Waking onboard National Geographic Endurance as we sailed from Terceira Island to Santa Maria Island, the seas were turned up a little by the prevailing winds. However, our steadfast ship carried us smoothly to the sheltered port of Vila do Porto, Santa Maria. Throughout the morning, we heard several presentations from our natural history staff. We learned how the spice and food trade connected the Azores, Portugal, with the rest of the world, and we joined in a conversation about ocean plastics and the mismanagement of waste.

Once safely in the Vila do Porto harbor, we headed out to explore the island, by bus or foot. Some chose the beautiful scenic hike around Pico Alto, while others took a scenic bus tour around this island stopping to admire local art, small mountain towns, beautiful views of the island, and a bit of time exploring downtown. Known for its lighthouses and old-fashioned windmills, everyone had a wonderful sunny day getting to know the small island of Santa Maria.