The Porto Santo Island is situated in the vast Atlantic Ocean, on the Madeira Archipelago, at about 50km distance from the Madeira Island, the “pearl of the Atlantic”. The Madeira Archipelago is located at about 1000km distance from Continental Portugal, and is composed by the Madeira Island, by the Porto Santo Island (known as the Golden Island), by the three uninhabitable Desert Islands and also by the natural reserve of the “Selvagens” (Wild) Islands.
This territory was once known by Romans and Phoenicians, yet the official discovery was in 1418, first with the Porto Santo island by the navigators João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, and on the year after the Madeira Island, by João Gonçalves Zarco and Bartolomeu Perestrelo. The initial plan was about exploring the western coast of Africa, yet due to a storm, the navigators had to shove off the initial route, which lead them to discover the golden Porto Santo Island. The colonization started straight ahead, and century after century transformed this archipelago in one of the biggest Portuguese touristic spots.
Nowadays Porto Santo is endowed with the most diversified services and facilities, yet it maintains its calmness and peace of mind, with a wonderful weather and temperatures, where it rains much less than in Madeira, which also contributes for the differences in the landscape - Madeira has a luxuriant vegetation, often known as the “Atlantic Garden”, and pebble beaches, while Porto Santo is much more arid and dried, with pleasant soft sand, which gave it the “golden Island” designation. In fact, the main beach has about 9km long and, with its charming crystalline waters, constitutes the greatest highlight of Porto Santo.
Porto Santo Island occupies an area of only 11km long and 6km width, offering all year long a pleasant mild weather and an excellent sea temperature, that usually goes around 18º and 22ºC. The Island is mostly flat, with its highest peak at 517 meters high in Pico do Facho Peak. The accesses to the Island can be made wither by plain, helicopter or ferry boat.
It is said that Cristovão Colombo inhabited this Island with his wife Filipa Moniz, the daughter of the governor. The house where they lived, built in the 15th century, is nowadays opened to the public.
The highland also presents a lovely heritage, with places and monuments such as the 18th century São José Fort, the Mother Church of Porto Santo, the Cardina Museum or the Old Wharf, but also great natural panoramas, that can be better observed in the several viewpoints of the island, such as the Pico do Castelo, Pico das Flores, Portela or the wonderful Ponta da Calheta Viewpoints.