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The richness and beauty of the sites of Santa Maria
If you are planning to go to the Azores and more particularly to the island of Santa Maria, it is a great idea! While being the sunniest island of the archipelago, it is also the one that presents, between 0 and 20 meters deep, the most variety in terms of marine landscapes and an incredible diversity and abundance in terms of fauna and flora. The island also benefits from the exceptional Ambrosio, site of the Mobulas rays, at only 30 minutes by boat from the marina.
You will come across a mixture of Mediterranean and tropical fishes, rays breams, sarpas, sea chubs, damfish, blennies, pompanos, needlefish, bogues, several varieties of groupers, amberjacks, barracudas, parrotfish, peacock wrasse, blacktail comber, scorpionfish, stingrays, moray eels.
You may also have the chance to see turtles, yellow fin tunas, bonitos, dolphins and whales on the way to Dollabarat & Formigas.
As for the flora, it displays colors ranging from yellow to green, passing through blues, mauves and fushias.
Departures are from the marina, on board of a comfortable RIB or from the shore.
Among our sites
A Marine Reserve, Pedrinha is only allowed to one boat at a time. It is a beautiful site with a lot of fishes, composed of a large plateau with craters at a depth of 12m and big rocks, one of which goes up to 6m under the surface. Rather adapted to experienced freedivers, a passage located between 13 and 17m deep will be a playful opportunity to discover the site.
Located on the east coast of the island where we go when the wind blows from the west or south, it is a remarkable site with a multicolored flora and many juvenile fauna. The site is perfectly suited for snorkeling around and inside its large open-air cave. Experienced freedivers can observe hundreds of shrimps racing over the walls of the cave at a depth of 17m.
Perfectly adapted to snorkeling, Rachada is also a paradise for freedivers. In addition to being a site rich in marine life, it features arches, tunnels, and superb basalt columns rising to more than 15m high. The maximum depth is 18m and the excursion ends in a small open-air cave where black and red-orange crabs race around.
Ilheu da Vila
Only 10 minutes by boat from the marina, the Marine Reserve of the islet of Vila is a site with several facets. Indeed, according to the direction of the wind and the waves, we go to the east, to the west or to the south. Suitable for snorkeling except on its southern side, which requires going between 12 and 15m deep, the site presents several drop-offs and small arches and tunnels only a few meters below the surface.
Every year, from June to October, dozens of Mobula tarapacana rays gather around the sea mount “Baixa do Ambrosio”. With a wingspan of 2.5 to 3.5 meters, they are mostly close to the surface, offering freedivers and snorkelers an unforgettable ocean experience.
Also called “devil rays”, these animals are harmless and feed mainly on plankton and small fishes.
The Ambrosio Marine Reserve, only a few nautical miles from the coast, is accessible to only one boat at a time. This makes it a unique place in the world where you can interact respectfully with this species.
Note: A 20€ extra is charged for Ambrosio. The departures depend on good marine forecast, so do plan on spending several days in Santa Maria if this destination is part of your wish list.
Going on an excursion to Dollabarat & Formigas is to live an intense oceanic adventure. Indeed, we have strong chances to meet dolphins, whales, turtles, swordfishes and other pelagics that populate the Azores’ Big Blue. Count on about 1h30 of navigation to reach these islands lost between Sao Miguel and Santa Maria.
On the spot, you will enjoy crystal clear water and a fauna denser and larger than the one near the coast. We often meet white trevally, tassergals, sea chubs and barracudas in numbers. The site also hosts groupers that can reach up to 2 meters in length at a depth of only 15 meters.
Note: A 70€ extra is charged for this one-day Off Shore excursion. The departures depend on good marine forecast, so do plan on spending several days in Santa Maria if this destination is part of your wish list.