The parish of Porto Formoso is situated on the northern coast of the island of São Miguel, and bordering on the parish of São Miguel (municipality of Vila Franca do Campo) to the south, on the parishes of São Brás and Maia, both to the east, and on the parishes of Ribeirinha and Nossa Senhora da Estrela (municipality of Ribeira Grande).
With an area of 11.87 km² and located 14 kilometres from Ribeira Grande, the seat of the municipality to which it belongs, the name of this parish comes from its port, sheltered within a beautiful cove, hence the name "formoso."
The founding of this parish dates back to the early 16th century, as witnessed under the will of squire Pedro Vaz Pacheco that, on June 2nd, 1509, he ordered the construction of the "Bom Jesus" (Good Jesus) chapel to serve as a tomb for his descendants. It became a curate in the late 15th century, and was turned into a vicarship in 1568.
With regard to this place, Gaspar Frutuoso, in his work "Saudades da Terra" (loosely translated as "Longing for my Homeland"), states the following: "There lies a beautiful sandy-beach cove, in the middle of which we find Porto Formoso, because of what is found therein, which was a clean place and with the best that was found on the north side...".
The patron saint of Porto Formoso parish church is "Nossa Senhora da Graça" (Our Lady of Grace). This temple is known to have existed in 1509, when a rich squire ordered the construction of Bom Jesus chapel in her honour, with a crucifix and altarpiece of "Nossa Senhora" (Our Lady), for a tomb for himself and for his heirs. In the centuries that followed, it underwent extensions and modifications, and today it comprises a finely worked basalt façade and a three-nave interior.
In this parish, on the road linking Ribeira Grande to Furnas, it stands the Ladeira da Velha Obelisk, a tribute to a fierce battle waged here during the Portuguese Civil War (1829-34).
In the area of Moinhos Beach, a lovely beach hemmed in between high cliffs and with a small stream flowing through it, we find countless water mills behind the name of the beachfront area are reminiscent of the work done there in a distant past.
In the vicinity of Moinhos Beach we find Ladeira da Velha, comprising potassium-rich mineral water that springs forth at a temperature of around 30ºC. This spring once served as a much-sought-after spa, where a small rest home was built for patients who would turn to these waters for their treatment. Here, be sure to also visit the Porto Formoso tea factory, comprising panoramic gardens, a museum, a tea room and a store.
This is where you can also enjoy a stroll along the Porto Formoso tea route, with signs pointing the way, and get to know the exotic beauty if its tea plantations. Also noteworthy is the chapel of "Nossa Senhora do Carmo" (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) and the parish's fishing port.
Demographic chart of Ribeira Grande Parishes