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São Miguel beaches: 12 beaches and natural pools you must see

Are you heading to São Miguel in the Azores for a relaxing vacation? Great idea! Surrounded by lush green nature you can find peace at the lovely São Miguel beaches.

In this Azores travel blog post we share a list of the most splendid beaches on São Miguel island.

São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores. Except for beautiful beaches, you will also find numerous natural hot springs and wellness facilities on the island. Everything for a zen vacation.

It is the perfect retreat to unwind and slow the time.

Sports enthusiasts will find the perfect playground on São Miguel. The beaches offer a variety of water sports. You can go sailing, surfing, SUPing, or parasailing, and deep-sea divers will discover a colorful underwater world.

The oceans around the Azores are home to several species of whales all year round, which makes São Miguel also a great place to go whale watching.

Read on to discover which beaches you shouldn’t miss while you are in São Miguel.

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Overview of the best São Miguel beaches, Azores

This is a quick overview of the best São Miguel beaches. Read on for a short description of each of these beaches.

The best São Miguel Azores beaches

Where Facilities Highlights
Praia De Santa Barbara São Miguel Azores Portugal Praia de Santa Barbara

Ribeira Grande

  • Lifeguards
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Surf school and surf facilities

A 1km long stretch of soft black sand,coming from lava rocks

Mosteiros Sao Miguel Azores Portugal Praia dos Mosteiros

Vila Franca do Campo

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Snack bars and nearby restaurants

The black sandy beach offers unparalleled views

Islet Vila Franca do Campo São Miguel_Azores_Portugal Islet of Vila Franca do Campo

Vila Franca do Campo

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards

The beach is located inside the crater, on the shore of an almost perfectly-circular natural lake, connected to the ocean by a small channel

Praia de Água d'Alto São Miguel Azores Portugal Praia de Agua D’Alto

Vila Franca do Campo

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Beach restaurant

The soft sand and the many on-site facilities

Praia do Fogo Ribeira Quente São Miguel Azores Portugal Praia do Fogo

Ribeira Quente

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant
  • Parasols for rent
  • Parking

An amazing sandy beach set in a bay of outstanding natural beauty

Rocks on Caloura beach on São Miguel in the Azores Caloura beach

Caloura village

None

Relatively unknown, a great beach to escape the crowds

Praia dos Moinhos, a popular beach on São Miguel in the Azores Praia dos Moinhos

Porto Formosa

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant

A sizeable sandy stretch with beautiful views and all the facilities that you may want to make it a relaxing day

Praia da Amora

Furnas

Small parking

A deserted beach which is only accessible by a short but rather intense trail

Praia do Populo, the best beach in Ponta Delgada Populo beach

Ponta Delgada

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant

One of the largest sandy areas on the island

Praia de Ribeira das Tainhas Praia de Ribeira das Tainhas

Villa Franca do Campo

  • Showers
  • Toilets (at the top)
  • Picnic area with grill (at the top)
  • Parking

Wonderful deserted beach near Villa Franca do Campo

Aerial view on Termas da Ferraria Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta Delgada

  • Natural swimming pool
  • Heated pool (for a fee)
  • Wellness center with spa treatments (for a fee)

The natural swimming pool heated by a nearby thermal spring

Piscinas do Pesqueiro in the heart of Ponta Delgada Piscinas do Pesqueiro

Ponta Delgada

  • Toilets
  • Showers (fresh or hot for a fee)
  • Lifeguards

Swim, splash, and sunbathe in a sheltered cove of the harbor

The most amazing beaches of São Miguel Island

There’s an abundance of nice sandy beaches with picture-perfect panormas on São Miguel.

Here’s a list to help you find the perfect place to spend a lazy day taking in the views.

Praia De Santa Barbara is one of the best beaches on São Miguel Azores
Praia de Santa Barbara is one of the larger and more well-known beaches on São Miguel (Credits: Photo by JCNazza)

Praia de Santa Barbara, Ribeira Grande

Praia de Santa Barbara is without any doubt one of the best beaches São Miguel Island.

It is a 1km long stretch of soft black sand, not too far from Ribeira Grande. This sand, coming from lava rocks, is what makes the beach so incredibly picturesque.

With a wide array of facilities, it is a prime, luxurious seaside spot on the island for both those that want to relax and sports enthusiasts. You will find a surf school and rental shops. If you get hungry from these activities you can grab a bit in the much-loved beach bar.

The access to the beach is free and the parking is also at a convenient distance.

Facilities:

  • Lifeguards
  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Surf school and surf facilities
Mosteiros beach on Sao Miguel Azores
The view from Praia dos Mosteiros

Praia dos Mosteiros, Mosteiros

Praia dos Mosteiros is one of the São Miguel beaches that you absolutely must-see.

It’s not as popular among tourists because it is located a little further out, at the westernmost tip of the island.

This is another pristine black sandy beach with unparalleled views. It impresses with a series of lava rock formations that fringe the shore and gave their name to the beach and the nearby town of Mosteiros.

Mosteiros means Monastery in Portuguese. It’s hard to see today but the large rock that stands in the ocean used to resemble a church back in the time.

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.

The beach is known for great rolling waves and popular among surfers.

There is a snack bar selling drinks and some small bites and a few minutes walk in town you have a choice of several restaurants that serve delicious fresh seafood.

If the parking lot right behind the beach is full you can use the much larger overflow parking a little further down the street.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Snack bars and nearby restaurants
Islet Vila Franca do Campo São Miguel_Azores_Portugal
Aerial view on this splendid remote beach near the coast of São Miguel

Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, Vila Franca do Campo

This Islet is the remains of an old volcano that submerged into the ocean after it erupted. It used to be a private family-owned island but since 1982 everybody is welcome to enjoy this small paradise.

As you can see from the above picture it is nothing like any other beach that you have visited before.

Thanks to its spectacular scenery the crater has been a stop in several editions of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Championship.

The beach is located inside the crater, on the shore of an almost perfectly-circular natural lake, connected to the ocean by a small channel.

The channel protects the lakes against big waves and makes this is a great location for snorkeling and families with smaller kids.

It is located just short of a kilometer from the coast of São Miguel and can only be reached by boat.

Buy your tickets well in advance as only a limited number of people are allowed on the island at a time.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
Praia de Água d'Alto on São Miguel Azores
Praia de Agua D’Alto

Praia de Agua D’Alto, Vila Franca do Campo

Praia de Agua D’Alto is one of the larger beaches on São Miguel. It is very popular in summer thanks to its soft sand and the many on-site facilities.

It is a popular vacation choice in São Miguel because of its dramatic cliffs that flank the soft sandy stretch, and the crystal clear ocean waters.

On the site, you will find sanitary installations and a restaurant/beach snack bar with an extensive menu. Next to the beach is a recently renovated waterfront resort. This is a great place to stay for watersports enthusiasts. It is within walking distance to the beach and the hotel can arrange all kinds of watersports such as diving, boating, and fishing trips.

The beach is close to Vila Franca do Campo and draws many citizens on clear sunny days.

It can be jam-packed during summer so those who arrive late may have trouble finding a parking spot.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Beach restaurant
Praia do Fogo Ribeira Quente São Miguel Azores Portugal
Praia do Fogo

Praia do Fogo, Ribeira Quente

Praia do Fogo is located near Ribeira Quente, it is a super-sandy beach set in a bay or outstanding natural beauty. The stretch of soft white sand is edged by tall tree-ringed mountains.

The beach is relatively small but perfect for those looking to spend a soothing day.

The nearby hydrothermal springs are another bonus which makes Praia do Fogo one of the best beaches on São Miguel. Thanks to these springs the ocean water at this beach is always a little warmer. It usually reaches 23 degrees Celsius in summer.

The official name is Praia Ribeira Quente but the nickname of the beach, which means Beach of Fire, is inspired by this phenomenon.

The beach is about a 10-minute drive from Furnas and lends itself for long swims or lazy days.

It’s best to arrive early. The beach is relatively small and many people prefer this beach because of the heated ocean water.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant
  • Parasols for rent
  • Parking
Rocks on Caloura beach on São Miguel in the Azores
Rocks on Caloura beach (Photo credits: Adam Singer)

Caloura beach, Caloura village

Caloura beach is relatively unknown and is a great beach to escape the crowds that you might encounter on sunny days at the larger and more popular beaches.

The beach is nestled along the coast close to the quaint fishing village of Caloura. To access it you need to descend a tall staircase carved into the dramatic cliffs that surround it.

Not many people come this far and often you may find yourself alone here, or with guests of the nearby Caloura hotel resort. The resort has a MARES diving school and can organize diving excursions.

Still in Caloura, about 5 minutes by car from the beach is the port where you will also find some natural swimming pools and a beach bar with a selection of salads and fish straight from the ocean.

Facilities:

  • None
Praia dos Moinhos, a popular beach on São Miguel in the Azores
Praia dos Moinhos (Photo credits: Diego Delso)

Praia dos Moinhos, Porto Formosa

This beach is one of the best located along the northern coast of the island.

It has a sizeable sandy stretch, beautiful views, and all the facilities that you may want to make it a relaxing day. The only thing this place is missing is parking.

On sunny days you may not be able to find a parking spot.

Lifeguards are on duty during the season. Pay attention when getting in the ocean. If you stay close to the shore the water is calm but as you get further out the surf is strong and underwater rocks can cause injuries. Therefor we advise you to stick to the designated swimming areas. Make sure to also keep an eye out for the venomous Portuguese man o’ wars, a large jellyfish.

The facilities are well-maintained and the beach bar is an excellent place for lunch.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant

Praia da Amora, Furnas

This is a lovely option for the adventurous among us. This beach is only accessible by a short but rather intense trail. Those who venture downhill usually have the entire beach to themselves.

Don’t start the descend on you flip-flops though, you will need some sturdy walking shoes as the path is not maintained, steep and with loose gravel.

The best part about this beach is that it is almost always completely deserted.

Bring some food and drinks and have a romantic picnic on what appears to be your private beach.

There is a small parking for about 5 cars where the trail to the beach starts. You can find this lovely beach after a 17 minute drive from Furnas.

Facilities:

  • Small parking
Praia do Populo, the best beach in Ponta Delgada
Praia do Populo

Populo Beach, Ponta Delgada

Populo Beach is located close to Ponta Delgada, only 100 meters from another beach, Praia das Milícias. The latter is also known as Praia Grande and together they form one of the largest sandy areas on the island.

This Ponta Delgada Beach has sand as smooth as silk and is great for families with smaller children. There are little to no currents in summer.

Being so close to the capital is draws large crowds in the summer months but there is plenty of parking so you don’t need to worry about that.

You won’t get hungry either, there are several bars and restaurants to choose from.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Lifeguards
  • Restaurant
Praia de Ribeira das Tainhas, one of the best beaches on São Miguel in the Azores
Praia de Ribeira das Tainhas (Photo credits: Tim Sackton)

Praia de Ribeira das Tainhas, Vila Franca do Campo

This is a small secluded beach not too far from Vila Franca do Campo.

It is only accessible by a long flight of stairs and therefore many people skip it. If you’re not afraid of a little effort you may find the beach deserted and all to yourself.

There is no lifeguard and the facilities are rather basic but the experience of having an (almost) private beach makes up for this.

The high cliffs protect the beach from the wind. Even on windy days you are able to enjoy this little hidden gem.

Facilities:

  • Showers
  • Toilets (at the top)
  • Picnic area with grill (at the top)
  • Parking
Aerial view on Termas da Ferraria
Ponta da Ferraria on a windy day

Ponta da Ferraria, Ponta Delgada

The Ponta da Ferraria is not a beach but a natural swimming pool heated by a nearby thermal spring. While it is not a beach it can be refreshing nevertheless. It is a great destination for a few hours of fun in the water.

Thanks to the hot springs the water is warmer than in the other natural pools that are located along the island’s rocky coast.

Azoreans will enjoy the pools from early on in the season but shivery types will probably prefer the heated pool of the nearby wellness complex.

While the natural swimming pool is free for everybody to use there is small fee of €6 for the heated pool.

It’s best to visit the pools at low tide. At high tide the cooler ocean water spills over the rocks and mingles with the warm water of the natural pool, cooling it down.

Facilities:

  • Natural swimming pool
  • Heated pool (for a fee)
  • Wellness center with spa treatments (for a fee)
Piscinas do Pesqueiro in the heart of Ponta Delgada
Piscinas do Pesqueiro in the heart of Ponta Delgada

Piscinas do Pesqueiro

Located right in the center of Ponta Delgada this place is a real crowd-pleaser on sunny days. You can swim, splash and sunbathe in a sheltered cove of the harbor. Kids love to play in the calm ocean waters while others love to sunbathe on the concrete floor.

Locals refer to it as the beach inside the city.

The location is very practical and is therefore popular all year round. The use of the ocean pools and the fresh water showers are free.

If you want to use the changing rooms or the hot water showers you need to pay a small fee.

Here you won’t find a soft sandy beach but the location right inside the city center makes it ideal for a few refreshing laps to start or end the day.

Facilities:

  • Toilets
  • Showers (fresh or hot for a fee)
  • Lifeguards

Conclusion

São Miguel is an amazing destination to spend your next holiday.

Besides fun activities such as hiking, whale watching, bathing in hot springs, and more, the island is also home to many wonderful beaches which are perfect to spend a relaxing day.

After reading this list you likely want to visit as many of them as possible.

Which one is your favorite?

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