Porto Santo – The Hidden Gem of Portugal

Among some travelers, there’s a belief that the harder a place is to reach, the better it is. For Porto Santo – that statement couldn’t be more true. Porto Santo is an incredible island with a rich history, just a 20 minute flight from Madeira in Portugal. Known for its 9-kilometer beach covered in soft, this island was awarded “Best Beach in Europe 2022”. Porto Santo is nicknamed “The Golden Island” because of the beautiful golden color of the sand.

Porto Santo is near and dear to my heart because I grew up visiting this gorgeous island. My mother is from here, and many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins are there. So while you may thing I am biased towards this remote area – I promise, it lives up to the hype. In the summers you have beautiful beach weather, in the winter you have lush green rolling hills. You cannot go wrong with any season here.

Porto Santo Island is a vacation where you get to write the script. You can visit this island in many different ways: for relaxation or adventure. There is no rush to do anything on the island, which is an amazing break from everyday life. The people here are welcoming of all families, couples, and individuals. It is truly an inclusive place to be. This blog post may not be as detail oriented, mainly because I did not have to do any planning for this trip. My mom was our tour guide and planned everything: from the meals to the adventures, we were well taken care of!

I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about Porto Santo or our trip please send me an email!


As a child, Porto Santo was hard to get too, therefore it was basically untouched by tourism. Now, there are many resorts and hotels boasting beachfront access and amenities. But I am not here to talk about those, because on this amazing trip we stayed at my mom’s house! It was thrilling to bring my kids here, as it holds so many fond memories from my childhood. I am so thankful to have shared these moments with my family.


The Beach – Not only are the beaches here gorgeous, but they offer a little more than just relaxation! The Geomedicine Centre has scientifically recognized that the sand has healing abilities for those with osteoporosis, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. Even if you do not have any of these afflictions, you are still encouraged to relish in the sand, trust me, you’ll be glad you did. There are many beaches here , my favorite being Ponta da Calheta.

Horseback Riding – We were so excited to be able to ride horses at Passeios a Cavalo Porto Santo. The location is beautiful, knowledgeable staff, and amazing excursion options. You can ride on the beach or tour the island on the mountains. We opted to ride at the stables, and were able to meet a foal just born!

Pico do Castelo– Climb this volcano-shaped peak on the island for some incredible views! Not a hiker? No problem, you can also drive to the viewpoints. The top parking lot has picnic areas and grills, a perfect place to grill out and relax while soaking in the views of the turquoise waters.

Shopping – Downtown Porto Santo has some incredible shops with beautiful clothes and accessories. This has always been one of my favorite places to shop, the clothes are well priced, well made, and you won’t find these styles back home!

The Christopher Columbus House Museum – Step back in time and visit the home of Christopher Columbus. Yes, THE Christopher Columbus lived here during for a couple of years after his marriage to Filipa Moniz, daughter of the first Captain-donee of Porto Santo, Bartolomeu Perestrelo. This was a great history lesson for the girls.

Quinta das Palmeiras – Quinta das Palmeiras is a botanical mini zoo and garden, which offers some bird species and a variety of lush plants. We stayed here for a while, as they allow children to feed their huge fish, and they eat right out of your hand! This fascinated our kids. We spent about an hour here.

Mini Golf – There is free mini-golf, yes FREE! Just before getting downtown. There is a beautiful park with hiking trails, grills, and workout equipment as well. This was a unique and fun spot, the course was paved and smooth, making it very challenging. And we also found probably one of the hardest holes to ever win… just look at it!

There are so many others things to do on this island: snorkeling, golf, diving, spas, etc… Rent a car and explore the island. There is much to see and do, and considering their temperature stays mild year-round, you won’t have to worry about overheating in the summer!


I was thankful to have mostly home cooked Portuguese food from my mother and aunt, but we did have a couple meals out. When visiting the island you must eat: bolo do caco, limpets, espetada, maracuja soda, bacalhau, and a prego. Wash it all down with some ice cold Super Bock!

PXO Grill – Restaurante & Lounge – Looking for authentic Portuguese cuisine packed with flavor? Look no further! PXO Grill has something for everyone, and everything is delicious. Try the espetada and grilled limpets, two traditional dishes of the island. Espetada is not done properly by everyone, but they nailed it here. Where else can you go with perfectly seasoned meat that comes to your table hanging on spears… I am still drooling!

Café Helio’s Bar – The best burger on the island! Café Helio’s Bar was a great stop for a cold beer and burgers or pregos. It is a small cafe with indoor/outdoor seating. Great stop for some delicious food!

Until next time…

So hard to say goodbye!

27 thoughts on “Porto Santo – The Hidden Gem of Portugal

Add yours

  1. You’re right, I’ve never heard of the island before but it sounds amazing! I love the beach and enjoy exploring new beaches, so would definitely add this to a trip to the area.


  2. My friends often described Portugal as one of the best destinations and a good option for retirement. I hope one day we can visit Portugal and explore its beauty, including Porto Santo.


  3. Wow! This place is just so cool. Every scene is so mesmerizing! Plus the food here looks incredibly delicious and yummy! Such an awesome find!


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