Baía da Maia
Protected Landscape Area
The Baía da Maia protected area is located on the southwest part of the island, has 55 hectares and is delimited by the coastline and the slopes of Ponta do Castelete, Baixa da Maia and Ponta do Castelo.
This is an appreciated summer zone, with a rich economic and cultural history, visible in the landscape through the numerous vineyards plantations placed on terraces and protected by walls of basaltic rocks (forming square-shaped plots) originated from slope deposits, due to the existing steep slope.
On the eastern end of this area, at the final part of Ribeira Grande (stream) is an imposing waterfall – Cascata do Aveiro – with 110 metres of height (the highest in Portugal), embedded in an erosion circle where it falls vertically. At the slopes and at the stream’s mouth is exposed a volcanic sequence with several subaerial (with prismatic jointing) and submarine (pillow lavas) basaltic lava flows.
Disperse along the slope, stand out endemic flora species as the Azorina vidalii (vidália), the Euphorbia azorica (erva-leiteira) and the Picconia azorica (pau-branco). Regarding seabirds, it is possible to observe the Calonectris borealis (cagarro) and the Sterna hirundo (garajau-comum) and, in land, the Fringilla coelebs moreletti (tentilhão), the Erithacus rubecula (pisco), the Motacilla cinerea patriciae (alvéola) and the Turdus merula azorensis (melro).
This area is crossed by the Santo Espírito - Maia (PR04SMA) and the Great Route of Santa Maria (GR01SMA) walking trails and is a geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark.