The village's name is written as Portknockies in the Old Parish Registers. This would suggest that the port's name referred to not one, but two rocky hills at the hythe - the Port Hill and the Greencastle. Nearby towns include Banff, Buckie, Findochty and Cullen.
The village was founded in 1677 and it became a significant herring fishing port during the nineteenth century, although today only a handful of commercial inshore boats remain.
The town was on the railway network, until Portknockie station closed in 1968.
A popular site in Portknockie is Bow Fiddle Rock, a large rock about 50 feet high just off the coast. The quartzite structure has a large sea arch, which somewhat resembles the bow of a fiddle.
Small numbers of seabirds nest on the coastal cliffs. These include fulmar, black-legged kittiwake, common gull, razorbill and shag. Additionally common eider can be seen in and around the harbour and coves during the summer months.
Rathven is a coastal village in Banffshire, just northwest of the town of Cullen. It is in the civil parish of Rathven, but in the quoad sacra parish of Cullen.