When people think of European beach vacations, the Azores isn’t usually the first to spring to mind but this Portuguese archipelago of nine volcanic islands is a seaside destination you don’t want to miss.
The Azores is often described as ‘the secret islands’ because they are not hugely well known. My first time to the Azores, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew very little about the region and was completely blown away by how beautiful The Azores islands were.
Over 1400km away from Lisbon, The Azores are located off the coast of Portugal in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. I was shocked that my flight from The Azores to Boston (USA) was just over 5 hours.
These 9 islands are at home in a unique location that blends the best of Europe and the Caribbean into these stunning islands. With dramatic landscapes, quaint fishing villages and green pastures, the Azores is a diverse destination.
One of the best parts of the Azores is definitely the beaches.
With nine islands, it can be easy to miss the best that the Azores has to offer without good research, a mistake I made on my first trip. This post is here to help you find the most beautiful Azores beaches.
The Azores offer a wide variety of beaches from natural to man-made, busy to remote locations and volcanic to golden sands. The beaches showcase the incredible beauty and power of Mother Nature and whatever you’re looking for in a beach, there will be one for you within Azores.
23 Most Beautiful Azores Beaches
Praia de Santa Barbara, Sao Miguel Island
The dark sands of Praia do Areal de Santa Barbara make up one of the regions most extensive beaches. The sea offers warm waters and high waves so if you’re a fan of water sports, this beach is one of the best for surfing and body boarding. If you’re not a surfer, the beach has relatively low crowds making it easy to find a spot to relax in the sun.
Surfer’s paradise can be found at Praia de Santa Barbara with incredible waves and a vibrant surf scene. This beach is internationally known for world-class waves and avid surfers flock to Sao Miguel Island to experience the surf. Equipment can be hired from one of several rental shacks so everyone can get involved and the chilled, surf vibe makes the beach a great place to relax.
Praia de Fogo, Sao Miguel Island
Also known as Ribeira Quente, Praia de Fogo is a super-sandy beach located 7km from the Furnas village. Set in a bay that is outstandingly beautiful, Praia de Fogo has gorgeous scenery with a mountain backdrop and phenomenal sea views.
The main attraction of Praia de Fogo is the temperature of the water that is created by underwater hydrothermal springs making it always warm enough to enjoy a swim.
Praia dos Mosteiros, Sao Miguel Island
This volcanic beach is famous in the Azores for its lava-dark sands, natural pools and rocky, volcanic formations on the coastline. Praia dos Mosteiros is one of the least touristy beaches in the Azores and is a calm place to unwind.
This Azores beach is also a popular place for sunset watching with the day disappearing behind the imposing volcanic rocks in the sea.
Praia do Almoxarife, Faial Island
Regarded as one of the best beaches in the Azores, Praia do Almoxarife is one of the few beaches on Faial Island that offers both lifeguards and facilities. This beach is a great one for families who can be assured that there are services nearby and lifeguards keeping watch. The beach is also a great viewpoint with three of the other Azores islands within sight off the shore, Pico particularly in a great viewing spot.
Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, Sao Miguel Island
Located off the shores of Sao Miguel Island, Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is a small paradise that is a great day trip for visitors to Azores. The islet is a classified nature reserve with a stunning natural lake at the centre of the crater. Whilst the beach is small, the waters are crystal clear and calm, the perfect place for swimming.
Praia de Agua d’Alto, Sao Miguel Island
Praia de Agua d’Alto is one of the busiest beaches in the Azores during the summer months but for a great reason. The beach has great facilities, a boardwalk of delicious restaurants and a wealth of activities including boating, fishing and water sports. This beach is a great one if you enjoy an active vacation!
Praia Formosa, Santa Maria Island
Praia Formosa is undoubtedly the best beach on Santa Maria Island. Whilst many of the Azores beaches are volcanic, the sands of Praia Formosa form a golden strip and it is one of the most beautiful beaches across the islands. This beach has a charming atmosphere and is relatively quiet, a great place to escape the crowds.
Praia da Viola, Sao Miguel Island
Praia da Viola is a great beach for hikers to head to as it is only accessible by a hiking trail. The hike is rewarded by the arrival at a secluded beach in a volcanic rock bay with an imposing cliff backdrop. The beach is small but tranquil with the waters often calm enough to enjoy a swim.
Praia do Porto Pim, Faial Island
Praia do Porto Pim is the beach where the first residents of Faial Island settled and because of this historical significance, the beach is in its natural state. Located not far from the Old Town of Horta, the beach is the most popular on Faial Island but retains a charming European atmosphere. This small beach is set within a beautiful bay and has great scenery.
Praia do Canto da Areia, Pico Island
Praia do Canto de Areia is one of the few beaches on Pico Island and offers great scenery with Sao Jorge Island in view off the shore. This beach is a great place to head if you want to take a boat out to sea, watch the fishermen at work or enjoy some delicious seafood in a nearby restaurant. Pico has a great gastronomic scene with the seafood caught from this beach highly rated.
Praia da Riviera, Terceira Island
Both the cleanest and wildest beach in the Azores, Praia da Riviera offers the best swimming waters across the islands. Many beaches in the Azores have a Blue Flag but after a water analysis, it was found that the waters lapping the shore of Praia de Riviera have virtually zero pollution! This beach is also surrounded by various bird colonies, a great place to watch the local wildlife.
Faja da Caldeira de Santo Cristo, Sao Jorge Island
This beach is the one for nature lovers! Not only is Faja da Caldeira de Santo Cristo a classified nature reserve, it is also surrounded by a stunning landscape with the lush, lava mountains in the background. This beach is in a remote location with access only via boat or a hike but is worthwhile journey for scenery admirers.
Faja Grande, Flores Island
Flores is one of the two most remote islands of the Azores and home to some beautiful secluded beaches. Faja Grande is a favourite amongst Flores locals as well as hikers who enjoy navigating the volcanic rocks in search of the beautiful beach. The waters off the coast of Faja Grande are some of the clearest in the Azores and the beach is great place to enjoy snorkelling or begin a scuba dive.
Praia de Sao Mateus, Graciosa Island
As Praia de Sao Mateus is the only sandy beach on Graciosa Island, it is often referred to across Graciosa simply as ‘praia’. Surrounded by a traditional and charming village, the beach has great water conditions and excellent facilities on the beachfront. The clear waters are also great for exploring and the underwater world is full of life for divers to discover.
Praia do Barro Vermelho, Graciosa Island
Graciosa Island is home to the only red sand beach within the Azores and whilst the sand strip is incredibly small, it is unique. This beach is one of the main bathing areas on Graciosa Island made up of natural pools with concrete walkways to access to ocean. Here you will find great facilities to enjoy a day by the ocean including a picnic area and a local bar to grab a refreshing drink in the hot sun. Close by there is also a charming black and white striped lighthouse.
Portinho da Areia, Corvo Island
The only sandy beach on the remote Corvo Island, Portinho da Areia is on the extreme west of the southern coast of the island. Like Flores and Graciosa, the waters surrounding Corvo are home to an abundance of sea life making Portinho da Areia a great place to head if you’re looking to snorkel. The area surrounding Corvo is also a classified Important Bird Area and bird lovers can often witness some stunning species in flight over the beach.
Praia dos Biscoitos, Terceira Island
Praia dos Biscoitos is a beach with a difference as this natural beach has very minimal sand. Known as the best beach to swim on Terceira Island, the natural swimming pools sit between lava-formed rocks with the waves crashing against the rocks in the background. When the tides are low, it is still great to visit and explore the rock pools and see if you can find any sea life.
Sao Lourenco Bay, Santa Maria Island
Sao Lourenco Bay is one of the most iconic landscapes in Azores with the horseshoe bay that looks like half of a volcanic crater. The bay is classified as a nature reserve, home to the Azores native nyctalus azoreum bat and several protected marine birds. The beach is also lined with vineyards that grow within the basalt walls of the cliffs.
Cais da Silveira , Terceira Island
This man-made beach on Terceira Island has a concrete dock with ample space for sunbeds and offers ladders for easy access into the sea. The turquoise waters within the bay are clear and calm, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The beach is very popular with locals and great for travellers who want to mingle with the local crowds for a taste of traditional life.
Praia da Baixa d’Areia, Sao Miguel Island
Located in the picturesque fishing village of Caloura, Praia da Baixa d’Areia is home to deep, natural pools and surrounded by lush greenery. The beach is a beautiful location with outstanding landscapes and a perfect example of nature’s finest creations. The beach is isolated and tucked between ravines making it a great location to avoid any crowds on the popular beaches.
Praia das Milicias, Sao Miguel Island
Also known as Praia Grande, this beach is the largest and most popular on Sao Miguel Island. The beach is close to holiday resorts making it a firm favourite with tourists as it is easily accessible from local hotels. It is a great beach for families to visit due to great facilities, lifeguards on duty and shallow waters to splash in.
Lombo Gordo, Sao Miguel Island
The wild beach of Lombo Gordo is rugged and handsome with calm tides between the breakwaters. Due to its remote location on the island and poor accessibility, it is very quiet and is a great beach to head to if you’re looking for a beach with few people.
Getting there is both an adventure and a challenge but the views and the calming environment are worth it. Best to visit in the morning or early afternoon as the beach falls into shadow later in the day.
Praia dos Moinhos, Sao Miguel Island
Once upon a time, this beach was the best kept secret on Sao Miguel Island and whilst it is now more popular following a renovation, it is still a fantastic place to enjoy a beach day. The waves are wilder around this section of the island and swimming isn’t recommend due to strong under currents along the coast. However, the beach is a fantastic location to sunbathe, offers great views and there are some fabulous restaurants along the beachfront.