Although many visit Porto Santo for its beaches, one item of historical interest is that Christopher Columbus once lived here before sailing for the new world. With little rainfall, Porto Santo is much more arid than Madeira, but the island does have several natural springs and produces an especially good Madeira wine. The grapes ripen spread out on the sand rather than on trellises.
Cruise ships stopping over in Porto Santo usually have an island overview shore excursion similar to the one we did from the Silversea Silver Whisper in 2002. These island overviews should give passengers a good look at Porto Santo. Small buses drive around the island, first stopping in Calheta to allow the group to make pictures of the Atlantic Ocean. The next stop is at Christopher Columbus' home. Driving on around the island, the tour stops at Pico de Castelo, one of the highest volcanic points on the island, and the Fonte de Areia (Fountain in the Sand). The mineral water in the fountain is said to have therapeutic value. The tour concludes at the Portela viewpoint, which allows a good look at the capital of Vila Baleira. Shopping lovers might also want to check out the straw handicrafts and other local souvenirs.