Porto Santo History
João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira discovered the island of Porto
Santo in 1418 during the reign of Dom João I of Portugal. According to records
the island was at first named ‘Holy Port’ by its discoverers as they found
shelter here from a storm that was chasing them. Its first donee was Bartolomeu
Perestrelo, appointed by Prince Henry the Navigator, who started with the first
settlements. Then cattle breeding and the cultivation of cereals and vines were
undertaken successfully, however the sugar cane cultivation did not find
The discovery of this island was an important first step for other discoveries
made later along the west African coast down to the Cape of Good Hope and from
there to the East Indies and eventually Japan. Christopher Columbus, who was
married in Porto Santo to Donna Filipa (daughter of the first donee Bartolomeu
Perestrelo), lived on this island for some time.
Situated in the northern hemisphere on the 32º latitude, its territory of about
42 square kilometres is almost completely covered with calcareous matter,
especially on the northern side. It is secured on limestone, which is visible in
several places. The island is adorned with peaks, almost all to the north, the
highest of which is ‘Pico do Facho’.
Being one of the islands constituting the archipelago of Madeira, Porto Santo is
amazingly different from the island of Madeira. Whilst lush green predominates
in Madeira, Porto Santo is almost stripped of vegetation and the southern coast
is bordered by a 9 km long beach of soft golden sand, which makes it a highly
esteemed resort area.
Nowadays many tourists seek out Porto Santo to enjoy relaxing holidays as the
island still maintains an air of tranquillity. Due to its isolation some of the
good old-fashioned traditions of the first settlers could be kept. The moderate
climate felt all year round is also a major attraction.
Tourism has given Porto Santo an economic dynamism, which has been growing year
by year. The construction of its excellent airport in 1960, further expanded in
1973, was an important factor to the island's economic and tourism expansion.
The existing hotels provide a good accommodation standard and a wide range of
outdoor leisure activities such as tennis, volleyball, windsurfing, island
The gastronomy, specialized in local dishes, can be enjoyed in several
restaurants, from modern to typical, all of which allowing the visitor to make
the dream of a perfect holiday come true.
Porto Santo can easily be reached many times a day by aircraft from the airport
in Madeira directly to Porto Santo's airport. Flight time is approximately 15
For those who enjoy a more leisurely pace, they can travel by sea on the Porto
Santo ferry, which also transports vehicles if you should wish to take your car.
Travel time on the ferry is approx. 2 hours.
Porto Santo Island is all about beach, mild climate, golden sands and arid
landscapes, right? Wrong! … Now Porto Santo is also about golf! Porto Santo’s
first golf course, inaugurated on the 1st of October 2004 by Alberto João Jardim,
the President of the Regional Government, and Severiano Ballesteros, the former
Spanish world champion golfer, includes two 9-hole circuits and a 9-hole,
illuminated pitch and putt course, plus a clubhouse, putting green and driving
Severiano Ballesteros was also responsible for the design of the course, which
can be played all year round. Another good reason to visit the ‘Golden Island’
at any time of the year!
Porto Santo Locations of Interest
Home - Casa de Cristóvão Colombo
Porto Santo Map ( Click Here )
Porto Santo Golf
Porto Santo Course
Porto Santo Weather
Porto Santo Information
291 211 000 - Town Hall
291 222 122 - Fire Brigade
291 757 303 - Police
291 416 656 - Transit Police
291 742 241 - Hospital
291 419 269 - Emergency Treatment
291 422 122 - Ambulance
291 225 658 - Tourist Office
291 966 300 - Airport
800 296 296 - Support to Tourists
112 - SOS
Porto Santo Beach
There is a long and lovely interesting sandy beach in Porto Santo that you will
find perfect to enjoy your holiday. When you see the sign “Praia” this means in Portuguese “beach”.
Porto Santo Nearby Locations