Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)

Beach, Cable Car and Viewing Point in Machico (Madeira)

Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Holger Uwe Schmitt

Situated in close proximity to Funchal, Ponta do Garajau in Madeira offers a diverse array of attractions within its confines. Among these are a staircase leading to a scenic viewpoint, the imposing Cristo Rei statue, the Teleferico do Garajau cable car, and the picturesque Garajau beach.

Cristo Rei Viewpoint

The name “Cristo Rei Viewpoint” is derived from the presence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue situated in this location. This imposing sculpture of Jesus Christ, with outstretched arms facing the ocean, was funded and commissioned by Aires de Ornelas, the son of Caniço’s last majorat. Inaugurated on October 30, 1927, this majestic statue, perched atop a coastal ravine, leaves an indelible mark on the landscape that unfolds before visitors at the Cristo Rei Viewpoint. Due to its scenic and historical significance, this site is a must-visit for those exploring the east coast of Madeira.

Garajau Cable Car

The Garajau Cable Car, operational since 2007 in Ponta do Garajau near Cristo Rei, offers a convenient and scenic route to Garajau beach, situated by the Garajau Marine Reserve. This cable car system provides an alternative means of access compared to the winding road to the beach, offering visitors a breathtaking view of the beach and the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The cable car journey descends 200 meters in just a few minutes, providing passengers with a quick and enjoyable ride to the pebble beach with its clear and calm waters. The beach is known for being part of the Garajau Marine Reserve, where fishing activities are strictly prohibited. This preservation effort allows marine life to thrive, and fish may even approach humans, creating a unique and immersive experience for visitors.

Garajau Beach

Upon reaching the beach, visitors have access to amenities such as a welcoming bar/restaurant, a SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) tour area, and a diving center. These facilities complement the natural beauty of the location, offering recreational opportunities for those who wish to explore the marine environment further.

The affordability of the round trip ticket, priced at €3, makes the cable car accessible to a wide range of visitors. The operating hours, from Monday to Friday between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm, provide flexibility for those who want to experience the cable car and enjoy the attractions around Garajau beach.

Garajau Nature Reserve

The Garajau Nature Reserve, founded in 1986, is a notable underwater conservation area situated on the south coast of Madeira Island, to the east of the port of Funchal. This sub-aquatic nature reserve is characterized by its underwater beauty and diverse marine life. The reserve extends to depths of up to 50 meters, particularly during high tides, providing a unique environment for various marine species.

One of the significant attractions within the Garajau Nature Reserve is the opportunity to observe large sea life, with the Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus guaza) being highlighted as one of the notable species. The Dusky Grouper is a sizeable fish known for its distinctive appearance and is often sought after by divers and underwater enthusiasts for its impressive presence.

Given its status as a nature reserve, the Garajau area likely has regulations and restrictions in place to protect the marine ecosystem. Such measures may include limitations on fishing, boating, and other activities that could potentially harm the underwater environment. These conservation efforts aim to maintain the health and balance of the marine ecosystem, ensuring the continued presence of diverse marine species, including the Dusky Grouper.

For visitors, the Garajau Nature Reserve offers a unique opportunity to explore the underwater world through activities like snorkeling or diving. Observing the rich marine life in its natural habitat contributes to both tourism and conservation efforts, promoting awareness about the importance of preserving such unique ecosystems.

The surfacing of the Manta Ray (Manta birostris) is indeed a captivating annual event that draws attention due to the grace and agility displayed by these majestic creatures. Their impressive size and distinctive appearance make them a sought-after sight for wildlife enthusiasts and tourists alike.

The prohibition of fishing within the protected area is crucial for the conservation of the Manta Rays and their habitat. Overfishing can have detrimental effects on their populations and disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem. By enforcing strict regulations against fishing, authorities aim to preserve the marine environment and ensure the continued presence of these magnificent creatures.

Limiting sailing activities to small boats is a sensible measure to minimize disturbances to the marine environment. Large vessels can have a significant impact on the underwater ecosystem, and restricting their access helps protect the habitat of the Manta Rays and other marine life.

Providing appropriate equipment for snorkeling is a responsible initiative, as it allows visitors to experience the beauty of the underwater world while minimizing the potential negative impacts. Snorkeling, when done responsibly, can offer people a unique opportunity to observe marine life in their natural habitat without causing harm to the environment.

The Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira) appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Machico (Madeira)!

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Visiting Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)

Duration: 30 minutes

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