08 Nov Explore — A salty Azorean afternoon at Santa Bárbara
“There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.”
We first came across Santa Bárbara beach on our first outing on the island of São Miguel, Azores, a couple months ago. Located on the North shore of the island and surrounded by beautiful cliffs for the most part, there is something quite appalling about this beach. It was the largest stretch of beach we had seen so far and real waves were dancing, as opposite as the calm little bays we had walked past on the other side of the island, closer to Ponta Delgada (the main city.)
Our first visit to Santa Bárbara coincided with sunset and cocktail hour, so our first impression was quite magical, but left us longing for more. Shall we come back later on and take a swim? Of course we did. A few days later, we drove back to the Ribeira Grande municipality (where Santa Barbara is located) to enjoy the salt and the sand.
Santa Bárbara is also known for its exposed beach break providing consistent surfing all year round, its light crowds, its safety and the great equipment around the beach. It’s an awesome environment for confirmed surfers and less for swimmers, since the ocean can be quite rough at this location. We didn’t mind not swimming and we still enjoyed the spectacular scenery around the beach, the surfers, the friendly atmosphere, the calm and the isolation.
Despite crossing paths with tourists and visitors even at popular locations, there was still a vibe that felt isolating and secluding, but in a positive way. Perhaps it is because of the remote location of the Azores. It’s a feeling that is difficult to describe with words; it was not only soothing but also needed. On that day at Santa Bárbara especially, that vibe was real and strong. We sat there for hours, mostly dipping our toes in the dark volcanic sand, watching the waves and the people catching them. And again the setting. and the fresh, salty air.
Gallery : Beach views in São Miguel