Porto Santo Island has some great beaches and hikes but it should be on the top of your list to experience some water activities while you are on the island. I did the kayak tour and snorkel tour with Matias from Porto Santo Destination Tours. We explored the caves of Porto Santo Island by kayak and even visited the nearby island of Ilhéu da Cal. After the kayak tour, we went snorkeling at the Porto dos Frades tidal pools and were lucky enough to see an octopus, Moray Eel, and other incredible sea creatures in the crystal clear water.
KAYAKING TOUR ON PORTO SANTO ISLAND
The kayak trip began with a pick-up in a van from our hotel by Matias and his Portuguese Water Dog called Sherlock. The starting point for the tour is at Ponta da Calheta, which is the southwestern tip of the island of Porto Santo. Here Matias has a small shed where he keeps all of the kayaks, life jackets, and gear. We got our gear together, had a quick briefing, and then minutes later, we set off into the water.
Matias is born and bred in Porto Santo and has been running the tours for years now with his company Porto Santo Destination Tours. He knows the swell, and ocean conditions well. He helped each of the double kayakers out through the small, breaking waves until we were all out paddling away from Ponta da Calheta.
This is a very low-key tour that isn’t too intensely physical. It’s full of adventure but not an endurance event. You spend 1-2 hours leisurely paddling along the coast and every now and then duck into a water cave to explore. The total distance paddled wasn’t huge and it was more about the adventure than doing a huge paddle. The highlight for me was having Sherlock basically sitting on my shoulder for the whole tour!
Throughout the trip, we entered about five different caves. Some of them were huge and seemed to go on forever as we paddled inside for more than 50 meters. The luminescent water glowed a vibrant blue from beneath the kayak as we examined the high, volcanic rock on the ceilings. You can paddle to the entrance of the cave or go all the way in, it’s entirely up to you. It’s best on a calm day when there’s a bit less current pushing you around but we had a pretty wavy day and we could still go in and out of the caves without too much drama.
At the halfway point of the tour, we paddled into Zimbralinho Beach. This beach can be accessed via a narrow stairway on land although it is pretty remote so few tourists venture here. It’s a beautiful little bay where you can clearly observe the volcanic nature of the rocks on the surrounding cliffs. We paddled into shore and had a break here where we could snorkel or hang out in the sun on the beach.
The final adventure for the tour was to paddle across to Ilhéu da Cal, where we entered yet another cave. This one was by far the largest of all of the caves we entered throughout the tour and I recorded a video as we went inside, which you can see below.
We paddled back to Ponta da Calheta from Ilhéu da Cal and dropped the kayaks off on the beach. You can finish your day there with Matias if you like and just do just the kayak tour. The kayaking tour is quite reasonably priced at 25 Euros including all of the gear and Matias has some great local knowledge as you will see with all of the caves he shows you. This isn’t a sponsored post but if you want to book the kayak tour with Porto Santo Destination Tours I will leave the link here: Porto Santo Kayak Tour Booking
SNORKEL TOUR ON PORTO SANTO ISLAND
If you are up for some more adventure after the kayak tour you might copy the same itinerary as I did and continue with Matias and head straight for the snorkel tour with Porto Santo Destination tours. You can do both tours individually of course but it’s nice to spend the whole day with Matias and do both tours. The snorkel tour is on the other side of the island at Porto dos Frades, which is quite literally down the road from Matias’ house. It’s no wonder he knows where all the sea creatures live when it’s practically his backyard. On the drive from Ponta da Calheta to Porto dos Frades we stopped for a fish sandwich and a beer at a local cafe and then we were refueled and ready to go.
Porto dos Frades is a pristine area with crystal clear water and a rugged coastline, which has some well-protected tidal pools. This makes it a perfect snorkeling spot without many waves. Lots of sea creatures love the shallow water and protection of the reef wall so they call it home.
Matias gave us all a wetsuit, fins, and a mask. The water is about 22 degrees all year so it’s warm enough to snorkel in the wetsuit for about an hour before you might start getting a bit chilly. I get cold easily and I didn’t notice the chill until about an hour into the tour and by then we had almost finished snorkeling.
The volcanic rocks below the surface make a perfect hiding spot for an octopus or a Moray eel as well as lots of fish and other creatures. Within such a small area we saw so many different critters and sealife, even more than on an entire scuba dive I did at one of the top dive sites in Porto Santo. The Moray Eel was probably the highlight of the trip as he came out of his hole to let us know this is his territory.
Again, this isn’t a sponsored post but if you want to book the snorkel tour with Porto Santo Destination Tours I will leave the link here: Porto Santo Snorkel Tour Booking
I hope you enjoyed this review of Porto Santo Destination Tours. I really enjoyed my day with Matias and you could feel his passion and energy for the island, the creatures, and the places he was showing you. Happy kayaking and snorkeling.
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.