Porto Cristo is on the east coast of the island and is 65km from Palma de Mallorca, it falls within the municipal area of Manacor and has a population of less then 5000. However, the population multiplies in summer with the arrival of holidaymakers, who mostly come from other parts of Mallorca.
There are relatively few hotels in the town in comparison with other coastal resorts. This is due to the fact that Manacorins, as the people from the area are known, promoted Porto Cristo as an area to spend summer in the 1940s, and many of them constructed second houses here. This occurred prior to the tourist boom of the 1960s, and Porto Cristo has maintained its charm as a summer town for Mallorcans, the main part of whom come from within the county of Manacor.
The town has built up around its natural port, where there is a beach that is well protected from the wind and seaborne storms. The situation of the beach means that it is an ideal spot for swimming right from the start of summer, or even during winter for the more adventurous. At the height of summer, the high throughput of pleasure craft in the port means that the quality of the water is not as high as at other points on the island, even so, there are always plenty of swimmers in the water.
There is a wide variety of bars and restaurants around the harbour and the beach, and this area is a popular meeting point for people on Friday and Saturday nights.
Thousands of tourists visit the caves at Porto Cristo during the day, these are karst formations and a live music and light show brings this incredible setting to life. The first of these caves to be discovered were the Caves of Drach in 1896, and excursions to them were first organised for European visitors between 1925 and 1935. The Hams Caves were discovered in 1907, and they were officially inaugurated in 1910.
The port is the departure point for the boats that run trips along the coast, these boats having taken up the port space that has been left by the fishing trawlers. In fact, professional fishing has just a token presence nowadays; the vast majority of llaüts (traditional boats, that in the past were fitted with a lateen sail) are owned by enthusiasts rather than professionals.
This area was inhabited in prehistoric times, and in the Caves of Drach there is a section which shows evidence of life from the Bronze Age. The remains of the Palaeochristian basilica of Sa Carrotja are a noteworthy reminder of Roman presence in the area; these date from the fourth century and are one of the few material testimonials to the first periods of Christianity on Mallorca. The remains can be seen on Avenida Joan Amer, where it is possible to view the baptismal font – a small cross-shaped bath where neophytes were baptised by immersion. The discovery of a Roman boat confirmed the hypothesis that the port was used during Roman rule over the island.
The bay continued to function as a port and refuge for fisherman throughout the Middle Ages. However, it wasn´t until 1888 that a second-class customhouse was established, this being the result of the demands of the viticulturists of Manacor, who wanted to be able to export their wines. This period saw the introduction of the Pastilla White, a steamship that was brought into service to make the Barcelona – Porto Cristo run on a weekly basis, carrying both goods and passengers; it was also used to make trips to Marseilles and Sete. The phylloxera crisis, which led to the total decimation of wine cultivation, brought about a severe economic crisis and caused the customhouse to be closed in 1891.
Weekly market; Every Sunday morning in the Passeig de la Sirena.