Posted by: Author | January 9, 2013

Madeira’s Coasts

Praia Formosa

Steep-sided Madeira does not have many beaches …

… cliffs and  rocky shores are the norm – so Praia Formosa (“Beautiful  Beach”), a stretch of grey, sea-smoothed pebbles between Funchal and Câmara de Lobos, is a notable exception. Madeira’s government has begun to realize what an asset this could be; it has plans to landscape the area around the beach and remove the  unsightly oil depots.

Ponta do Sol The beach at Ponta do Sol (“Sun Point”) is the perfect place to watch the setting sun. Dramatic clouds float like islands in a pink and purple sky.
Jardim do Mar In October, the narrow strip of west-facing rocky beach connecting Jardim do Mar and Paúl do Mar is the point from which surfers gain access to the waves. Surfers need to bring their own equipment as there are no rental facilities.
Câmara de Lobos Madeira’s most photogenic beach was put on the map when Winston Churchill, the famous British wartime prime minister, set up his easel here in 1949. Churchill was an accomplished  artist, with an eye for a wellcomposed scene. Nearly 60 years later, that scene has not changed: colourfully striped fishing boats are still lined up on the cobbles of the little beach for cleaning and repair.
Porto Moniz Thundering waves dash Madeira’s northern shores along the dramatic north coast road to Porto Moniz, but once there you can relax in the sun-warmed water of natural rock pools, and let those same waves shower you with spray.
Porto Moniz.
São Jorge About 2 km east of São Jorge, a sign to Praia (“Beach”) directs you to the estuary of the São Jorge river, where you can either swim in a natural pool in the bend of the river or, if you prefer, in the sea (access is from the small pebbled beach). There’s a beach café selling drinks and snacks.
Prainha A pretty, sheltered bay with a beachside café at its eastern end, Prainha has Madeira’s only naturally sandy beach. Calheta, on the south coast, now also has a sandy beach – created with sand imported from Morocco.
Garajau and Caniço A path from the statue of Christ the Redeemer at Garajau winds down to a beach popular for snorkelling and diving. It marks the start of a marine reserve with underwater caves leading to Caniço de Baixo, which can also be reached from the Lido at the Hotel Galomar.
Praia dos Reis
Continuing eastward from Caniço de Baixo, a new seafront promenade leads to Praia dos Reis Magos, a rocky beach with a scatter of fishermen’s huts and a couple of simple cafés selling freshly grilled fish – idyllic for crowd-shy romantics.
Porto Santo If a holiday is incomplete for beach, then take a ferry or a flight to Porto Santo, 40 km north-east of Madeira, where you can enjoy a 10-km stretch of unspoilt golden sand.

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