Ahhhhh, beautiful Porto Santo, a small island in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. The laid back, sunshine island, nestled between its big sisters of Madeira and Portugal in the North Atlantic Ocean. Just 11km long and 6km wide, this little island is often overlooked as a European getaway. In my opinion it is perfect for couples, families, or anyone looking for a chilled out break, so I don’t know why it is overlooked. Well, we were lucky enough to discover it a few years back, so let me tell you a little about Porto Santo, Portugal’s Paradise Island.
We were looking for a European getaway, that was a little bit different to the usual Balearic or Canary Islands that we had frequented since our sons had been born. We still wanted family friendly, but with a little more of a luxury, laid back vibe. When the travel agent told us about a new destination that they had recently introduced to their brochure, it sounded ideal. A small island, just a three and a half hour flight from London, and famed for its warm sea and huge, 9km long white sandy beach.
We visited Porto Santo in the month of August, and the temperatures were beautiful. Warm and sunny, but not uncomfortably hot (they average about 27 degrees in August). You fly into the airport in the islands capital, and our accommodation that we had booked, Hotel Pestana, was just a 15 minute transfer. The hotel is perfect for families, situated right on the beach and has two huge swimming pools. Well worth looking at if you are looking for a stress free, family holiday. You can see full details and prices just here
Porto Santo, Portugal’s Paradise Island
As I have already mentioned, Porto Santo is not a large island, yet it has a huge amount to do and see on it. The warm, clear waters surrounding the island mean that it is a haven for divers and snorkelling. The Madeirense is one of the most popular dives. A sunken cargo ship, it gives divers a fantastic opportunity to see all manor of sea life. Although we didn’t get round to doing the dive, we spent a lot of time discovering the beautiful world under the sea from the beach, snorkel masks in hand. With an average 30 meter visibility, its a fantastic place to peek into the underwater world.
The sand apparently, also has amazing healing properties. Found to be rich in minerals by scientists, (so its official), the sand is said to help with bone related complaints like rheumatism. Porto Santo, Portugal’s paradise island has magical powers too it seems! If you go out along the beach just after sunrise, it would not be unusual to see people burying themselves, or their companions, in the sands! No need to call the police though, this will all be in the name of healing….
Activities and History
If golf is your thing, then you will be as happy here as you would on the better known golf resorts of Portugal. The island boasts a golf course stretching from beach to cliffs, and designed by none other than Seve Ballesteros. The beautiful diverse landscape of Porto Santo make for interesting and challenging golf! My husband would have loved to have played there, but he left his clubs at home…
If you are looking for a little shopping and traditional wares, head back into the laid back capital of the island, Vila Baleira. Not only for a wider choice in bars and cafe’s but also for a little history. The famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, was said to have stopped in Porto Santo on his way to America. He apparently married a local, and had a home here. The 15th century house has been turned into a small, but interesting museum dedicated to his time here, and is full of great information.
As well as the amazing beach life Porto Santo offers, you also have beautiful hikes and walks. The views of the island are well worth the energy it takes to hike across it, or like us, you can do a jeep tour. We did a half day trip, that we booked with a local company. It took us up over the large sand dunes at Praia Da Calheta, through a couple of small towns/villages and up by the natural formation of Pico de Ana Ferreira. I would fully recommend seeing these. The Pico de Ana Ferreira is said to be Portugal’s Giants Causeway, and a stunning natural landmark, shaped by wind and the elements into slices and columns.
For the Views
If views are your thing, then making the sightly challenging trek up to Miradouro das Flores is well worth it. There are also bus tours you can join. Once you get there, you will be glad you did. It feels like the entire island is stretched out before you. You also have some of the traditional Porto Santo windmills near by too.
For catching the gorgeous sunsets of Porto Santo, I would suggest heading to the view points at either end of the island. You have Pico Castelo, where the inhabitants would retreat to during pirate raids. The views from this vantage point are a must see.
You then have Portela Viewpoint offering a different view and perspective of the island. Either will be perfect for viewing nature showing off with her sunset.
I wanted to mainly introduce you to Porto Santo, Portugal’s paradise island with a little snapshot of what the island offers. It is called the “last undiscovered Europe destination”, so is not yet crazy with tourism. There are a few hotels, guest houses and apartments that you can choose from, so you do have accommodation choices to suit most budgets. Although they are not in abundance, you also have beautiful restaurants, many of which are set in the cliff and overlook the ocean. Just stunning and some even offer a transfer service from your hotel. Porto Santo has a great food, and of course wine scene to satisfy any foodie! There is even a wine festival held every year, at the end of August, in Largo das Palmeiras, the main square of the capital. Just be warned, the wine is potent stuff….
I hope you have enjoyed our little trip to Porto Santo. I would love to know if you have heard of it? Is it somewhere you would consider? With just a short flight from the UK, does it appeal as a short break? Have you visited Portugal or Madeira that are either side of it? I would love to hear your thoughts.