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Santa Maria Island

If you have ever dreamed of encountering a whale shark, Santa Maria Island is the place in Portugal where your dreams may come true, with a lot of sun and clear water too. The most southern island of Azores is also one of the smallest and warmest of the archipelago. Like men, islands can’t be measured by their size, and Santa Maria’s secrets are mainly underwater. Around the island there are many caves and tunnels, underwater rock arches always with the presence of the typical Azores species such as groupers, hog-fishes, thalassomas, moray eels, pig fishes and many others. But it is in the blue that Santa Maria will make your diving unforgettable. There are dozens of mountain tops, the “baixas”, where you will get what you paid for. The pelagic are always around: amber-jacks, lilies, barracudas, sardines, tunas, several species of sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles, sting rays, manta rays…just to name a few! If you already want to visit Santa Maria Island, the best diving season is from June to September. The cherry on top of the cake is definitely the Formigas Natural Reserve and Dollabarat, just 20 miles north-east off the island. This Marine Park was created in 1988 and is considered by diving specialists as the best in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the best in the world. Famous for the pelagic species and the big fish schools, here you can also see Black Coral at the lowest depths in Azores. Usually black coral can be found deeper than 25 meters, but in Formigas you can find it as low as 12 meters, surrounded by macro life like shrimps and various juvenile fishes. In 1921 a Greek cargo ship named Olympia rested forever in the water and is visited regularly, also the canyons are very impressive and under some stone blocks you see red sponges filled with anemones of different colours. In Santa Maria Island you can recover from your intense diving in the only golden and soft sand beach of the Azores or walk to huge waterfalls. Only 4 hours from anywhere in Europe, Santa Maria is a bargain. If you would have to pay for every manta ray you see here, you would have to be a very rich person. Thank you, Santa Maria, for everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read our extended article here.

More about Santa Maria Island.

How to get to Santa Maria Island.

Where to dive in Santa Maria Island.

Where to stay in Santa Maria Island.

Where to eat in Santa Maria Island.

 

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