Porto Santo, the "golden island”, is a paradisiac peace of land, well known for its long sand beach (9 km). The beach, with its yellow and fine sand, surrounds most of the southern coast of the island. Porto Santo is the second largest of the only two inhabited islands in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
Above all, it offers quietness and a contagious charm. Whoever visits this place does not remain indifferent.
The origins of the island are wrapped up in mystery. The largest problem resides in the origin of the name and in the way the island was discovered. According to the historian, the chronicles have been interpreted in many different ways. One of them, the most widely known and disclosed theory, talks of a storm, endured by João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, at the service of Prince Henry. The historian recalls that, according to João de Barros, they were on their way to another destination when they got caught by a storm that made them leave their course. In 1418, after many unpleasant hours and days, they arrived at the island, which they called Porto Santo.
Another piece of relevant data on the island of Porto Santo, glorified by Alberto Vieira, is the fact that the island comes about as the first Portuguese area in the Atlantic, “being thus an important milestone in the heroic deeds of the 15th century”.
Unknown by many madeirans is the fact that the islets became famous and still are today occasionally called, in a pejorative manner, prophets. It all started a long time ago, when in the 15th century a false prophet, Fernão Bravo, turned up, at a time when the main authorities were away from the island. The shepherd had a mystical crisis and went down to the village, pointing out the sins of society. He led the people into an excess of religious fanaticism for 18 days.
In terms of economic activities, Porto Santo starts off by having poor agriculture. The economy of the island is based on trade and services. The last few years have known an increase in tourism, to which the ship that connects Madeira to Porto Santo has helped a lot. New hotel units and restaurants have been built, with increasingly more quality. The golf course, as well as the museums and leisure equipment that make Porto Santo a unique destination, must not be forgotten.
The climate is dry and stable, with little thermal variation between the seasons. As such, it is quite common to go to the beach all year round. The sea water is truly warm throughout the year.
The island of Porto Santo has today about 5.500 inhabitants and an area of 42,48 km2.