In the ancient times of the discovery of Madeira, this settlement was christened Lugar da Ponta do Tristão. The riverside was called Janela da Clara and the higher grounds, located between Sítio dos Lamaceiros and Achadas da Cruz, were named Ponta do Tristão.
The present designation is connected to Porto Moniz' first coloniser, Francisco Moniz, the Elder. This aristocrat from the Algarve married to Lady Filipa da Câmara, granddaughter of João Gonçalves Zarco was responsible for settlement in Porto Moniz, which started in the late 16th century. It was at this time that Francisco Moniz erected the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, around which the settlement grew.
According to historical records, Francisco Moniz was one of the first residents of Porto Moniz to benefit from land allotments, inherited from his father, João Lourenço.
Porto Moniz is one of the oldest parishes of the north of the island. It was initially part of the municipality of Machico, similarly to the other parishes of the northern coast. With the elevation of São Vicente to municipality in 1744, Porto Moniz became part of that new municipality.
On 31 October 1835, in the reign of Queen Maria II, the parish of Porto Moniz was elevated to municipality, being formed by the settlements of Seixal, Ribeira da Janela, Porto Moniz, Achadas da Cruz and Ponta do Pargo. However, in 1871, with the annexation of Ponta do Pargo by the municipality of Calheta, Porto Moniz was reduced to four parishes.
Porto Moniz suffered some drawbacks during its existence as a municipality. Thus, and according to historical records, it was suppressed and re-founded three consecutive times: in 1849 it was extinguished to be re-founded in 1855; twelve years later, in 1867, it was again extinguished together with Câmara de Lobos and Santana, to be re-established in 1871; finally, in 1895, it was extinguished for the last time and reinstalled three years later, precisely on 13 February 1898.
Initially, settlers dedicated themselves to cattle breeding, cereal culture and the extraction of wood. Around the 18th century, the main activity was viticulture and later potato cultivation, which by the 19th century become the basis of production and nourishment.
At present, the municipality of Porto Moniz presents a multifaceted economy, which besides the primary sector, registers a strong development of the tourist sector, especially hotels and restaurants.
Undoubtedly, Porto Moniz is one of the municipalities of the archipelago with more tourist potential, boasting good accesses, landscapes of unmatchable beauty and numerous tourist attractions.