Holidays to Porto Santo give you a backstage pass to untouched Portugal. This sleepy island has a beautifully rugged coastline and a complete lack of crowds.
Madeira’s little sister
Measuring up at just 6 by 11 kilometres, Porto Santo is tiny. In fact, this Portuguese island is so small you might struggle to find it on a map. But once you’ve located Madeira, it’s easy – just trace your finger 40 kilometres north and there it is.
Given its size, it’s easy to see why Porto Santo has only recently crept on to the tourist radar. But that’s where its appeal lies – it means the place remains blissfully undeveloped. The beaches are the island’s biggest selling point. Along the craggy north coast, waves foam against sharp cliffs and pebbly coves. And to the east, the sands stretch, unbroken, for 10 kilometres. Head inland, meanwhile, and you’ll see volcanic peaks that look like they’ve been turned on a potter’s wheel.
Vila Baleira – Porto Santo’s only town – is classically Portuguese. Whitewashed villas, neat town squares and pavement cafes are the lifeblood of this place. And if you want to educate yourself in local cuisine, this is the place to do it. The restaurants serve specialities like seafood stew and spit roasted beef using recipes that have been passed down through the generations.
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Vila Baleira is the capital of Porto Santo, a tiny island that lies off mainland Portugal. Whitewashed houses, cobbled streets and a quiet main square show off the small town’s peaceful side, while along at the port the trendy bars and clubs add a modern feel. As for the waterfront, it’s backed by a very long ribbon of sandy beach.
Cabeco Da Ponta
You might not have heard of Cabeco da Ponta, but that’s the way the locals want it. Just like the rest of the island, it’s an in-the-know holiday destination. You’ll find it right beside Porto Santo’s nine-kilometre beach, where everything’s tailor-made for slowed-down breaks. Shops, bars and restaurants are few and far between, which makes it a proper slice of peace and quiet.