Porto Santo, Porto Santo Island, Portugal
Located 27 miles northeast of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, Porto Santo enjoys the same climate of eternal springtime. However, the small 9-mile by 5-mile island also boasts an extensive strand of wide, soft sand beach, which its larger neighbor lacks. The northern end of the island is tall and rugged, showing off the columnar basalt formations and tortured geological evidence of is volcanic origins. The southern end is flat and mostly low, ringed by the beach. The main town of Vila Baleira is centered around a triangular plaza, the Largo de Pelhourinho, shaded by date palms and Dragon Trees. Here you will find the Old Town Hall and the Nossa Senhora da Piedade church, rebuilt in the 17th century on the site of a 16th century original. The Via Cristovão Columbo leads to the small house where it is supposed Columbus lived for some years after his marriage. Back up north, the village of Camacha holds a small Cardina museum created by a local man who crafted small-scale models of many of the island’s water fountains (fresh water was always a scarcity) and gathered traditional farming implements and other historic artifacts. The Fonte de Areia is a geologic oddity, an endless cascade of sand resulting from erosion of the soft sandstone cliffs. For golfers, the island has a new 18-hole course designed by Spanish champion Seve Ballestreros.