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Island Information


Boat Service to Porto Santo

Porto Santo Accommodation

Destination Portugal, Madeira House, 37 Corn Street, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 6BW

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An Introduction to Porto Santo



Porto Santo is all about Sand, Sea and Sun! However, this is not the place for those who want a hectic night life, disco’s etc as well!

The capital is Vila Baleira, and accommodates most of the inhabitants of the Island. There are a few small shops around the town centre plus cafes, restaurants, a supermarket and a small enclosed market selling local produce and fresh fish. There is a small Tourist Office and a palm lined road that leads to the pier. One of the main attractions of the town is the house where Christopher Columbus once lived during his stay on the Island en-route to his exploration of the New World.

The beach is located on the south side of the Island and consists of some 7 km of beautiful fine golden-white sand stretching from the Marina to the east right through to Ponte da Calheta on the western tip of the Island. You can spend the whole day walking along this wonderful stretch of beach, sunbathe, swim or just laze around some of the beach cafes to soak up the "rays" with a refreshing cold drink. The beach is at its busiest during July and August with visitors mainly from Madeira but there is still plenty of space for everyone. During the rest of the year when the temperatures are still very moderate (between 17 and 22 degrees Centigrade), the beach is inviting and unspoiled. Interestingly the sand is said to have therapeutic properties which help those with arthritis; this fact was the catalyst which caused the new and dramatically modern and efficient Spa to be built at the eastern end of the beach.

The North coast is very rugged and many of the steep rocky hills have been terraced for the production of vines.

Crime rate here is negligible so the locals leave their cars unlocked (though we would be foolish to recommend this and it is certainly not advisable to leave anything of value in the car), so it is safe and a pleasure to stroll on the beach even late in the evening to stop at a beach café for a drink and to listen to the sound of the ocean.



The local wine "Verdelho" is sweet and very alcoholic and only a limited amount is produced. Some restaurants provide a free mini-bus service to and from certain hotels and there are several small beach bars which offer lunch and dinner during the months of high summer.

Being a small Island with the sea always in close proximity, it is not surprising that swimming in the ocean, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing are very popular pastimes. Although there are no signposted footpaths, one can walk up to Pico do Castelo (a near perfect volcanic cone shape some 430 metres high), or to the highest point of the Island, Pico do Facho ("The Torch", 517 metres) where once sentries would light torches to warn the people of Machico in Madeira, that pirates had been sighted and were on their way.

There are daily flights from Funchal (15 minutes) or there is the boat service which takes up to 3 hours depending on the sea conditions. Thus one can visit for the day or spend some days on the island; you can even take your hire car from Madeira on the car ferry.

It is not essential to hire a car, but it can be fun for a day or two, to explore the farthest reaches of the Island. Alternatively one can take a taxi tour around the Island or join one of the (few) excursion buses.

With a population of only 5000 very laid back inhabitants (bear in mind that the mains electricity supply was only completed as recently as 1985!), this delightful Island is still very much undiscovered, the question is "just how long will it remain so?"