Vila do Porto, Santa Maria

36:56.685N 25:08.889W Mon 8th Aug 2018. 56nm 8h30mins

 

We stayed in Ponta Delgada a bit longer than originally envisaged as we were intrigued by all the preparations being made for their “White Ocean” event.  Although the festival is only a few years old, it seems the entire populace and visitors all join in, dressing in white and milling around the white decorated streets, eating, drinking and listening to music:-

 

 

The weather had been pretty overcast and cool for our stay in “PDL” so we decided to head off nearly 60m SE for the last of the islands at the first favourable wind.  True to form, it was nothing like the forecast, but we did manage to sail most of the way, starting slower than expected but really romping along for the 2nd half. 

 

Santa Maria is reputedly warmer and more Mediterranean in feel than the rest of the Azores, so we are looking forward to better weather and lots of good coastal walking.  Geologically, it’s by far the oldest of the islands and was also the first to be discovered around 1427.  It is the southernmost of the Azores and one of the smaller islands.  So far we’ve walked the stretch from this small port towards the island’s best  sandy beach 4 miles away, a couple of times and been amazed by the geology.  Almost uniquely amongst volcanic islands, Santa Maria’s original volcano sank back into the sea, was covered by sedimentary rocks, and much later rose again driven by new volcanic activity, covering the limestone etc with fresh lava.  The result is bands of white rock with pipes and “pillows” of basalt as well as yellow sandy beaches.  It is spectacular and quite the most interesting geology that we’ve seen so far.

 

Limestone quarries cut into the cliff face and mined for lime:

Yellow sand beaches surrounded by black basalt:

… and more stunning views:

 

We’ve got plenty of time to spare before we been to head out to Madeira so we are planning on as many walks as we can manage around the island.  There is an 80km walk around the whole thing, but we may not manage it all, preferring more contained routes around the most interesting bits of scenery and geology.  We’ll see.  There is also an international world music festival later in the month which we’ll certainly get to if we haven’t found the perfect weather for the onward passage before then.