Porto Santo lies 43 km northeast of Madeira.
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Zarco and his crew took shelter here in 1418, while on their way to explore the west coast of Africa. Realizing that the island would be a useful base, he returned here in 1419 to plant the Portuguese flag, going on to Madeira the following year. Early settlers introduced rabbits and goats, which quickly stripped the island of its vegetation, so Porto Santo is not as green as Madeira. Instead, the “Golden Island” has one major asset: its magnificent sandy beach, which brings holiday makers from Madeira and mainland Europe in search of sunshine, sea and the agreeable sense of being a very long way from the busy world.