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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Praia Santa Barbara

Praia Santa Barbara

Ribeira Grande - Sao Miguel - Azores , Portugal

Surf, Bodyboard

Santa Bárbara Beach, known locally as ‘Areais’, is on the island of San Miguel or ‘the green island’. It’s the main island in the Azorean archipelago and is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Santa Bárbara is one of the best beaches in the Azores and has become well known in recent years, not only in Europe but also worldwide thanks to the ASP who organise an annual prime event on the WQS circuit, the SATA Airlines Azores Pro. This place is not yet well known but is very interesting and has unique characteristics. For example the volcanic origin has given San Miguel unusual landscapes with black sandy beaches, natural rock pools, high vegetation rich cliffs and mountains that plummet into the sea. The island’s capital, where you’ll find the spot, is Ponta Delgada. The João Paulo II Airport, the most important airport of the Azores, is just two kilometres away from the centre and has very good connections although most flights from Europe have a connection in Lisbon. To get to Santa Bárbara from Ponta Delgada you should follow the R-3 which will take you directly to Ribeira Grande.

Sao Miguel is still a remote and unexplored place for the surfing world and despite its extraordinary potential many surfers around the world don’t even know it exists. One reason for this is its location in no man’s land, far away from the American and European coasts. The island has a very long list of spots, apart from Ribeira Grande in Santa Bárbara we can highlight Anjos, Areias, Baixa da Viola, Ponta dos Mosteiros, Populo, Formosa beach, Rabo de Peixe and Santa Iria. The Azores is graced with any swell direction, even during the summer when there aren’t waves in Europe, as this island in the middle of the ocean always has an exposed beach with good conditions and good winds. There are many secrets kept among the Azoreans.

praiasantabarbara-portugal

Conditions

The Azores Islands are very near to the action centres where the big areas of low pressure form in the north of the Atlantic. This allows the consistency to be extremely high, the only downside is that this closeness to the origin of the swells means that they aren’t very strong, however, in this location it isn’t very relevant as it only takes another day or two for another swell to arrive. Santa Bárbara is an excellent beachbreak with many options and its exposure to the dominant NW swell makes the waves very punchy. It works with all tides and is perfect with any S component wind.

The main season is from April until September, when the better quality swells arrive as the fronts don’t originate so close to the coast and the winds aren’t so strong, making it normal to surf with good conditions, warm water and four or even six foot waves. In winter the situation is quite different as the close exposure to the fronts along with the constant low pressures means the conditions are normally difficult, for example 15 feet is normal, making Rabo de Peixe one of the only options. There is an exposed reef in Santa Bárbara which originates from an ancient submerged crater, this makes the waves refract, creating wedges in different directions. Take care because something which you should be aware of, depending on the conditions, is that the spot has strong currents due to this. The climate is mild all year round, cool in the winter and mild in the summer. The water, thanks to the Gulf Stream, remains pleasantly warm throughout the year, a cool 16 °C in winter and warm 16 °C in summer, and around 18 °C well into November.

azores-portugal
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Beachbreak
  • Wind
    S
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    NW
  • Bottom
    Sand
  • Size
    1 to 10 ft
  • Time of year
    From April to September
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