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Picturesque Santa Maria is the most south easterly island in the Azores where larger pelagic species are commonly encountered, most notably the devil rays at Baixa do Ambrósio where snorkellers are also welcome.

The ‘Sun Island’ of Santa Maria is warmer, flatter and drier than the others in the Azores archipelago. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your certification level. The majority of the local dive sites are protected by the marine park and sea mounts rise from the deep to just below the surface, making sites accessible for both snorkellers and divers.

Explore the volcanic topography amongst a plethora of marine life from nudibranch to colourful wrasse, shoals of pelagic fish and crustaceans seeking shelter in the caves. Devil rays are annual visitors to Baixa do Ambrósio and more experienced divers can head out to the natural reserve of Formigas and Dollabarat, known as one of the best diving spots in Europe.

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to the Azores

    You will be met on arrival in Santa Maria and transferred to Hotel Santa Maria for a seven night stay. 

  2. Days 2-6 : Dive Santa Maria

    Your pre-booked dive package begins today. It includes 10 local boat dives over the next five days.

    Enjoy exploring the volcanic topography of the local dive sites around the island. Expect to encounter dusky grouper, colourful wrasse, sponges, black corals, nudibranch, crustaceans, schools of amberjack and other pelagics. The majority of dive sites are in a marine reserve where the marine life is plentiful.

    Diving highlights from Santa Maria include the devil ray aggregation at Baixa do Ambrósio and the islets of in the nature reserve of Formigas and Dollabarat for more experienced divers. Trips to these sites are made regularly from Jun-Oct but are subject to weather conditions and minimum numbers. As such, they are booked locally for a supplement.

  3. Day 7: Day at leisure

    Today is free to relax or enjoy an excursion at your own leisure.
  4. Day 8: Fly to Lisbon

    In the afternoon, transfer back to the airport for your flight to Lisbon where you will need to spend the night due to current flight schedules.

  5. Day 9: Return to the UK

    Transfer back to the airport for your flight back to the UK.

You should note: Snorkelling at Baixa do Ambrósio and diving at Formigas and Dollabarat are subject to weather conditions, minimum numbers and local supplements.

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 9 days from £1,245 pp
  • When to go: Jun-Oct: Sunday (recommended)
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Return flights from the UK
    • 8 nights accommodation
    • Breakfast daily (excl. Lisbon)
    • 5 days, 10 dive pack
    • Tanks and weights
    • Transfers (Santa Maria only)
Featured location:

Santa Maria

The 'Sun Island' is warmer, flatter and drier than the others in the archipelago. It offers local dive sites to suit all levels, as well as blue water diving with devil rays at Baixa do Ambrósio and plenty of pelagic encounters in the natural reserve of Formigas and Dollabarat.

  • Ideal for viewing: sickle-fin devil ray, dusky grouper, yellowmouth barracuda, common dolphin, loggerhead turtle
  • Excellent for: Resort based diving, Manta ray
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Hotel Santa Maria

This small and quiet property on the island of Santa Maria makes a great base to enjoy the diving on the ‘Sun island’. Pelagic species are frequent and you can expect to see several species of shark.