Endless golden sandy beach, breathtaking landscapes and thalassotherapy.
Vila Baleira Resort
Pico Ana Ferreira
Praia do Zimbralinho
Pico de Flores
Pico do Castelo
Let’s be honest, there is not much to do on Porto Santo and yet you will find yourself very busy.
Located 50 km from Madeira you will have to go by air or sea to reach the island. We chose the latest as we were already on Madeira island but you can also find “direct” flight from Europe during peak season.
The ferry (Navio Lobo Marinho) leave from Funchal to Porto Santo in the morning and come back in the evening (this might change monthly)
The ferry trip takes two and half hours and 25% of the people on board will only go for a day trip. Crossing time may vary, depending on weather conditions and certain criteria.
The journey is a good way to enjoy the scenery as the you sail along the south coast of Madeira and out past Ponta de Sao Lourenco, it is not uncommon to see cetaceans.
As the island is only 14km long, the transfer to our comfortable hotel wasn’t strenuous. You do need to take a bus from Porto Santo harbour to Vila Baleira “city center”. Buy your ticket at the desk (2€) and then buy the second one for the next bus from Vila Baleira to the seaside resort area (2.5€).
The Vila Baleira Resort is located on the Western side of Porto Santo and we’ve enjoyed our all inclusive formula. The island isn’t huge, but it would have been time consuming to eat out every day without a rental. A highly enthusiastic animation team (archery, volleyball etc)will keep you busy – even so the hotel was not full at the time.
The hotel, along the Ocean attracts Madeirans (who sail over for weekends) and Europeans drawn by the uninterrupted 9km-long beach that fringes Porto Santo’s south side.
If you run into somebody buried in the sand this is normal. It has healing properties and help with rheumatism, the Thalasso at Vila Baleira offers this treatment, among others (Jaccuzi, Hamman, turkish bath, sauna and Vichy treatment).
- Immersing yourself in Porto Santo hot sand (with physical, chemical, and thermal properties). Your own sweat – having an acidic PH, will slowly dissolve the sand and release the minerals it contains so that they can be absorbed by your skin.
Within short walking distance from Vila Baleira, Pedreira do “Piano” is a place you might want to see. The short hike goes around Pico da Ana Ferreira and will give you a panoramic view of the island.
The basltic columns like the one we saw in Iceland (result of cooling and cracking of an unusually thick basaltic lava flow) were used by the first settlers – extracted for construction and public works.
And speaking of History, Christopher Columbus lived here for a while; his former house is now the island’s Columbus museum, he fell in love with the governor’s daughter and married her.
It is said that Columbus planed his journey across the Atlantic while in Porto Santo. When studying current he was fascinated by the objects that drifted ashore on beaches. “Sea hearts” was an obvious proof of lands in the West (drifting with the Gulf Stream).
Another particularity : windmills found around the island were once used to produce flour for ships on their way to America. Porto Santo is relatively flat, the island is well exposed to wind.
We didn’t want to only see the one near the ER233 and decided to go on a mission to find another one. Just so you know, they are generally not in good shape.
In Conclusion : We stayed 3 nights on Porto Santo and found it very worthwhile to see this contrasting island, even as a day trip. The beach is the main attraction, but all hiking lovers and golf enthusiasts will find something to suit them.
Hiring a vehicle is not mandatory but it will be a convenient option – we will do so when we return.