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GETTING TO SANTA MARIA
SATA AIR AÇORES has daily flights to Santa Maria departing from the airport of Ponta Delgada, and also connecting the island with the others of the archipelago.
Between May and October, a ferry-boat links Săo Miguel and Santa Maria in about 3 hours.

LOCALISATION
The island is situated at 28ş 08’ W and 37ş 43’ N, and belongs to the Eastern Group of the Azorean Archipelago along with Săo Miguel. It is the most southern island, 102 km (55 miles) distant from Săo Miguel Island, and also the nearest of the Portuguese mainland. Its area is of approximately 97, 5 sq km (37, 6 sq miles); its largest length is of 18 km (9, 7 miles) and its width of 10 km (5, 4 miles).

DISCOVERY AND SETTLEMENT
Although not being completely certain, the island is appointed as the first to be discovered between the years of 1427 and 1432. Its settlement began in the North Coast, namely Praia de Lobos, nearby Anjos, the village-place where Cristovăo Colombo anchored in his return from the first journey to America

TRANSPORTS
To visit the island, one can choose between rent a car, use a taxi, or the bus, which links almost all village-places in the island.

PLACES TO VISIT
Pico Alto, of approximately 590m of altitude, is the highest point in the island, so it offers a magnificent view over the whole island.


S. Lourenço is a resort with a beach and natural swimming pools; it is located in the basis of a wonderful hillside, where vines are grown to make the famous wine of S. Lourenço.

Maia is a small village-place, between the cliff and the sea, with a beautiful natural swimming pool.

Farol da Maia, an excellent terrace over the landscape, offers the attractiveness of a lighthouse.

Praia Formosa is a white sand beach, with tepid sea waters, a truly invitation for a bath.

Anjos, a seashore village-place, has a small fishing port and a natural pool. There stands the chapel where Cristovăo Colombo attended mass in its returning trip from America.

Forte de Săo Brás is a fortress dating back from de XVI century. The chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo is also worthy of a visit.

Museu Etnográfico, an ethnographic museum, keeps excellent pieces of the local handicraft.

GETTING TO KNOW THE ISLAND

Itinerary 1
Departing from Vila do Porto, go through Pedras de S. Pedro, S. Pedro, Paul and take the road to Anjos. There, a pleasant seaside resort, a small fishing port and a historically significant chapel wait for your visit. Get back through the road to Pedras de S. Pedro, than to S. Pedro, Ribeira do Engenho, Lagoínhas, Feteira and Santa Bárbara. In your back to Vila do Porto, follow the road to Almagreira, Carreira and Pedras de Săo Pedro.

Itinerary 2
Leave Vila do Porto through the road to Valverde, Almagreira and Brejo. Stop at the viewpoint and enjoy the landscape. Go down to Praia Formosa, a seaside resort of extensive sands and clear waters. Get back by the same road, follow through Almagreira to Pico Alto, the highest place in the island, where you cam admire the all island and even sight S. Miguel Island in clear days. Go down; pass through Loural, Santo Espírito, Calheta, Ponta do Castelo (lighthouse) and go down to Maia, another seaside resort. Return from the same road to Calhetas; admire the view in the belvedere overlooking S. Lourenço’s bay and Romeiro islet, and then go down to S. Lourenço. Return to Vila do Porto passing through Almagreira and Valverde.

ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
"Maré de Agosto" (August tide), a very popular festival of the island, includes several cultural activities; concerts of well known bands performed in Praia Formosa attract numberless visitors to the island, especially youths.
Festivals of folklore, the vintage festivities and rally of Santa Maria also cheer up the island.

TRADITIONAL FESTIVITIES / ETHNOGRAPHY
The main festival of the island takes place in Vila do Porto on August 15, in honour of the patron saint Nossa Senhora da Assunçăo. The Holy Spirit festivities take place from April to June and are very traditional. Besides its religious meaning with the crowning of the emperor and the traditional parade, its secular aspect is also of much interest. The traditional soups of the Holy Spirit, unique in the archipelago, are cooked on fire in big iron pots set on the streets. Everyone can freely eat at the same table and prove this delicious soup.
Based on the natural resources, clay and wood, the handicraft consists mainly of pottery and weaving: jerseys, patchwork quilts and linen of rare beauty.
The folklore, first influenced by popular music of the mainland provinces Beiras and Alentejo, changed due to the specific conditions of the island and gained a own shape. There are several good folklore groups that have been doing successful researches and are able to reproduce rigorously music, dances and clothing from ancient times.
A visit to the Ethnographic Museum is also recommended.

MONUMENTS
There are a great number of churches and other monuments such as manor-houses, small forts and historic landmarks dominated by the Baroque and Manueline styles. Outstands:

Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunçăo in Vila do Porto, dating back from the XV century and rebuilt in the XVI century.

S. Brás Fortress built in the XVI century during the Spanish domination. It has inside the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo and an obelisk in honour to Comandante Carvalho Araújo.

Anjos Chapel is probably the most ancient chapel of the archipelago. It is the place where Cristovăo Colombo ordered the celebration of a mass while he was returning from the first trip to America.

Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Fátima dates back from 1925 and was the first to be built after the chapel of visions in Cova de Iria. To visit the chapel, one must walk up 150 steps, the beads exact number of a rosary.

Chapel of Reconhecimento de Santa Maria Madalena was built in 1594 by father Corvelo Resende with the purpose to shelter the Ordem de Santa Clara, a religious order. The first mass was celebrated there in the year 1600.

There are several other monuments in the island, including the churches of S. Pedro, Santo Espírito and Almagreira, as well as the ruins of S. Joăo Batista Fortress.

GASTRONOMY
Some of the specialties in the island are: Império soups, turnip soup, cake in the pot, “caçoula”, liver sauce, fish soup and stew. The seafood is also very tasty; “cavaco”, lobster, limpets and barnacles.
In the sweet menu, here are some suggestions: cinnamon biscuits, “biscoitos de orelha”, white biscuits, brandy biscuits and “cavacas”. The wine produced in the hillside of S. Lourenço is famous in the whole region; “vinho abafado”, “vinho abafadinho”, brandy, and liqueurs of blackberry and milk are excellent digestives.

SPORT FISHING AND SEATOURS
The whole coastline of Santa Maria Island is very rich in fish species: seabream, porgy, grouper, wrasse and mackerel can be captured with floater or bottom fishing. Using a live-bait, one can possibly capture bluefish, barracuda and sawfish. There are exccelent fishing-grounds in the area. One can also enjoy an open sea tour , with the possibility of open sea fishing available in several specialised companies, and capture species like bluefish, barracuda, sawfish, tunasifh, swordfish, Atlantic blue marlin, seabream, blackspot and wreckfish. In São Lourenço bay, the visitor has at disposal sea equipment to the practise of several sea sports.

DIVING
The sea of Santa Maria Island is a real paradise for underwater fishing. The fish is abundant and diversified; one can capture species like largehead hairtail, bluefish and barracuda. You should get information at maritime authorities about the necessary conditions to practise this activity.
The abundant and diversified water life offers splendid diving spots, unforgettable moments. The islets of Vila, Lagoínhas and Săo Lourenço are places of awesome beauty, as well as the Cave of Encharéus and the Tagarete bay. Formigas islets are unique places of underwater fauna richness. The Naval Club of Santa Maria can give you the necessary information and support to practise this activity

PARAGLIDING
The conditions in Santa Maria are excellent for apprenticeship or practice of this sport. Praia Formosa, Săo Lourenço, Anjos and Maia are privileged places for the modality. Baptism flights are also available in two-seater wings.
Ask for details in the Youth Association of Santa Maria Island.

SEASIDE RESORTS
Praia Formosa and S. Lourenço, beaches of white sand, Maia and Anjos (natural swimming pools) are the most excellent places for a pleasant sea bath.

HIKING
Due to the fact that the island relief is smooth, hiking is an excellent choice. Specialised guides give all the information required in detail.

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