The top 7 beaches in the Azores

The beaches of the Azores have it all. On some islands you’ll find ocean pools naturally carved in the rugged coast or perhaps soft black-sand beaches. Sometimes the best spot recommended by locals has a mix of both.

For travelers used to hotter weather it will always feel like it’s never quite warm enough to swim in the Azores, but it just takes some getting used to. Beach-going weather in the summer can last a whole month; however, expect that to be interspersed with showers that turn up humidity levels up to 90%.

The one thing that can dampen your beach plans for the day: finding a large patch of jellyfish in the ocean or washing over the sand — the Portuguese man-of-wars are particularly dangerous and are being spotted more frequently every year. Make sure you keep an eye on local conditions as you explore these top beaches in the Azores. 

Relax in Porto do Carapacho’s thermal waters © José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa

1. Carapacho

Best beach for wellness 

Protected from the ocean by a nature-made low wall of rocks, the calm turquoise waters of the swimming pool in Carapacho on Graciosa Island keep at a welcoming temperature practically all year long — unless, of course, the currents are too strong for a safe swim.

This village in the southeast is more popular during the thermal season, typically from May to September, but most visitors head to Termas do Carapacho just steps away. It is believed that the water in the thermal baths and natural pool has healing properties.

Take in the sunset and Poço do Bacalhau waterfall in Fajã Grande © Frederick Ferre / Getty Images

2. Fajã Grande

Best beach for sunsets

Fajã Grande on the west coast of Flores Island is a locals’ favourite summer destination, with many having a second home there to spend the weekends. The beach is a small patch of black sand wedged between the old port and the cliffs, close to restaurants, cafes, picnic areas and a free parking lot. For younger kids who haven’t learned how to swim yet, there’s a shallow pool near the beach restaurant where they can splash around.

Local tip: More than the balmy and sunny summer weather, people stay here from morning to night to see the sunset on Europe’s westernmost island.

Planning your first trip to the Azores? Save this guide for all you need to know. 

The volcanic black sands of Praia dos Mosteiros © Nessa Gnatoush / Shutterstock

3. Praia dos Mosteiros

Most popular beach

About 30km from Ponta Delgada and popular with locals, Praia dos Mosteiros on São Miguel’s west coast gets busy on the weekends during peak season – onsite facilities, a bus stop within walking distance and free parking only steps from the stretch of sand make it the perfect spot for a full day on the beach.

Local tip: For experienced surfers (waves break into the rocks here), this is one of the best spots on the island to catch some waves. 

4. Praia Grande

Best city beach 

It’s one of the largest beaches in the Azores and one of the most popular swimming spots on Terceira Island. Praia Grande sits right below Praia da Vitória’s seaside avenue in the historic centre. When the weather isn’t favourable for lounging at the beach, plenty of people go there for exercising and oceanside walks.

With fewer currents and warmer waters than elsewhere on the island, expect this city beach to be more crowded in the summer.

Planning tip: If you have a stopover of at least four hours in Terceira, grab a cab, head to Praia Grande for a quick dip, or a stroll past the street art murals, and return to the airport in time for your flight – the city of Praia da Vitória is less than 5km away.

Vila Nova do Corvo, Corvo Island, Azores, Portugal: red roofs of the island's main settlement seen from the hills - view over the town with the volcanic rock beach, boats docked in the harbor's pier
You’ll find volcanic black-sand beaches near Vila Nova do Corvo on Corvo Island © mtcurado / Getty Images

5. Praia da Areia

Best beach for swimming

The smallest island in the archipelago has only one sand beach, aptly named Praia da Areia. Compared to other islands, here, the stretch of coarse black rock reaches far into the ocean, so you can ease into the water without feeling that sudden loss of ground beneath your feet. And the water here is warmer than elsewhere in the archipelago.

Like everything else on Corvo Island, the beach is within walking distance from the town centre (roughly 700m) and right at the end of the airport’s runway – the one to two daily flights hardly ruin the beach going experience.

Piscina Natural de Poça Simão Dias in the village of Fajã do Ouvidor, is one of the most remarkable natural pools on the Azores Islands © Sebastian / Adobe Stock

6. Poça Simão Dias

Best pool for the views

Poça Simão Dias, the most popular natural swimming pool in São Jorge, attracts locals and tourists despite the short but rugged rock path you need to walk to get there. Most come to photograph the clear turquoise waters contrasting with the black basalt coast and the vegetation-covered hills – if this is your plan, come in the morning before the swimming sun-seeking crowds arrive. The pointy rocks around the pool have very few spots to lay a towel and provide zero chances of lounging comfortably to sunbathe, which makes Poça Simão Dias a better spot for quick dips and snorkelling.

Planning tip: Afternoons are always best for swimming when the sun starts peeking out from behind the cliff and warming up the water.  

Wide angle view of Porto Pim brown sand beach, Faial Island in the Azores
With calm sheltered water Praia de Porto on Faial Island is perfect for families © Sergio Nogueira / Getty Images

7. Praia de Porto Pim

Best beach for families

Protected by the Monte da Guia hill and an old defence wall, and a short drive from the centre of Horta, Praia de Porto Pim is a favourite among families on Faial Island. Its calm waters and proximity to cafes and restaurants make it a popular spot even outside the beach season.

Local tip: In 2019, Hurricane Lorenzo left quite a trail of destruction across this small stretch of sand, but the beach has been slowly returning to its former Blue Flag state.

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