Mosteiros Beach is one of the most picturesque black sand beaches on our list of the best things to do in the Azores that often gets overlooked. In fact, we almost skipped it ourselves!
Mosteiros Beach – The Best of the Azores Beaches
We were nearby at the Termas da Ferraria natural spa (the hot springs that are actually in the ocean), and on a whim we took a detour. We’re so glad we did!
This scenic black sand beach on Sao Miguel Azores is absolutely gorgeous. With an impressive series of lava rock formations just offshore and waves crashing in from the Atlantic. The waves crash on to jet black volcanic sand; it’s just naturally photogenic and totally worth a visit.
Here’s everything you need to know before going to Mosteiros Beach.
The Village of Mosteiros Azores is Not Touristy
The village of Mosteiros itself is tiny with a population of just over 1,000 people. In comparison, Ponta Delgada – the largest city on the island of Sao Miguel – has a population of around 70,000 people. So that gives you an idea of just how undeveloped Mosteiros is.
While the locals are used to seeing tourists, Mosteiros Azores definitely isn’t touristy, so don’t expect to find a McDonalds. We were there in peak season and there were literally two cars on the road! If you’re a die-hard McDonals fan though don’t worry, there’s one in Ponta Delgada.
My husband thinks that the lack of fast food restaurants is a sign of how untouched by tourists the Azores are. I.e. go now before everyone catches on!
Getting to Mosteiros Azores
Mosteiros is a 45-minute drive from Ponta Delgada Azores, located on the far western side of Sao Miguel on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
The drive is easy enough, and we highly recommend renting your own car. The buses around the island are not that frequent and are supposedly unreliable. Fortunately, parking close to the beach is easy and free, provided you’re happy to park on a (sometimes rather steep) side road.
Driving Sao Miguel Island
We rented a car in the Azores; the drives were easy. Even though a lot of the driving is on winding mountain roads, they are well laid out and not overcrowded. Sao Miguel is filled with quaint little towns to discover, so having your own transportation means you can explore it all at your own pace.
If there’s any advice we can give you for exploring the Azores, it’s to take your time and be flexible and spontaneous. The weather may not always play along, and there are so many lesser-known spots to uncover along the way.
Relaxing on Mosteiros Beach
The underrated gem of the island is Mosteiros Beach, a black sand beach with small picturesque islets dotting the horizon. And the best part? There are almost no crowds!
Mosteiros means ‘monastery’ in Portuguese. The name comes from one of the larger rock formations visible from the beach that supposedly looks like a church. It didn’t look especially like one to me, but I could see why someone would be humbled by the fantastic natural view.
In terms of facilities, there are toilets, showers, and changing rooms. A couple of small vendors selling snacks, ice creams, and refreshments (including beer!) can be found near the beach. Also, nearby parking is free.
Ponta Delgada Vs. Sao Miguel Azores
Ponta Delgada Azores is the biggest city on the island of Sao Miguel Azores, the biggest and most commonly visited island in the Azores archipelago. Luckily for some reason, it’s not yet overrun with tourists.
People often incorrectly refer to the island as Ponta Delgada (the biggest city), rather than calling it Sao Miguel island. No one seems to mind, so you can usually get by using both.
Be Aware of the Weather on Azores Beaches
Mosteiros is our favorite of the Ponta Delgada beaches. Yes, officially, we should say that Mosteiros is our favorite of the Sao Miguel beaches, but once again, lots of people refer to the whole island as Ponta Delgada, so same difference.
If we’re honest with you, the Azores beaches aren’t always ideal for a lounge and soak up the sun beach holiday. The weather often doesn’t play along. The water is pretty cold for swimming (this tends to happen in the Atlantic) and the afternoons can often be cloudy. In fact, outside of the summer, it probably isn’t hot enough to lay out and suntan on the beach.
If you’re a beach bum seeking your next dose of Vitamin D, it’s crucial to plan your trip at the right time of the year. For more tips and average temperatures, check out our full blog post on the Azores weather.
When to Visit Azores Beaches
The peak summer months from June to September are the best for beachside lounging. However, keep in mind that it often becomes overcast and cool, even in the summer.
If you are lucky enough to experience a full sunny day in the Azores, make sure you enjoy it! Luckily, there are all sorts of other attractions to keep you busy on the days when the weather doesn’t play along – from hot springs to waterfall hikes.
Tips for Visiting Mosteiros Beach
- Visit the beach at sunset and catch an incredible view of the sun as it dips between the twin rock formations.
- Pack aqua shoes as the black sands can get rather hot, and the sharp rocks can be painful to climb across.
- The village doesn’t have much in the way of facilities, but there are some local restaurants for a seafood lunch, and the “hangout” coffee shop is worth a visit (even if only to watch the locals play a game of dominoes over a cup of java).
With dramatic clifftops, pitch black sand, and offshore islets, Mosteiros is one of the most extraordinary beaches the Azores has to offer. When you’re in Sao Miguel, definitely take the time to visit this quaint village with its secluded beach. You won’t be disappointed!
Read Next: Top 10 Things to do in the Azores