São Miguel is the biggest island and home to the most surfers. It is the only island in the chain with north-facing beachbreaks at Ribeira Grande and probably has the greatest variety of surf spots. Both the western and eastern ends of São Miguel are very cliffy as the land drops away sharply from the volcanic peaks that used to be two separate islands. This means the centre of the island is lower and allows for the beaches to form on the north and south coasts. Big waves in heavy water situations characterise the north coasts of the Azores and São Miguel has its share, but few are surfed and many are at the base of cliffs and only accessible by boat Ð Baixa de Viola being the exception. Rabo de Peixe now breaks inside the harbour wall that destroyed a better reef outside but it is still a focal point for winter swells thanks to ease of access and ride compared to the many unridden breaks visible from the cliffs. Mosteiros has the only regularly surfed breaks out west and nothing much happens on the SW coast until Ponta Delgada. Populo is just that, perfectly named as the city beach where everyone learns to surf. With a wide swell window and adaptable sandbanks, it gets especially good on summer S swells. The south coast has way more accessible breaks and fewer surfers riding them, all the way out to the heavy seawall breaks at Ribeira Quente. The east coast is a let down except for the rare challenging lefts of Faja do Araujo. This island is pretty flexible and should be considered a year-round destination with its mix of big swell reefs and exposed summer beachbreaks.