97km2, it is the third smallest island of the archipelago. It is not too far away from the biggest island: Sao Miguel. That allows you to be able to visit two islands is a short time. 

As the island is small it is possible to visit most of it in a few days. If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the sun, lying down on white sand beaches, this is definitely the place you want to go. Santa Maria is mostly characterised by the green of its mountains, the yellow of its beaches and the blue of the ocean as far as the eye can see.

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Geography

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.

Economy

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.

History

Santa Maria was the first island of the Azores to be discovered by Portuguese explorers between 1427 and 1431. It was in 1439 that they began to populate the island with people from Algarve and Alentejo. Vila do Porto was the first ever place to be recognized as a village in the archipelago.

In 1493, on his way back to the great discovery of America, Christopher Columbus stopped by Santa Maria. Then, in the next two centuries, many loots took place, by English, French and Arab corsairs. In 1616, Santa Maria will be occupied by the Moorish for a week. They would come back in 1675 and take locals as prisoners to then sell them as slaves.

The 20th century brought the construction of the airport. Santa Maria would be then considered a major strategic point by the United States for World War II.

Nature & Geology

Each island of the archipelago is special. Santa Maria has incredible landscapes, including white sand beaches and a red desert! Santa Maria is the oldest island, in terms of geology. Indeed, it elevated from the sea about 6 million years ago. It is the only island with sedimentary rocks where you can see the different levels of the sea as well as diverse marine fossils like whale bones, shells, algae or shark teeth. Those are exposed at the Environmental Interpretation center of Dalberto Pombo.

It is the warmest and driest island of the Azores, with lower rainfall levels.  There is then greater aridity of the land and the vegetation is yellowish. For that reason, it is also called the island of the sun. The beaches here are very famous, with crystal clear waters and located in heavenly bays. One of them, Baía de São Lourenço, was classified as Nature Reserve in 1987.

WHY VISIT SANTA MARIA ISLAND

  • Historical and cultural heritage

    The typical houses of popular architecture in Santa Maria are very different from the other islands.

  • Unique White Sand Beaches

    This is the only island of the Azores with white sand. A real tropical atmosphere.

  • Heavenly natural pools

    You can find a variety of pools around the island to enjoy the warm temperatures.

  • Tours Santa Maria island in Azores

    Top Sights in Santa Maria island

    Things you must see in Santa Maria island

    Reviews What people think about

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