Santa Maria - What to See & Do
The formation of this volcanic island has left it with many natural wonders for you to explore. Start at the Pico Alto mountain, the highest point on the island (590 metres above sea level), where you can enjoy panoramic views of the whole island. At Ribeira de Maloás, you will find a stunning waterfall of 20m in the river valley, formed when lava flowed into the sea. Bright coloured landscapes can be found at the ‘red desert’, at Barreiro da Faneca, terrains of red and orange hues, with a clayey nature. Proof that the island was submerged until only a few thousand years ago can be found at Pedreira do Campo, where the basalt flow is home to numerous fossils of marine organisms. You can also admire these at Dalberto Pombo Environmental Interpretation Centre, in Vila do Porto, the largest town on the island.
The expansive coasts of the island, also provide a variety of fun activities. Visit the white sandy beaches and rock pools, the most famous being Praia Formosa, known for its fine sand, clear water, and waves ideal for surfing. From the bays you can fish, scuba dive, and paraglide. There are also many natural caves, where you can discover grottos with stalactites and stalagmites, for example the Islet of Romeiro cave, with its natural inner pier, or Furna de Santana and the Gruta do Figueiral. If you’d like to see some living wildlife, and not just fossils, then the Formigas islets are a great place for bird watching and snorkelling.