São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores archipelago and covers about 760 square kilometres. São Miguel is the most populous island of the Azores with approx. 140 000 inhabitants. The largest city is Ponta Delgada, which is also the administrative Capital of the Azores autonomous region.
São Miguel is loved by locals as well as by tourists for its beaches, rolling hills, majestic mountains, beautiful lakes, hot springs and its cosmopolitan city. From all the islands in Azores, São Miguel has probably the most to offer; from hiking to diving, golfing to whale watching, shopping to jeep safaris and nightlife to sailing…there is something for all ages, interests and wallets.
To preserve the uniqueness and beauty of São Miguel, the Nature Park of São Miguel was created with a total of 23 (!) areas under special protection management. From these 23 areas, six are marine protected areas (MPAs) covering over 74 square kilometres of sea, and there is also one underwater archaeological park (Dori).
These MPAs are specially protected and managed, as they represent fragile habitats with sensitive species that need protection, mainly from fishing pressure.
In the MPAs of Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo and Caloura-Ilhéu de Vila Franca and in the underwater archaeological park of Dori, no fishing is allowed, but you can still visit these sites to swim and dive. In the other MPAs of Costa Este, Ponta da Maia, Ponta das Calhetas and the Ponta da Bretanha more activities are allowed, yet are under special management and regulations.
The coast provides shelter for several endemic plant species such as the faya tree (Morella faya) or the heather (Erica azorica), as well as for local and migratory seabirds. The water-filled craters are an ideal nursery for marine fish as they offer shelter and food. The salema porgy (Sarpa salpa), as well as the Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) are commercial species that can be found in the area.