Sometimes you just need a vacation in a warm place, soaking up vitamin D from the sun, lying on the beach, not caring about anything in the world and completely relaxing. A vacation like that sounds dreamy to us, and we know it is to you too! In this article, we are going to introduce you to the best and most popular beaches on Azores Islands. Let's get started, shall we?
The Azores are an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The landscape of the archipelago is full of incredible nature, best described as rugged, rough and full of surprises. Before we take a look at the best beaches Azores Islands has to offer, let's start with a little bit of Azores Islands history. If you want to skip right ahead and take a look at our guide to what each Azores Island has to offer.
A short history of the Azores Islands
European navigators first discovered the islands in the 14th century and saw no sign of anyone living there. Portuguese explorers took over one island after another in the 15th century, starting with Santa Maria. Their good fortune with plenty of fresh water and fertile soil, perfect for growing sugar cane and wheat, soon made islands like São Miguel, Faial, Pico and Terceira well-populated and successful communities.
Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel is now the capital of the Azores Islands. However, this was not always the case. In the early 1500s, Vila Franca do Campo on the island of São Miguel was the capital because it was a successful way station on the trade routes between Africa, the East and West Indies and Europe. In 1522, Vila Franca was hit by a major earthquake and landslide that destroyed much of the city and killed 5000 people. Thus, Ponta Delgada became the capital.
Beaches in São Miguel
Santa Barbara Beach
Santa Barbara beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Azores Islands and also one of the largest. It never feels crowded. It has golden sand and the wind blows in a favourable direction, so it's a great place for water sports enthusiasts. The beach has showers and toilets. In front of the beach, there are restaurants and bars where you can have lunch, dinner or even a party and listen to live music in the evening.
Água de Alto Beach
Let's go to a much less touristy area. The small village of Água d'Alto has a tiny white sand beach that is like paradise. The clear waters and dramatic cliffs in the background make Água d'Alto beach one of the most beautiful beaches in the Azores. There is a nice restaurant near the beach and good hotels nearby if you want to stay close to the beach. It is convenient if you travel with your children with you.
Vila Franca Beach
On an islet, a kilometre off the coast of the town of Vila Franca do Campo is a very special little beach, called Vila Franca Beach, which is a protected Nature Reserve. It is situated on the inner rim of an old, sunken volcanic crater. The lake inside the crater is connected to the sea through a small opening. The water is breathtaking and the marine life there is very rare, lively and colourful. Therefore, it is ideal for snorkelling.
You have to reach the islet by a small boat from the marina Vila Franca and you buy your tickets online or at the pier.
Note: Vila Franca beach has no facilities like showers, toilets, restaurants or bars.
Vila Franca is definitely the most spectacular beach on Azores Islands and a must for any visitor.
Silveira Beach – Terceira
A beach very popular with the locals is Silveira Beach. It is a man-made beach just outside the town of Angra do Heroismo. Although it's man-made, it is in harmony with nature and the land that surrounds Silveira Beach. White concrete makes the descent to the sea gentle and effortless, unlike the rocks that can be found all over the area. It is amazing to see how colourful the water is. Upon the coast, the colour of the sea is ocean blue, Ombres in turquoise and sea green. Further out, where the ocean is very deep, the colour of the water is inky blue.
Formosa Beach – Santa Maria
One of the best beaches on Santa Maria Island is Formosa Beach. It has golden white sand with calm and crystal clear waters. Because of the warmer climate at Santa Maria, the water is also warmer and perfect for swimming. The beach can also be admired from above, from the Miradouro da Macela, to catch a unique and magical view. Formosa Beach hosts an annual festival. The Maré de Agosto festival lasts for four days in August and combines the discovery of the natural beauty of the area with music and parties on the beach, walks and other activities.
The name of the beach translates as "beautiful beach" and it really lives up to its name.
Caldeira do Santo Cristo Beach – São Jorge
To get to Caldeira do Santo Cristo Beach you have to hike one of the most beautiful trails in the Azores, filled with hydrangeas and other beautiful flowers, marshes, streams and waterfalls. You have to work hard to get there, but it is so worth it.
Once you get to the beach, you can reward yourself with a swim in the blue ocean after your walk. For those who want to surf, there are great facilities for it.
The place is a Nature Reserve because of the fajãs in the area. Fajãs are rare plains formed by lava flows.
The village where the beach is located has no electricity and the locals speak no or poor English. So if you feel like an adventure (without the help of locals), you should go to Caldeira do Santo Cristo Beach.
Don't worry, if you are not able to hike to the beach, you can get there by boat or even view it from above. The scenery is idyllic and something not to be missed.
Beaches of Faial
Porto Pim Beach
Porto Pim Beach is located in Horta, near the centre and the port. It is a white sandy beach with black volcanic cliffs all around. Swim with the abundance of fish in the beautiful pale blue sea, as the beach is located in an old fishing village. Porto Pim Beach offers a lifeguard area and great facilities such as toilets and showers. There are also restaurants, cafes and bars.
Along with Almoxarife, Porto Pim is one of the most popular beaches on Faial with its beautiful waters in a Natural Revers, perfect for relaxing.
Overall it is a rather small beach, but it is a great place to snorkel and bring the kids.
Also located in Horta, you will find Almoxarife Beach with grey volcanic sand and offers spectacular direct views of Mt. Pico, at Pico Island, across the water. It is usually less crowded than Porto Pim Beach, there is easy access to the sea with a natural pool surrounded by lava rocks. You can experience a unique relaxation in a volcanic environment here. There is a campsite and restaurants near the beach for you to enjoy.
A small, quiet and peaceful beach with calm and clear waters makes Almoxarife beach a great choice for everyone!