Porto Santo, the small island in the Madeira archipelago, really doesn’t have to hide from its much larger and more prominent main island. It is not without reason that many of Madeira’s residents spend their holidays in the neighboring island paradise of Porto Santo. This holiday pearl is not short of special features: whether the 9 km long golden sandy beach, spectacular spots for dreamy sunrises and sunsets or hidden beaches with natural cave pools. On the small island, behind almost every stretch of coastline, there was a little highlight that made our wanderlust hearts beat faster.
So here is our little 4 days Porto Santo travel diary, which we wrote exclusively for Lifestyle-2-Go. Visit their website to inspire your wanderlust.
Day 1: The big beach surprise and our search for food
After arriving at our hotel, we are greeted with the first highlight of our trip – the 9 km long sandy beach of Porto Santo. However, when we arrive at the beach, the first little surprise awaits us: By the time we arrived at the end of November, the otherwise lively beach was completely empty.
Of course, one of the special features here is that, due to the remoteness of the island and the size of the beach, everyone will find an infinite amount of space for themselves. But it does have a strange feeling to experience such a large beach, which is usually equipped with hotel loungers, completely empty. So this is how it must feel when you live on a beach paradise and the season is over.
The next little surprise came quickly after. When we decide to grab something to eat outside of our hotel, we quickly realize that many restaurants have already closed at the end of November. We finally found what we were looking for in the main town of Vila Baleira. A bit spoiled by the low price level in Madeira, we notice here that we have arrived on a holiday island.
In order to be able to explore the island optimally during the next few days, our next route is the scooter rental. There are some providers in the main town who also offer very moderate prices.
We experience the first dreamlike sunset at a spectacular viewpoint – Miradouro das Flores – at the western end of the island.
Day 2: Lonely beaches and a fantastic sunset
Now we have already completely immersed ourselves in the island feeling. We explore Porto Santo with our 125cc scooter. The small streets and the picturesque view are really unparalleled here.
We drive to the northeast end of the island to visit a very secluded beach. Only a few meters from the parking lot, we find a small beach bay, where we can hide behind a rock on the beach in complete loneliness.
Here are some aerial photos of our small “private beach”.
In the late afternoon we continue to another beach highlight, Ponta da Calheta. In our opinion the most beautiful stretch of beach on this island. Due to the different rocks in the middle of the golden beach, this section looks really unique.
There is a nice café right next to the parking lot for refreshments. Since the beach is a bit away from the hotel complexes without any means of transport, significantly fewer people reach this section.
The view from above only amazes us, because from this perspective Porto Santo shows itself from its most impressive side. If you want to see a wonderful sunset right on the beach, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Day 3: Adventurous sunrise hike and impressive natural rock pools
We experience our personal Porto Santo highlight on the third day. Our day starts early and in complete darkness. We set off towards the northeast end of the island. Our destination is called Pico de Baixo, a 209 meter high and relatively steep little mountain, but there is no official hiking route to it.
When climbing up the very loose rocks and gravel, we experience the first moment of shock. A large stone loosens, rolls down, and falls on Corinna’s hand. Fortunately, she climbs a little offset below me, otherwise the whole thing would not have turned out well.
When we reach the summit, we are actually speechless. We are probably experiencing one of the most beautiful sunrises that we have ever seen in our lives.
The descent is no less adventurous and ultimately leads us over sand dunes back to the path.
In the afternoon, the next highlight is waiting for us in Porto Santo. We drive to Porto das Salemas – the natural pools that are located on the north coast of the island. During the ebb tide, a true natural spectacle can be seen here. While the waves hit the outer rocks with full force, there is a well-protected crater landscape with azure blue, natural swimming pools behind. We spend some time just observing the forces of nature and of course we don’t miss to take some dips in the natural pools.
Day 4: Just escaped the storm
Unfortunately the weather is already quite unstable at the end of November and so we unfortunately find out that our ferry is cancelled due to the onset of bad weather.
We decide to book a flight to the main island at short notice, as the ferry will no longer operate for several days due to the high swell. The flight through the storm that had already drawn up in a small propeller plane was an adventure in itself and gave our little adventure trip to this island a very memorable ending.
Key facts about Porto Santo
The island is only about 42 km² and is located about 40 km northeast of Madeira. Since the archipelago is part of Portuguese territory, they also speak Portuguese here. The island can best be reached from Madeira’s capital, Funchal.
From there it’s either a slow and leisurely 2.5 hour ferry ride or a quick and adventurous ride on a small plane in 30 minutes to Porto Santo. Since the ferry was standing still for several days due to an approaching Atlantic storm due to the high swell (this doesn’t seem to be uncommon here in the colder months), we were able to experience both.
To our surprise, the really small airport of Porto Santo also receives international flights. So if you were only looking for a beautiful beach home in the Atlantic you don’t even have to travel via the main island Madeira and arrive directly in the European Caribbean paradise.