A popular European destination for outdoor experiences and fantastic seaside landscapes, the Azores are home to some impressive beaches making it an ideal summer destination. On the islands, you will find shores for all tastes, from soft, sandy coasts, to rugged, rocky seaside areas. In this article, we want to offer you a list of the most stunning beaches in the Azores for you to choose the perfect vacation getaway for this summer.
The Azores archipelago is comprised of nine stunning Portuguese Islands located off the coast of the Iberia Peninsula, in the Atlantic. Quite overlooked and often underrated, these fantastic islands are known for their bizarre landscapes and unique volcanic beaches with one-of-a-kind traits, hard to find in any other European destination.
Most of these shores are made of black or dark grey sand and even rough stones and pebbles, which are a direct consequence of the erosion of the lava basalt, the main element that forms the soil of this Portuguese archipelago.
This unique characteristic produces a magnificent contrast with the crystalline azure waters and the pristine skies that are typical of the Azores, something Portugal is known and famous for.
Whilst many travellers may flock to Lisbon’s beaches, to Madeira for its beaches, or consider the beaches in Lagos and the Algarve as some of the most beautiful, it is also possible to find some white sand beaches, some of which are located on the island of Santa Maria, often hidden in small bays that appear surrounded by dark, rugged cliffs.
For travellers into water sports, they will be glad to read that most of the beaches on the island offer the ideal practice ground for surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing since the islands are not protected by important masses of land, like the Greek islands in the Mediterranean.
Another popular sport in the Azores is scuba diving since most of the islands share a fantastic submarine landscape rich in fish and plant species with stunning colours and unique beauty.
If the Azores is your next destination, or you’re still looking for the best beaches to visit this summer, bookmark this article including some of the top beaches in the Azores.
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Where Is The Azores & How To Get There
Before you dip your toes in the waters of the Azores, you may first want to plan how to get there.
The archipelago is situated North Atlantic Ocean in the Macaronesia region and roughly 1400km west of Portugal’s capital Lisbon.
Thankfully, getting to the Azores needn’t be a nightmare. Airlines such as Portugal’s national carrier TAP, low-cost carrier RyanAir, and SATA (Azore Airlines) offer direct flights from mainland Portugal to various Azorean islands.
Travellers from the US can also expect to find non-stop flights from New York and Boston too making it a great stopping point en route to mainland Portugal.
Best Beaches In São Miguel Azores
Praia de Santa Bárbara (São Miguel Island)
Often described as one of the best beaches in the Azores, this is one of the most famous shores you can visit in the archipelago. The area is an attractive destination for those who enjoy surfing as well as other extreme water sports. One of the main characteristics of this beach is that it features very thin and soft volcanic sand.
This beach is also known for hosting dozens of summer festivals and live music concerts every summer, attracting many young visitors.
Vila Franca do Campo (São Miguel Island) – São Miguel Azores Beaches
How about swimming in a submerged crater? I bet nobody ever proposed to you embark on such an adventure!
This experience is possible at Vila Franca do Campo Beach, one of the best-known snorkelling and diving spots in the Azores Islands thanks to the impressively rich submarine life, the variety of fish, and other sea creatures including crabs, barracudas, and stunning starfish.
To get to the crater you can get there by boat, in fact, there are several day trips and excursions that allow visitors to spend either half or a full day on the spot.
Praia dos Mosteiros (São Miguel island)
Often listed among the most famous beaches in São Miguel, this is a very popular beach that’s often overcrowded, therefore arriving early in the day will guarantee you find the right spot to place your beach towel.
The beach is surrounded by a stunning natural landscape offering excellent vistas and unique photo opportunities, the area is particularly gorgeous at sunset when many people arrive just to soak in the magnetic views.
Água de Alto (São Miguel island)
Also on Sao Miguel island, this time on the southern shores, the beach known as Praia da Agua de Alto, and the consecutive shore Praia da Pedreira, are two secluded beaches with soft sand and crystal blue seas.
Despite its terrific beauty, both shores are quite isolated, so it is easy to find fewer crowds and plenty of private areas to enjoy and relax.
Organization in the area is minimal, so it is a good idea to pack all the necessary items for a day at the beach, including some snacks, fresh fruit, and enough cold drinks. As usual do not forget to pack enough sunscreen, sunglasses, and your snorkelling equipment as well.
Praia da Caloura (São Miguel island)
One more beach on the south coast of São Miguel island, Caloura is the small beach of a tiny fishing village. The place is not crowded and it is a great destination for a day excursion.
On the beach, visitors can enjoy the same tranquil vibe that they will find in the village. Over here, it is always better to go swimming at the beautiful quiet pool rather than in the ocean which can be wavy and affected by sudden dangerous tides.
Praia da Ribeira Quente (São Miguel island)
One more stunning shore on São Miguel, this beach is famous for featuring several underwater thermal springs that keep the temperature of the waters at a constant and pleasant temperature… a perfect solution for those who are not used to swimming in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
As its name suggests, Ribeira Quente means Hot Shore, and you will certainly fall in love with the area. And if you like to spend time on unique, wild beaches, but also enjoy the perks and comfort of an organized beach, including toilets, showers, places to eat, and parking areas, then this is the right place in the Azores for an unforgettable day by the sea.
Best Beaches in Flores Azores
Praia da Fajã Grande (Flores island)
Popular both among the locals and the many visitors that come to Flores every summer, this beach is to be found hidden among volcanic rocks and surrounded by a spectacular natural environment, much appreciated by fans of hiking trails and trekking.
In the area, popular activities include surfing, due to the right wind conditions, and scuba diving. This beach has been awarded the title of Praia Qualidade de Ouro thanks to its incredibly clean waters.
Best Beaches in São Jorge Azores
Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo (São Jorge island)
Usually listed among the best beaches of the Azores the island features a geographic formation that is typical of the Azores, the fajãs. These are small coastal plains that have been shaped by the slipping of lava. Over 40 of these odd formations can be easily found on São Jorge, a fact that has earned the island the name “the island of the Fajãs”.
Caldeira de Santo Cristo is arguably the most beautiful of these beaches, besides, it is located in a natural reserve as it features an impressive variety of local flora and fauna.
Although accessing this beach is not as simple as one might wish, the beautiful landscape is well worth the fatigue and time needed to reach the area.
Best Beaches in Santa Maria Azores
Praia Formosa (Santa Maria Island) – Beaches in Azores
This unique beach in Santa Maria is often described as the most beautiful beach in the archipelago. It is an unusual white sand beach with calm, crystal clear waters. However, the most impressive trait of this beach is the colour contrast that the white sand and the foam of the sea make against the nearby volcanic black sand beaches that characterize the area.
To better observe the colourful details of the beach, it is a good idea to climb up the area known as Miradouro da Macela for better views of the surrounding landscape.
Baía de São Lourenço (Santa Maria island) – Azores Beaches
Another wonderful beach in Santa Maria is situated on the island’s northeastern coast. The shore has a typical semi-circular shape while terraced vineyards populate the backdrop of the beach.
This special shape makes the bay ideal to skip on strong winds, making it also an area with natural shelter for the rains. These characteristics make the shallow bay an ideal place for families with kids as well as for those who do not feel very confident about their swimming skills. The tranquil bay is among the best beaches on the Azores.
Not far from the main beach, on the southern part of the same bay, the small and picturesque Romeiro islet is another gorgeous destination in the area. You can visit the islet by boat. On this small stretch of land, there is a unique cave that is home to the Azores Noctules, the only endemic mammal of the archipelago.
Best Beaches in Pico Azores
Canto da Areia (Pico Island)
This tiny beach is the only shore you can visit on Pico island overlooking the nearby, bigger São Jorge island.
Although the bay is small and offers no organized structures nor water sports or other activities, the place is a fantastic setting for sightseeing, especially when the sun starts setting on the horizon.
Best Beaches in Graciosa Azores
Praia de São Mateus (Graciosa island)
The only sandy beach on São Mateus, this gorgeous shore features pristine waters and a few organized structures by the sea making it a great choice for you to spend the whole day sunbathing. The clear qualities of the sea make it a popular place among divers, perfect also for snorkelling and swimming.
If you have some extra time when visiting this beach, devote a few minutes to visiting the small village of the same name, with traditional romantic alleys, and small colourful houses.
Praia do Barro Vermelho (Graciosa island)
Also on the island of Graciosa, Praia do Barro Vermelho is, according to its name, a fantastic red sand beach (the only one of this kind in the Azores).
The small but magical shore features several natural pools as well as a few man-made concrete walkways that people use to gain access to the ocean. On the beach, there is also an area for picnics, umbrellas, and loungers to rent, and a welcoming beach bar serving refreshing drinks and snacks.
Best Beaches in Terceira Azores
Praia dos Biscoitos (Terceira island)
If you like natural pools, bizarre landscapes, and close contact with nature, then you will certainly love Praia dos Biscoitos, which is home to some of the most beautiful natural pools in Europe.
The pools, which are the result of ancient volcanic eruptions, have been shaped by unique rock formations, however, since they are quite well protected from the waves and tides, they are calm and relaxing, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and spending a tranquil time.
The region is famous for the production of very characteristic wines since the vineyard thrives on the rich volcanic soil of the area. Not far from the beach, there is also an interesting wine museum, the Museu do Vinho de Biscoitos, where you won’t only be able to learn about the local wine production, but where there are also wine tasting sessions available for visitors.
Best Beaches in Corvo Azores
Portinho da Areia (Corvo island)
Corvo is a remote island of the archipelago where there are just a few shores and plenty of areas devoted to snorkelling and scuba diving. In fact, the waters surrounding the island are populated with stunning and abundant flora and fauna, making it a great destination to explore the indigenous seabed.
On Corvo island, there is only one sandy beach Portinho da Areia, which is Portuguese and it translates exactly as “small port made of sand”. The shore can be found on the extreme southwestern corner of the island.
Corvo is a paradise for birdwatchers as it has been classified as an Important Bird Area on the Azores and many of the local species can be easily spotted on the beach.
There you go, some of the most amazing beaches in the Azores archipelago, are you planning to visit them soon?