The first contact with this volcanic archipelago was on the island of Santa Maria, the first to be sighted and populated. At 1493, looking for shelter, Christopher Columbus and his ships docked on this island, returning from America's first voyage of discovery. Being the most southerly island, this location offers unique characteristics, not only in its soil, but also in nature throughout the entire island. Due to its drier climate, there are two areas that are remarkably different, a flat and low-lying area, namely the center of Vila do Porto, and in opposition to areas of high hills full of vegetation, including Pico Alto, the highest mountain of the island.
The authentic and untouched geological formation suggests this is the oldest island in the archipelago (over 8 million years old), which explains the existence of marine fossils, unique in the Azores Archipelago, that can be easily seen in the Natural Monument of Pedreira do Campo, Figueiral and Prainha, making people wonder about the past.
Praia Formosa is considered by many to be the best beach in the Azores, as it´s the only one of in the archipelago of light sand, being a direct consequence of the geological formations. Maia and Anjos, on the contrary, have several natural swimming pools, another result of the volcanic activity.
The crystal-clear water brings the attention to everyone who sets eyes on it, including divers from all over the world as it´s considered one of the best places in Europe to dive and snorkel.
Its easily seen that Santa Maria is a perfect place for those who are looking for to relax at the beach kind of holiday.