The Porto Das Salemas natural pools are one of the best places to swim on the north coast of Porto Santo Island. At low tide, you can float and swim in a vast array of beautifully shaped natural tidal pools. The water was crystal clear in the pools and it was incredible to watch the waves smashing against the outer wall of the pools.
HOW TO GET TO THE PORTO DAS SALEMAS NATURAL POOLS
The Porto das Salemas natural pools can be found on the northwest coast of Porto Santo Island. There is a parking lot at the top of the cliffs and then you need to walk down the steep gravel road to reach the pools. You can drive your car down if you have a jeep or 4X4 but most people park up the top and walk down. I rode my bike from the southeast of the island and was able to take it all the way down to the pools. Luckily, I made some local friends who took me back up the steep road in the truck! I’ve attached a map below with the pin location of the parking lot of Porto das Salemas, so you can plan your route.
BEST RENTAL CAR COMPANY ON PORTO SANTO
When you book your Porto Santo Rental Car online, I personally recommend and always use Discover Cars. They search for both local and international companies, so you get the best deal! MUST Read: Guide to Renting a Car on Madeira
BEST TIME TO VISIT PORTO DAS SALEMAS NATURAL POOLS
It’s important to choose the right time to visit Porto das Salemas natural pools. You need to consider the time of day so that the sun is reaching the pools but most importantly you need the low tide. I suggest arriving one hour before low tide so you have two full hours of time to explore while the tide is at its lowest.
If you visit during high tide, you will probably not even be able to swim as the tide comes so high it covers the tide pools and it can be very dangerous walking on the rocks as the waves come through. The tide isn’t the same time every day. In fact, it changes daily and is directly related to the moon cycle so you need to check the tide chart, which is very accurate. You can view the tide chart for Porto Santo by clicking here. I found that resource really handy because it showed the weekly forecast.
If you have a few days in Porto Santo, you should try and line up your visit to Porto das Salemas with two factors. Firstly, you want the low tide but also it is preferable to visit in the afternoon. Because the sun will rise from the east and then only in the afternoon will the sun break over the top of the cliffs making it warmer and the water looks, even more, crystal clear when the sun is shining on it.
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY IN PORTO SANTO
- Ultimate Luxury: Hotel Porto Santo & Spa best location, luxury and view
- Best 5-Star: Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa Porto Santo’s top-rated resort
- Budget all-inclusive: Vila Baleira Porto Santo meals, alcohol included, private beach
MY EXPERIENCE AT PORTO DAS SALEMAS NATURAL POOLS
The ride from Ponta da Calheta was just over 10 kilometers and had a few hills but it was a pretty fun journey. When I arrived at the parking lot, I decided to ride down the gravel hill on my mountain bike and park it right at the bottom of the road.
Here you have a small sandy beach, one of the few sandy spots on the north coast. There is enough room for about 20-30 people to sunbathe on the sandy patch after enjoying the tidal pools.
In this first area, there are a number of small tidal pools. At very low tide they are great for floating in but I found that the most picturesque natural pools are around the corner to the right-hand side when you are facing the ocean.
As you wander around the corner to the right, you will come across one natural pool after another. There are so many that you can really take your pick of which natural pool you want to hang out in. I didn’t expect so many pools but they just didn’t end. I explored all the way around the coast until it got crazy with waves and I came across so many little gems with no one else venturing this far around. As you can see from my photos, I’m all alone. With turquoise water and beautiful cliffs as a backdrop, this is truly one of the most beautiful spots on Porto Santo Island.
Some of the pools are pretty deep so you can do some very low-key cliff jumping but nothing too high. It’s important to let you know that you may want to wear some water shoes. The rocks weren’t sharp but they were so incredibly slippery that most people, even locals, had a few slips. If you spend more than an hour here and don’t slip you are the Porto das Salemas champion. Just go slowly and keep your hands free to save your fall as you move about.
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FOR PORTO DAS SALEMAS
Shooting in the afternoon is probably best for having direct sunlight on the pools although all of my photos were at midday and they turned out pretty nice as well I thought. I don’t think you can go too wrong here but I have seen photos in full sun and they look very, very cool. I would have a polarizer on your lens if possible to eliminate the refraction/glare from the surface of the pools making them look see-through!
I’m sure this only applies to a few of you reading this but thought I would let you know. Because Porto das Salemas is right next to the airport landing strip, you can’t fly a drone. On most parts of the island, I could fly my drone by bearing responsibility for the flight by ticking the box on the screen but it simply wouldn’t take off from Porto das Salemas even though I only wanted to fly about 30 meters high.
The last point to consider is to bring enough water, sunscreen, and food down to the beach if you plan to chill for a while because there are no vendors, water facilities, or cafes at the natural pools. There is however an undercover picnic area for families to eat lunch.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about Porto das Salemas natural pools on Porto Santo Island.
WHERE TO STAY ON PORTO SANTO
There are a lot of options on Porto Santo Island from big all-inclusive hotels to small Airbnb apartments. I’ve written a huge post about all of the best options when it comes to Porto Santo and you can check it out here: WHERE TO STAY ON PORTO SANTO ISLAND: 11 BEST RESORTS AND HOTELS
I stayed for five days at Vila Baleira Resort and five days at Hotel Porto Santo & Spa but also heard and saw great things about Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa. Here’s a quick glimpse at those three, beautiful beachside accommodations.
VILA BALEIRA RESORT
Vila Baleira Porto Santo (Luxury & All-inclusive): THIS IS WHERE I STAYED! Vila Baleira is a 4-star resort situated right on the golden sand beach of Porto Santo. The rooms are on one side of the road and the restaurant and pool area are directly next to the beach. I had the all-inclusive package, which meant we got a wristband when we arrived and then had buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as unlimited coffee and alcohol all day, every day.
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Vila Baleira Porto Santo.
Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa (Luxury): This is a 5-star resort on Porto Santo Island and it is by the largest hotel group in Portugal. The moment you step in the resort you’ll be rewarded with a blissful setting and its world-class amenities. I would’ve liked to stay here and from everything, I heard while on the island, it is a pretty awesome place to stay. It’s the top pick for a hotel on Porto Santo Island if you want luxury!
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa.
Hotel Porto Santo & Spa (Luxury): THIS IS WHERE I STAYED! Another classy, 4-star resort is Hotel Porto Santo & Spa where I stayed for my second 5-day period on my 10-day trip to Porto Santo Island. I’d happily recommend this Porto Santo hotel for couples and those looking for beachfront luxury with a very relaxing atmosphere. On top of that, the spa has a Turkish bath, a heated pool, massage rooms, relaxation spots, hot sand therapy, and more. Not to mention the restaurant serves fresh local dishes.
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Hotel Porto Santo & Spa.
READY TO EXPLORE PORTO SANTO? HERE ARE MY TOP GUIDES
- PORTO SANTO HIKING: 8 AWESOME HIKES ON PORTO SANTO
- PORTO SANTO BEACHES: 1O BEST BEACHES ON PORTO SANTO
- WHERE TO STAY ON PORTO SANTO: BEST HOTELS AND RESORTS ON PORTO SANTO
- ULTIMATE PORTO SANTO TRAVEL GUIDE: 28 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON PORTO SANTO