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Port in a storm

PORTO SANTO, PORTUGAL

Near the western end of Porto Santo’s long beach, looking towards Ilhéu da Cal – an uninhabited island just offshore

Discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese sailors lost in a violent storm, Porto Santo is a tiny, arid volcanic island in the seas northeast of Madeira, home to just 5,500 souls. Today it remains a place of sanctuary for those seeking respite from miserable weather – especially in the autumn, when temperatures cling on to the mid-20s long after the summer crowds have dispersed. Its biggest draw is its beach – admittedly, it’s the only significant one on the island, but it compensates by measuring five miles long, meaning there are often swathes of fine coral sand untouched by human footprints. Having ranged Porto Santo’s shores, ascend to Pico Castelo – the peak to which islanders once rallied when they were threatened by pirate raids. Pirates are scarce these days, but the summit still affords panoramic views across the rolling swells of the Atlantic to Madeira.

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Lonely Planet
November 2017
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