A few months ago, I wrote a post about our ideas for where we wanted to go on holiday this year. We knew we were going to be going in September, as that's what we did last year and it just worked so well, in terms of cost and also the fact that no where is too busy as it's the start of a new school year. We were also mindful of the fact that with a new baby on the way, this will be our last holiday as a three, so wanted to make it a really special one for LO.
After a bit of research and reading reviews, we came across a place called Porto Santo. Like most people I've spoken to about it, I had never heard of it and had no idea where it was. It turns out it's a really tiny Portuguese island with a population of 5,000 and it's a tiny island just north of Madeira.
We came across the Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa via an article on the Telegraph website which included it as one of the Trip Advisor Traveller's Choice top 10 for all inclusives in Europe, so we were expecting it to be pretty good. It looked amazing on the website and knowing that I would be 6 months pregnant by the time we travelled, we figured we would give all inclusive a try as it'd make life a lot easier for us as a family and it's something we'd never experienced before.
I must admit, after hearing a few stories about all inclusive resorts and all inclusive food often being a bit sketchy, I was a little nervous. I also worried that we would be bored with not much to do, but I really needn't have worried. I can honestly say it's one of the best holidays we've been on and we would most definitely go back as we loved it so so much.
I'll be doing a few blog posts over the next week or so all about our holiday including one focused more on the actual resort itself. But for now, here's our holiday to Porto Santo...
We booked the holiday through Thomson, so flights, transfers and hotel were all part of deal. The flight was from Manchester and took just under 4 hours. As it's a short haul flight, food and drinks weren't included, but there was a good range of things on the menu. We knew we would be arriving really late so we ordered a tasty spicy pasta dish and took a little picnic for LO. We always go armed with lots of snacks, colouring and of course the iPad when we take him on flights.
We did arrive quite late, so it was dark when we arrived and we basically went straight to bed. But in the morning, we couldn't wait to open the curtains to see where we were and to go for a bit of an explore... It was better than I imagined, utterly gorgeous.
Every morning we took a walk from our suite down the path to the restaurant. The grounds and pools are just stunning and it was definitely one of the best parts of each day. We simply couldn't wait to get to breakfast! This little monkey became a bit of a poser while on holiday, in case you couldn't tell!
As the island is so small, there isn't a huge amount to do with a toddler, but we opted to stay in the resort all the time except for one day. LO was so content with being around the various pools, it was more than enough to keep him entertained. We also found there was no need to buy inflatables or surf boards as there were so many left lying around for people to use.
At the Pestana Porto Santo, the pool is lagoon style and it is the main feature of the whole resort, with villas lining the edge. There are footbridges at various points which you can swim under. The style of the pool meant that no part of it was ever busy and often we were the only ones around.
The hotel also has it's own beach which it shares with it's sister hotel next door called the Pestana Colombos. There was a wooden walkway direct from the hotel to the sand and we loved going here every morning and evening.
Last year when we went to Menorca, LO was 13 months and not yet walking, so he didn't really enjoy the beach. This year he was absolutely in his element. It was so pretty with the sunlight and the rows of sun loungers and straw umbrellas.
This was our evening routine for the whole week- going to play with the softest sand ever. It was like walking through icing sugar.
The beach was truly stunning. One of the nicest I've been to in fact. The sea was a little cold so we didn't swim in it, but we played in the sand every morning and evening.
I loved dressing him in his sweet little outfits every evening. You'll notice he's always fiddling with the label in his t-shirts in most photos. It's something his daddy did as a toddler and his fascination with labels increased over the holiday.
I love this photo of my two boys. LO really worships the ground his daddy walks on and it was lovely for them to spend a whole week of quality time together.
This was what LO looked like most mornings and evenings. Our villa was covered with sand but the lovely cleaners were amazing and always got it spotless! I love how the sand looks like gold glitter around his eye.
These two. They really are two peas in a pod. I can't wait for there to be a third boy to run around after ;)
The light on the island of Porto Santo was just idyllic. The sky always looked pink after dinner and we always headed down to the beach at this time.
The baby pool at the hotel is fantastic. It's large and shallow enough for a toddler to walk around in. There were lots of water toys and inflatables for people to use too.
As a family, we tend to stick to our little routines, be that at home or when on holiday. Obviously our routine is not the same as at home, with much later bedtimes and mealtimes but we did tend to do the same things every day. I think it's important for children to have a bit of wind down time on holiday, so we took books and the iPad for those quieter moments inside.
One day we decided to head out of the resort and got the free bus service from the hotel to the nearest town called Vila Baleira. It was probably the hottest day of the holiday so we didn't have much energy to go exploring, but it was nice to see a bit of it and take some photos.
Walking through Vila Baleira. There was a nice playground down near the pier, and places to stop and get a drink and an ice cream.
The weather wasn't cracking all week, with the last few days being disappointingly rainy, but it was super hot the day we went to Vila Baleira.
It's become a bit of a tradition of ours to buy a fridge magnet whenever we go abroad. We found a gorgeous little gift shop in the town which sold lots of treasures and trinkets. It's also a little tradition that we let LO pick out a little trinket himself when we go away. This time he chose a little clay chicken which he carried around all day.
The little church is located next to the town square and is well worth a visit. It's really beautiful and calm inside.
The pretty town square with the white washed church in the background. There are lovely palm trees everywhere. I wish we had had the energy to explore a bit more.
Back at the hotel, the restaurant didn't open until 7pm but you do have the option to book three evening meals at the themed restaurants. When we went there we were able to go at 6:30, meaning we had a bit more evening to enjoy and go for a walk. LO got on fantastically well with all the staff and became renowned for his hats and always carrying something in his hand- normally his little yellow dumper truck and red fire engine.
The light in the evenings before dinner was amazing and it would set over the volcanic mountain in the background. We always set off a bit early to go for a walk and get some photos. Notice LO and his label again ;)
I will be writing more about our holiday to Porto Santo over a couple of posts and also include a video too. Hopefully the sunshine photos will brighten up these dull, Autumn days!