Santa Maria is surrounded by warm white sand beaches and beautiful terraced vineyards. This island is a perfect escape for those looking for calm, sunshine, and relaxation. Because of Santa Maria’s southern location, it is the warmest of all the Azores islands. Surfers come here to enjoy its warm waters and point breaks. Divers come for sites of manta rays and large fish at the spectacular deep dive locations, Baixa do Ambrósio and Formigas Islets.
Area: 97 km2
Population: 5,552 inhabitants
Highlights: Formosa Beach; Baía de São Lourenço; Baía dos Anjos; Barreiro da Faneca; Ribeira de Maloás; Pedreira do Campo; Poço da Pedreira;
A delicious turnip stew is made here. This stew is made from local turnips that are small and dark in colors, pork, farmhouse bacon, chouriço (Portuguese sausage), and sweet potatoes. The stew’s broth is poured onto a dish of sliced bread, and the rest of the ingredients are served on a separate tray. A traditional Azorean custard called, Tigeladas, are often served in restaurants. However, Cavacas (light crispy cakes), meringues, honey-cakes, and cinnamon pastries are more typical. You will also find Biscoitos de Orelha (ear biscuits), which get their name due to their shape.
As for handmade sausages, the highlight is the tasty Alheira of Santa Maria. Rockmelons are grown on the island and have achieved gourmet status over time. Traditional beverages, like the aguardente and fruit liquors, have also grown in popularity.