The Island of Porto Santo is a haven of gold and blue, where the pace of everything is tranquil, inviting relaxation and rest.
Right in the Atlantic Ocean, Porto Santo, 11km long and 6km wide, has been long dubbed the Golden Island, for its extensive, stunning 9km-long beach of fine and silky sand, bathed by turquoise waters. The climate in Porto Santo, mild all year round,
with a sea temperature ranging between 17ºC and 22ºC, makes this island always attractive, even in the winter.
The Portuguese navigators João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira arrived on the Island of Porto Santo in 1418,
the first of the Portuguese discoveries overseas. Having been sent off their course by strong winds while exploring the western coast of Africa, Porto Santo provided them with a safe haven, hence its name which means Blessed Harbour. In 1446, Henry the Navigator appointed Bartolomeu Perestrelo as Governor of the island, which is one of its claims to fame: Perestrelo’s daughter went on to marry Christopher Columbus, who spent some time on the island preparing for his great voyage of discovery to America. Today, it is possible to visit the 15th century house where Christopher Columbus is said to have lived. It is in Vila Baleira, and on display are portraits of Columbus and maps showing the different sea routes that he followed.
Despite its small size, the island’s capital, Vila Baleira, has a number of attractions. The city is centred around its main square,
the Largo do Pelourinho, and the Infante Gardens. The palm tree - and bougainvillea-lined streets are ideal for pleasant,
relaxing strolls. There is no shortage of restaurants, providing many opportunities for tasting the island’s specialties:
beef kebab on a bay skewer, basted with garlic butter, or the famous bolo do caco (bread baked on a piece of tile),
the bread made with yam and also served with garlic butter.
A stroll around the quay will offer you an opportunity to admire the traditional crafts, made with local materials such as shells, palm fronds, canes and clay. If you care to have a taste of the island’s history and culture, besides the house-museum of Christopher Columbus, the beautiful tile panels in the neighbouring 17th century Church of Nossa Senhora da Piedade are well worth a visit.
Porto Santo’s key feature is unquestionably its beach. Said to have curative powers, the sand and waters are rich in iodine,
calcium and magnesium, which makes them highly beneficial for treating rheumatism and bone diseases.
ALL PHOTOS TAKEN ON PORTO SANTO WERE WITH A PHONE
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