Sunday, January 18, 2009

Portugal Vacations: Santa Maria Azores

Santa Maria Azores

Last week I told you about the Portuguese Island of Flores, a gorgeous island in the Azores Archipelago, and a must see on your next Portugal Vacation.

This week I will end off the exploratory journey through the Azores with Santa Maria. Strangely, Santa Maria, is probably the most famous of all the Islands of the Azores, because Christopher Columbus short stop-over during his return trip from maiden voyage to the Americas.

Discovered in 1427 by another Portuguese explorer, Diogo Silves, Santa Maria is the southernmost island in the Azores. It's closest neighbor is Sao Miguel, approximately 30 minutes by plane to the north. There are approximately 5500 residents on the island, who are connected to the other islands via a small island airport. The people on the island make their living, much like residents from the other islands, through fishing and agriculture. Unlike the islands from the northern and Central regions of the Azores which were settled by Northern Continental Portuguese, Santa Maria was inhabited by Portuguese people primarily from the Alentejo and Algarve in Southern Portugal. The older homes in Santa Maria tend to look like houses from Alentejo rather than from Northern Portugal.

The oldest island in the Azores, Santa Maria is also the third smallest, with only approximately 97 km² in area. It is possibly the most distinct from all other islands in the Azores archipelago due to large deposits of sediments that make it's beaches the lightest in color. Santa Maria has everything that anyone looking for a perfect beach experience without the stampede of tourists on your Portugal Vacation.

Santa Maria Azores, is the very best island to visit for those who enjoy wonderful beaches and sun. Santa Maria is the perfect place to visit on your next Portugal Vacation.

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