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The Azores are an incredibly special place: singular not only because of their Eden-Esque, idyllic beauty, but the volcanic island group also has a particular devotion to conserving its scenic splendor and natural landscapes through sustainable efforts and an ongoing commitment to eco-friendly practices. But this doesn’t mean that the Portuguese paradise does not welcome the inevitable influx of tourists to the “Hawaii of the Atlantic,” but rather that the people of the Azores prefer to create a perfect balance between tourism and their impact on the surrounding countryside—all with an eye toward sustainable travel and conservation.

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And while this stunning location is not as well-traveled as other island beauties, modern tourism is on the rise due to a number of resorts looking for ways to welcome tourists with open (eco-friendly) arms: and the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, situated on the Azores’ most popular isle of São Miguel, is leading the pack with its savvy sustainability paired with a luxe, spectacular setting that’s right in the heart of the island’s lushly beautiful landscape.

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About Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort

Upon first glance, it appears as if the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort is a part of the island itself, rising up out of the São Miguel countryside like an elegantly-plotted modern architectural marvel. A sprawling visual masterpiece whose rough-hewn edges complement a meticulously planned and ultra-luxe resort, Santa Barbara’s green spaces and carefully curated landscaping dot the property with a verdant, multi-tiered lushness that echoes the heart-stopping beauty of its surroundings—and acts as a lovely counterpoint to the sharp, craggy shoreline.

But it's not just its singular setting that makes Santa Barbara so special: it’s the property’s devotion to eco-friendly practices that begin at its very foundations. From the resort’s thoughtful architecture and natural materials to its everyday practices that both respect and conserve the natural landscape, Santa Barbara’s commitment to creating a balance between tourism and sustainability is exceptional. And this ethos fits in perfectly with its stunning Azores setting—the first archipelago in the world certified by EarthCheck, the dreamy Portuguese destination is itself passionately devoted to promoting sustainable tourism; while also conserving the volcanic island group’s unspoiled natural beauty.

The Eco-Friendly Lowdown

Built on a pure green pasture, the hotel blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, a visual counterpart to the structure’s natural, locally-sourced building materials. Throughout the property, sustainable practices abound: from the rainwater collected for irrigation to the farm and greenhouses, from which the restaurant harvests its vegetables, fruits, and herbs, the sprawling resort is a green dream from top to bottom. There’s even a garden planted with hundreds of indigenous trees that have taken root amid the area’s volcanic rock. Guests are also encouraged to participate in Santa Barbara’s eco-conscious mission through workshops, beach clean-ups, and a variety of nature-tourism experiences.

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Santa Barbara: The Details

  • Address: Estrada Regional nº1, 1º Morro de Baixo, Ribeira Grande, Portugal
  • The Rooms: Fourteen studios; seven one-bedroom villas; nine two-bedroom villas, all with a small equipped kitchenette, luxe amenities, comfortable living space, spacious balcony, and spectacular views
  • Amenities & Services: Bar and restaurant; access to wellness retreat with indoor relaxation pool and gym; à la carte breakfast from 8 AM-11 AM; daily maid service; room service; outdoor pool; beach club
  • Rates: From $500 and up/night, depending on lodging

Things To Do Nearby Santa Barbara

One could easily spend their entire vacation relaxing amid the sustainable splendor of the Santa Barbara, whether it be indulging in a restoring spa treatment, taking a dip in the pool, or simply soaking up the stunning surroundings. However, as the largest and most populous island in the Azores, São Miguel has an endless supply of outdoor adventures that showcase the island’s singular beauty: from whale watching and swimming with dolphins to hikes through the lush green jungle, there’s something inspiring around every corner of this picturesque island.

  • Take a snorkeling or scuba diving expedition to explore underwater wildlife and distinctive rocky formations.
  • Explore some of the island’s signature scenery via horseback riding, off-road tours, bike/e-bike tours, or the myriad of local walking trails—the perfect way to experience the area’s diverse, idyllic landscapes
  • Hit the water with surf adventures, kayaking, and canyoning through hidden forests and valleys (waterfalls definitely included!) Lessons are also available for beginners
  • Spend the day on the resort’s farm and participate in the daily routine. This package includes interacting with farm animals, information about the farm’s history and practices, and a tasting of the farm’s products.
  • Visit one of São Miguel’s picturesque thermal pools, set amid some of the island’s most dramatic, secluded settings.
  • Indulge in one of the resort’s sumptuous gastronomic experiences: choose between a wine tasting featuring local Azorean wines, and a special chef-prepared picnic; or visit the Quinta dos Sabores organic farm, complete with a tasting dinner.

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Responsible, eco-friendly tourism is just one of the ways that both travelers and their hosts can hope to preserve some of the world’s most stunning settings—and in the Azores, both the residents and the resort-owners are setting a global example for sumptuous sustainability at places like the Santa Barbara Resort. With an aim to provide guests with a unique experience that includes a welcoming atmosphere amid a luxe, lush setting, Santa Barbara’s commitment to sustainability is evident in everything from its rustically modern architecture to its everyday practices. The perfect way to enjoy the Azores’ distinctive setting through responsible, eco-friendly travel, the Santa Barbara proves that a balance between sustainability and tourism is not only possible—but is oh-so-stylishly attainable.