The Azores is an autonomous, remote archipelago in Portugal.
Famously known as the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic, the place is fringed with beaches abound.
Azores beaches offer everything from picturesque scenes to sailing and canyoning.
Across its landscape are also several volcanic craters pegging the lush green grounds.
Together the sea and volcanoes create a scenic view, a haven for all nature lovers and photographers.
Surrounded by gorgeous panoramas, the Azores beaches make the perfect retreat to unwind and slow the time.
A world away from the world, it is perfect for the intrepid as well, thanks to an array of water sports.
Here you can go deep-sea diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, paragliding, or simply watch whales.
Despite being a non-tropical destination, there are 40 beaches in Azores. I guess you didn’t possibly think there were so many!
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The most amazing beaches in the Azores
To help you choose the best beaches or Praia to spend a coastal vacation, this Azores travel blog has curated a top 10 of the best beaches in the Azores.
Praia de Santa Barbara, Ribeira Grande, São Miguel
One of the best beaches in the Azores is Praia de Santa Barbara located on São Miguel Island.
Read also: The complete guide to the Azores islands.
Stretching for about 1km, the beach is a prime, luxurious seaside spot on the island.
Here, you will find sports like surfing and bodyboarding.
But its unique feature is the volcanic black sand that covers the entire sandy strip of the beach.
Soft under the feet and eye-popping on the camera, the sand is what makes the beach even more popular.
Visit the beach on a warm day to enjoy all sports and a long stroll on the powdery stretch.
The access to the beach is free and the parking is also at a convenient distance.
The best part about São Miguel is that is beauty goes beyond the beach. There are hot springs, boilers, volcano craters, lakes, scenic drives and what not!
Praia Porto Pim Horta, Faial
Cupped in a sheltered bay and sea-screened by a volcano, the Praia Porto Pim is directly accessible from the city center of Horta.
The unique natural setting makes it one of the sought-after beaches in the Azores and the most popular beach on Faial Island.
You can stroll or tan on its soft, golden sand that gets its color from caldera’s tufa stone.
The bay beach also has historical significance. This was where the first residents of the island settled.
Other than that, the Horta city also boasts a bustling Old Town. Dotted with pastel houses, it exudes quintessential European charm.
Tracing the streets along these houses are cobblestones, adding a quaint character to the town.
Drive to a little north of Horta and you will reach a pastoral landscape boasting a 360-degree of verdant views. On the farther edge, you will see the cliff-flanked sea adding the stunning seaside appeal to the region.
Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo, São Jorge
Fajã da Caldeira is a nature reserve wedged between watchful hills and the blue Atlantic sea.
It’s one of the more iconic beaches in the Azores and it serves as a hotspot for surfing and bodyboarding.
Clams and shells are also found on its sand strip – a delight for gourmets and collectors, respectively.
Another highlight of the place is its lagoon. Locked by wetlands and rocks, this lagoon offers a safe and picturesque place to spend the afternoon. It’s also a great place for bird watching.
Here you will find more amazing things to do in Azores.
As beautiful as the destination is, the journey is equally mesmerizing. While there is a road, there are several hiking trails too that will take you to the stunning beach.
One of the best hikes is PR01 SJO. It starts at the Serra do Topo and takes you all the way down to the fajã. Immersed in nature, the zigzagging trail includes some intense slopes that may prove difficult. But the vistas with waterfalls make it all worth it.
If you love hiking, check out our Azores hiking guide full with information about the best Azores hiking trails.
Praia dos Mosteiros, Mosteiros, São Miguel
If you are looking for a non-touristy place in the Azores, Mosteiros is the idyllic beach vacation destination for you.
Its untouched, unspoiled beauty is the major highlight of both the town of Mosteiros and its beach.
Praia dos Mosteiros is another one of Azores’ black sandy beaches.
It impresses with a series of lava rock formations that fringe the shore.
You will see the waves crashing on these rocks, creating a serene environment perfect to unwind.
In fact, it is the rocks that earned the beach and city its moniker. Mosteiros means Monastery in Portuguese. The name was inspired by the quirky church-like silhouette of the rocks. However, with time, the image has distorted. It is hard to see a church in the current outline of the rocks.
Being a relatively non-touristy region, it does only offer limited facilities such as lavatories and showers. There is no snack bar at the beach but a short walk into town takes you to several restaurants that serve local delicious fresh food.
If the parking lot right behind the beach is full you can use the much larger overflow parking a little further down the street.
Though a hidden gem, Praia dos Mosteiros is one of the best beaches in São Miguel.
Praia do Almoxarife, Horta, Faial
Boasting a long stretch of black sand, Praia do Almoxarife is one of the most popular beaches on Faial Island.
Enclosing the beach is lush greenery, a washing facility, a campsite, a restaurant, and amenity-packed infrastructure.
The parking is also conveniently close-by and it is easy to find a spot for your ride, even on busy days.
Yet, since it is a part of a rural parish that is located 5km away from the city of Horta, the beach offers a tranquil environment. Another highlight of this beach is the unobstructed view of Mount Pico.
Its clear turquoise water makes it a blissful spot for families looking to lay back and relax in a land isolated from the boisterous world.
Watch out for the black sand during winter, when it completely disappears beneath the sea.
The phenomenon makes the beach simply magical.
The history of the beach is also intriguing.
It was initially a beachhead for explorers and colonists before becoming a buzzing tourist spot.
Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, São Miguel
Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is a small paradise that serves as a bolthole to tourists who want to get away from the noisy world. Located approximately 1km off the shore, it is nothing like any other beach in Azores’ São Miguel island.
The islet was made when an ancient volcano submerged into the sea, leaving just its crater lingering above the sapphire water.
This dramatic natural disaster shaped the surreal beauty of this little heaven, which makes it another one of the best beaches in São Miguel.
The crater islet is so spectacular that nine editions of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Championship were held at this location.
Its fame is mostly attributed to the abundance of endemic vegetation, the perfectly-circular natural lake, and a narrow channel that leads to the sea.
Today, thousands of vacationers seek the islet for its soft channel-regulated waves that allow you to swim and dive.
Praia de Agua D’alto, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel
Located in a tranquil bay area, Praia de Agua D’alto is a peaceful beach to lay down, take a stroll, or go for a swim.
Being the most popular one of the various beaches in the Ponta Delgada region, it is replete with good infrastructure.
On the site, you will find sanitary installations, a restaurant, a beach snack bar, and even an upscale waterfront resort.
At the resort, guests can indulge in some fun activities like fishing and hiking.
The beach has motorboats and allows various water sports such as diving.
It is also because of the fame that the beach gets jam-packed during summer. This can mean parking problems for those who arrive somewhat later during the day.
What makes it a popular vacation choice in São Miguel is its dramatic cliffs that flank the golden stretch, the clear waters, and the iconic volcanic sand.
Praia do Canto da Areia, Pico
Pico Island only counts a handful of beaches, Canto da Areia is one of the most picturesque. The sandy strip here runs for 50 meters along the swishing sea.
The beach boasts a blissful setting and offers incredible views of São Jorge.
Several boats are available on the island, waiting to take you to the sea for fishing. You can fetch exotic fishes here, unique in looks, and massive in sizes.
Though a small island, Pico has a rich gastronomic scene. You can try the delicious local dishes at the restaurant spotted on the beach.
Wine connoisseurs and avid readers should try the local wine celebrated in the famous Tolstoy book, War and Peace.
A sweet-water shower is also available at the beach.
The island waters also inhabit whales, sperm whales, dolphins, and many other astonishing marine animals. You can take a ride to watch them swim, play, and eat in their natural habitat.
Hiking lovers can follow the PRC09 PIC nature trail to the powdery Cando da Areia.
Those looking for more extreme sports would love to climb the 2,351m Pico Mountain, it’s not an easy climb but the trekking trail to the summit is well-marked.
Don’t forget to register at the mountain house first.
Pico island absolutely deserves a place on your Azores itinerary.
Praia Formosa, Santa Maria
Praia Formosa is probably the best beach on Santa Maria island.
With its white, golden sand, it is a rare sight in the Azores where black volcanic sand dominates the beaches. Wrapped in rolling, lush green hills, the beach offers a tranquil backdrop.
Located in the south of Santa Maria Island, it offers a place for holidaymakers to relax. The sea fringing the beach has shallow, clear water where you can go surfing.
The beach is also host to the annual festival of Maré de Agosto that fills the environs with world music.
Being a venue to fests, the beach is equipped with support infrastructure including showers, a beach bar, surveillance security, and a restaurant.
Among the many distinct features of this beach is that it is a host to the ruins of the São João Baptista, a 16th-century fort also known as the Botafogo or Spitfire.
Walk to the east of the beach and you reach a campsite, where you may stay overnight to admire the starry sky.
Praia do Fogo, São Miguel
Praia do Fogo or Ribeira Quente is a super-sandy beach located 7km from the Furnas village.
Edged by tall tree-ringed mountains, the sea at Praia do Fogo flaunts emerald color.
The soft beach has a peaceful setting perfect for those looking to spend a soothing day.
Another highlight of this beach is its lukewarm water. The comforting temperature is a result of the hydrothermal vents that are found underwater.
The name of the beach, Praia do Fogo, is inspired by this phenomenon that keeps the seawater tepid.
If you are looking for a beach to go for long swims, leisurely diving, or just get tanned, look no further than Praia do Fogo.
Being popular, it ensures all important facilities for its visitors such as restaurants, parasols, nearby parking area, and convenient stairways.
Azores beaches are nothing short of the tropical paradises that one will find in popular beach vacation destinations.
With its black volcanic sand, Nature Reserves, rolling hills, crater lagoons, and lakes, Azores creates a mesmerizing landscape.
While it is a relatively less-known group of islands with incredible islands, it lacks no facilities.
There are showers, restaurants, bars, resorts, and Airbnb rooms.
Spectacular scenery and a divine farm-to-food scene make the most tempting concoction here.
One of the famous local dishes that you could give a try is Cozida das Furnas, a stew that is cooked underground using volcanic heat.
All islands are compact, which means you can travel a couple of them in just a single visit by taking a layover between Europe and North America.
For more information on how to get to the Azores, click here.
The islands are equipped with public transport, but it is best to hire a car.
Here you can find more info on renting a car in the Azores.
Note that if you want to make most of its good weather, visit the archipelago during the months between May to October.
Among these months, the tourist season is at its peak during July-August.
Skip them to sidestep crowded beaches.