Sparkling blue water, golden sand, green fields, whitewashed houses, red soil, and a sunny climate is just a little of what you can find on the southernmost and easternmost island of the archipelago of the Azores: Santa Maria.
If this island is on your wish list for your next family vacation, this article may be useful to you.
To make the most of the vacations with your children, we give you five suggestions of activities to do, as a family, on Santa Maria island.
1- Take a walk around the island’s capital, Vila do Porto, and admire the buildings’ architecture in the historic center that dates to this island’s settlement’s foundation in the 15th century.
Add a magic touch to this tour by visiting the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of Conception), where the mysterious events narrated in a legend about French corsairs and a brave vicar took place.
You will also find the Dalberto Pombo Environmental Interpretation Center in Vila do Porto.It is a must-visit place where you can get to know, dynamically and interactively, the geological wealth that you find during your walks around the island. In one of the wings of the Center, the House of Fossils, you can take a 3D trip back in time through the island’s geological formation.
Here you will also find an interactive game that allows you to put yourself in a paleontologist’s shoes for a few minutes. Certainly, this will be an excellent opportunity for your children to learn about geology.
2- With attention and curiosity already aroused for everything you will find on the island, you will appreciate even more one of the most peculiar places in the archipelago of the Azores: Barreiro da Faneca. Known as the “Red Desert”, this Protected Landscape area is home to 830 hectares of red, semidesert soil surrounded by vegetation. If you are one of those people who combine a strong imagination with an uncontrollable desire to play, you can take advantage of this peculiar place to create stories and tell them to your children.
3- Spend an afternoon or morning at the Fontinhas Forest Park, where you will find a playground and exceptional facilities for a barbecue or picnic with children, surrounded by a peaceful environment and lush forest. If you have the opportunity, bring along for the picnic delicious cantaloupes from Santa Maria and the traditional Orelha Cookies made in the Santo Espírito Cooperative (which you can also visit and see how they are made).
4- Children will love visiting the Aveiro Waterfall in Lugar da Maia, which, at about 100 meters high, is one of the largest in Portugal. A pond has formed at the waterfall’s base, where families of ducks live and provide the place with an even more pleasant touch for adults and children.
5- Visit Aldeia dos Anjos. Right at the village’s entrance, you can see a statue of the Italian discoverer Christopher Columbus, who is said to have had a mass celebrated in the Chapel of Our Lady of Anjos, the oldest in the Azores, after his return from America.
Take the opportunity to cool off in the Anjos pools, and, if you like, you can dine on excellent seafood here. At the day’s end, build wonderful memories by enjoying, as a family, the beautiful Sunset at Baía dos Anjos.
We wish you an excellent family trip!
Photos by Getty and Azores Promotion Board.