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Snorkel & Kayak Tour On Porto Santo Island


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Shelba Colin



Welcome to Porto Santo Island, a hidden gem in the archipelago of Madeira, Portugal. Known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, Porto Santo offers the perfect setting for an adventurous snorkeling and kayaking experience. Whether you are a thrill-seeker or a nature enthusiast, this island has something to offer for everyone.


Located just a short ferry ride away from the main island of Madeira, Porto Santo is a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. With its untouched landscapes and abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder that snorkeling and kayaking are popular activities here.


Snorkeling in the turquoise waters of Porto Santo allows you to explore the vibrant underwater world. Swim alongside colorful fish, witness the vibrant coral reefs, and marvel at the marine biodiversity that thrives in these waters. Kayaking, on the other hand, offers a unique perspective of the island’s coastline, allowing you to navigate through hidden coves, explore sea caves, and experience the thrill of gliding through the waves.


Whether you are a beginner or an experienced snorkeler or kayaker, Porto Santo offers options for all skill levels. Guided tours are available for those who want to discover the best spots and learn about the marine life from knowledgeable guides. Alternatively, you can also venture out on your own and discover the hidden corners of the island at your own pace.


As you immerse yourself in the beauty of Porto Santo Island, you will not only enjoy the thrilling experiences of snorkeling and kayaking but also be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and a sense of peace that can only be found in this secluded paradise. So get ready to dive into the azure waters, paddle your way through the waves, and create unforgettable memories on your snorkel and kayak tour of Porto Santo Island.


Overview of Porto Santo Island

Porto Santo Island, often referred to as the “Golden Island,” is a picturesque destination located in the Madeira archipelago, off the Portuguese coast. Despite its small size, measuring only 11 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide, it is home to stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, and a rich cultural heritage.


The island’s main attraction is its golden sandy beaches, stretching for 9 kilometers along the southern coast. The warm and calm waters offer the perfect conditions for swimming, sunbathing, and of course, snorkeling and kayaking. The tranquil beaches are ideal for relaxation, while the more adventurous can explore the rugged coastline and hidden coves by kayak.


Aside from its natural beauty, Porto Santo also boasts a fascinating history. It is believed that Christopher Columbus lived on the island for a period of time with his wife, Filipa Moniz, leading to the construction of the Columbus House Museum in Vila Baleira, the island’s main town. Here, visitors can delve into the history of the great navigator and discover artifacts and exhibits related to his time on the island.


Aside from its historical sites, Porto Santo is also known for its picturesque landscapes. Serra de Fora, a mountain range located in the central part of the island, offers breathtaking views and is a popular spot for hiking and nature walks. From its peaks, you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and the island’s rugged terrain.


Porto Santo is also famed for its therapeutic properties. The island’s sand is believed to have healing benefits, particularly for those suffering from rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions. Visitors can experience this unique form of therapy by simply lounging on the beaches or indulging in a relaxing sand bath.


With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and a wealth of outdoor activities, Porto Santo Island is an ideal destination for those seeking a unique and adventurous experience. Whether you’re exploring the undersea world through snorkeling or navigating the coastline by kayak, this charming island will captivate your senses and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


Snorkeling on Porto Santo Island

Snorkeling on Porto Santo Island is a must-do activity for all water lovers and nature enthusiasts. With its crystal-clear waters, diverse marine life, and stunning underwater landscapes, this island offers a snorkeling experience like no other.


One of the best things about snorkeling on Porto Santo is the accessibility. The island is surrounded by numerous snorkeling spots, easily reached from its pristine beaches. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced snorkeler, there are options for all skill levels.


The warm Atlantic waters surrounding Porto Santo are home to a wide variety of marine species. While snorkeling, you may encounter colorful fish, playful dolphins, graceful sea turtles, and even curious octopuses. Exploring the underwater world allows you to witness the incredible biodiversity that thrives in these pristine waters.


One of the most popular snorkeling spots on Porto Santo is the Garajau Marine Reserve. Located just off the coast, this protected area boasts an abundance of marine life and stunning coral reefs. Guided tours are available, allowing you to explore the reserve and learn from knowledgeable guides about the underwater ecosystem.


For those seeking a more secluded experience, there are plenty of hidden coves and bays around the island where you can snorkel in peace. The transparency of the water provides excellent visibility, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting underwater world.


Snorkeling equipment can be easily rented from local dive centers or beachside vendors, ensuring that you have everything you need to explore the underwater realm. Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay hydrated during your snorkeling adventures.


Whether you’re snorkeling for the first time or have years of experience, snorkeling on Porto Santo Island offers an unforgettable encounter with nature. Dive into the azure waters, embrace the tranquility, and be prepared to be mesmerized by the beauty of Porto Santo’s underwater wonders.


Kayaking on Porto Santo Island

Embark on an exhilarating kayaking adventure on the stunning shores of Porto Santo Island. With its rugged coastline, hidden caves, and breathtaking landscapes, this island provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable kayaking experiences.


Kayaking allows you to explore Porto Santo’s coastline in a unique and intimate way. Glide through the calm waters, feeling the gentle breeze on your face as you navigate through hidden coves and along the dramatic cliffs. Discover secluded beaches accessible only by water and marvel at the untouched beauty of the island.


Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a first-timer, Porto Santo offers kayaking opportunities for all skill levels. Beginners can opt for guided tours that provide expert instruction and take you to the best spots. Experienced kayakers can venture out on their own and create their own routes, exploring the island at their own pace.


One of the popular kayaking routes on Porto Santo takes you to Deserta Beach. Paddle along the coast, passing by astonishing rock formations and fascinating sea caves. Once you arrive at Deserta Beach, take a break and soak in the sun while enjoying the tranquility of this secluded paradise.


Another exciting kayaking destination is Pico do Facho. This sea stack located on the east coast of the island offers magnificent views and a thrilling experience. Paddle around the base of the towering rock formation and be amazed by its grandeur and the surrounding natural beauty.


When preparing for a kayaking adventure on Porto Santo, make sure to equip yourself with essential gear such as a life jacket, a waterproof bag for your belongings, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. It’s also important to check the weather conditions and tides before setting out on your kayaking excursion.


Whether you embark on a guided tour or venture out on your own, kayaking on Porto Santo Island will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the island’s natural wonders. Immerse yourself in the serenity of the waters, embrace the freedom of exploration, and let the magic of kayaking on Porto Santo Island captivate your soul.


Best Spots for Snorkeling and Kayaking

Porto Santo Island offers a plethora of incredible spots for snorkeling and kayaking, allowing you to discover the island’s beauty both above and below the water’s surface. Here are some of the best spots to explore:

  1. Praia do Porto Santo: The main beach on the island is not only perfect for sunbathing and swimming but also offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. Grab your snorkel gear and venture into the clear waters, where you can spot schools of colorful fish and explore the diverse marine life.
  2. Garajau Marine Reserve: Located just off the coast of Porto Santo, this protected area is a haven for snorkelers and kayakers alike. Explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter an array of marine species, from playful dolphins to elegant sea turtles.
  3. Deserta Beach: This secluded beach is a hidden gem for both snorkeling and kayaking. Paddle along the scenic coastline and discover hidden caves and rock formations. Once you reach Deserta Beach, take a break from your kayak and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by stunning landscapes.
  4. Pico do Facho: A towering sea stack on the east coast of the island, Pico do Facho offers a thrilling kayaking experience. Marvel at the dramatic cliffs as you paddle around the base of this impressive rock formation, taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline.
  5. Calheta Bay: This picturesque bay is another fantastic spot for both snorkeling and kayaking. The calm waters and picturesque surroundings make it ideal for exploring the underwater world or gliding through the waves in your kayak.

These are just a few of the top spots for snorkeling and kayaking on Porto Santo Island. As you explore the island further, you’ll discover even more hidden corners and beautiful locations to dive into the azure waters or embark on a thrilling kayak adventure. Don’t miss the chance to explore these stunning spots and create unforgettable memories on your snorkel and kayak tour of Porto Santo Island.


What to Bring

When preparing for your snorkeling and kayaking adventure on Porto Santo Island, there are a few essential items you should bring to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a checklist of what to pack:

  • Swimsuit: A comfortable swimsuit is a must for both snorkeling and kayaking. Choose a suit that allows freedom of movement and dries quickly.
  • Rash Guard or Wetsuit: Depending on the season and your preference, a rash guard or wetsuit can provide additional warmth and protection from the elements, especially during longer snorkeling sessions.
  • Sunscreen: The sun in Porto Santo can be strong, so make sure to bring a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn. Opt for a reef-safe sunscreen to help preserve the fragile marine ecosystem.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the glare off the water by bringing a pair of sunglasses with UV protection. It will also make it easier to spot marine life while snorkeling.
  • Hat or Cap: Shield yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing a hat or cap. This will not only provide protection but also keep you cool during your outdoor adventures.
  • Towel: Bring a quick-drying towel to dry off after your snorkeling or kayaking session. It’s also handy for lounging on the beach in between activities.
  • Waterproof Bag: Keep your belongings safe and dry by packing them in a waterproof bag. This is especially important if you’re bringing valuables such as your phone, wallet, or camera.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated by bringing a water bottle with you. Snacks such as energy bars or fruit can also provide a quick boost of energy during your excursion.
  • Water Shoes or Sandals: A pair of water shoes or sandals with good grip will come in handy during kayaking, especially when launching your kayak from the shore or exploring rocky areas.
  • Underwater Camera or GoPro: Capture the incredible underwater world by bringing an underwater camera or a GoPro with a waterproof housing. This way, you can bring home amazing memories of your snorkeling adventures.

Remember to pack these items in a comfortable backpack or beach bag that is easy to carry. It’s also advisable to check the weather forecast before heading out, and prepare accordingly with extra layers, a rain jacket, or a hat for added sun protection.


By being prepared and having the necessary gear, you can fully enjoy your snorkeling and kayaking experience on Porto Santo Island.


Safety Tips

Ensuring your safety is essential when snorkeling and kayaking on Porto Santo Island. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind during your adventure:

  • Know your limits: It’s essential to be aware of your own swimming and kayaking abilities. If you’re a beginner, stick to areas that are suitable for your skill level and stay within your comfort zone.
  • Use flotation devices: Even if you’re a strong swimmer, wearing a life jacket or a snorkel floatation device is recommended. This will provide added buoyancy and peace of mind, especially when snorkeling in deeper waters.
  • Check weather and water conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast and any advisories regarding water conditions. Strong winds or rough seas can make snorkeling and kayaking more challenging, so plan your activities accordingly.
  • Stay hydrated: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of snorkeling and paddling, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can occur quickly, especially in warm weather.
  • Buddy system: Whenever possible, snorkel or kayak with a partner. This way, you can look out for each other and provide assistance if needed.
  • Respect the marine environment: Remember that you are a visitor in the underwater world, so it’s important to treat the marine ecosystem with care. Avoid touching or stepping on coral reefs and refrain from disturbing marine life.
  • Listen to local advice: If you’re participating in a guided tour, pay attention to the instructions and guidance provided by the professionals. They are experienced and knowledgeable about the area, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience.
  • Be mindful of boat traffic: If you’re snorkeling or kayaking in areas with boat traffic, stay alert and be visible. Use a brightly colored safety flag or wear a fluorescent swim cap to make yourself more noticeable to boaters.
  • Be aware of currents: Before entering the water, take note of any currents or tidal movements. It’s important to understand how these can affect your snorkeling or kayaking activity and adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Protect yourself from the sun: The sun’s rays can be intense, so apply sunscreen regularly to protect your skin from sunburn. Don’t forget to cover areas that are often forgotten, such as the back of your neck and tops of your feet.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable snorkeling and kayaking experience on Porto Santo Island. Remember to prioritize your well-being and make responsible decisions to make the most out of your adventure.



Porto Santo Island offers a captivating snorkeling and kayaking experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and an abundance of marine life, this hidden gem in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira is a paradise waiting to be explored.


Snorkeling on Porto Santo allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world and witness the diversity of marine species that inhabit the surrounding waters. The Garajau Marine Reserve and the island’s hidden coves provide unforgettable snorkeling experiences, where you can swim alongside colorful fish, encounter playful dolphins, and marvel at the intricate coral reefs.


Kayaking on the island offers a unique perspective of the enchanting coastline. Glide through the calm waters, explore hidden caves, and take in the breathtaking views of dramatic cliffs. Deserta Beach and Pico do Facho are just a few of the remarkable locations that can be discovered during a kayaking adventure on Porto Santo.


As you embark on your snorkel and kayak tour, be sure to bring the essentials such as swimsuits, sunscreen, hats, and water shoes. Stay safe by following the recommended safety tips, including being aware of your limits, wearing flotation devices, and respecting the marine environment.


Porto Santo Island is a destination that not only offers thrilling activities but also showcases stunning landscapes, a rich history, and a sense of tranquility. Whether you spend your days exploring the underwater world, lounging on the golden sandy beaches, or venturing into the inland mountains, Porto Santo will leave you with cherished memories and a desire to return.


So pack your snorkel gear, grab a kayak paddle, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure. Discover the wonders of Porto Santo Island, embark on thrilling snorkeling and kayaking experiences, and let the natural beauty of this idyllic paradise take your breath away.