SÃ£o LourenÃ§o Islet © Carlos Luis M C da Cruz
The island resort of Santa Maria, a fantastic holiday retreat, lies southwest of São Miguel Island and features an airport that was a World War II American Air Force base, now appropriated as a civil airport. The main town on the island is Vila do Porto. It only has one hotel but also several inns and private villas for rent.
There are a few sandy golden beaches on the island, including Praia Formosa, and the scenic Maia and São Lourenço Bays, offering rocky cliffs and attractive vineyards. Pretty villages like Anjos and Santo Espírito are steeped in local history and culture, and the island has many colourful festivals throughout the summertime.