Santa Maria

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Santa Maria is the most southern island of the Azores and also the one where a beach vacation is best. There are several beaches with white sand on Santa Maria, plus good opportunities for diving and snorkeling, and surfing in the fall and winter. The island is rural in large parts, with landscapes of green fields and isolated romantic farms inviting for cycling tours. Nature lovers enjoy several protected areas on the island, including the so-called Red Desert and some sections along the coasts.