Activities in Santa Maria
The formation of this volcanic island has left many natural wonders to explore. Santa Maria is a popular destination for hikers and birdwatchers, with numerous trails through the countryside and rare bird species inhabiting the forests and coastal areas.
Pico Alto is the highest point on the island, at nearly 600 meters above sea level, and from there you have a fantastic panoramic view of the entire island. In Ribeira de Maloás you will find an impressive 20 m high waterfall in the river valley, which was created when lava flowed into the sea. Brightly colored landscapes can be found in the "red desert" at Barreiro da Faneca, a terrain with red and orange tones and a clayey texture. Evidence that the island was under water until a few thousand years ago can be found at Pedreira do Campo, where the basalt stream houses numerous fossils of marine organisms. These can also be admired at the Dalberto Pombo Environmental Interpretation Center in Vila do Porto, the largest city on the island.
Meanwhile, the island's expansive coastline also offers a variety of recreational activities. Be sure to visit the white sand beaches and rocky pools, the most famous of which is Praia Formosa, known for its fine sand, clear waters and waves suitable for surfing. For fishing, scuba diving and paragliding you can visit the coves. There are also many natural caves where you can discover grottos with stalactites and stalagmites, such as the Ilhéu do Romeiro cave with its natural inner pier, or the Furna de Santana and the Gruta do Figueiral. If you want to see not only fossils but also some living animals, the Formigas Islands are a great place for bird watching and snorkeling.