Madeira: Sightseeing Tour of South West Coast!
This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
The south western region of Madeira stands apart as a distinct island, offering a serene escape from the bustling east side and Funchal. This area, where lush laurel forests transition seamlessly into the vast expanse of the blue Atlantic within a short distance, provides a tranquil retreat. It’s an ideal spot for rejuvenation, especially after spending a few days exploring its surroundings.This part of the island is devoid of cities, featuring instead a scattering of quaint villages along your journey.
We will embark on a hiking adventure, following the trails of Levada 25 Fontes and Levada do Alecrim, and later, we’ll make our way to the enchanting natural pools of Port Moniz. Our journey back will take us along the westernmost part of the island, where we’ll make captivating stops at waterfalls and scenic viewpoints. Before we conclude our day and head back to your hotel, you’ll have the chance to unwind with a refreshing Poncha at Camara de Lobos!
Float over the cliffs at the Cabo Girão Skywalk
The Cabo Girao skywalk in Madeira stands as one of the island’s premier viewpoints, offering a thrilling yet potentially nerve-wracking experience for those with a fear of heights. Situated on the island’s southern coast, approximately 25 minutes west of Funchal, this spot is not just a scenic marvel but also holds the title of Europe’s highest sea cliff at an impressive 580 meters.
An interesting tidbit about the Cabo Girao skywalk is its significant elevation. When you’re up there, stepping onto the glass platform, the sheer drop is both awe-inspiring and intimidating, especially for those apprehensive about heights. However, despite the fear factor, the skywalk is completely safe, and the panoramic views it offers of Cabo Girao are absolutely breathtaking and well worth the experience.
Cabo Girao is an essential destination for anyone visiting Madeira, and its unique position makes it one of the most extraordinary viewpoints on the island.
Location: Cabo Girão, Câmara de Lobos, Portugal | Price: € 2
Read more about Cabo Girão Viewpoint
Hike to the Levada das 25 Fontes (Rabacal)
Embarking on the Levada walk from Rabacal offers a breath-taking journey through nature’s splendour. This route is a celebration of the natural world, with its lush vegetation, diverse birdlife, vibrant flowers, serene streams, and captivating waterfalls. The walk to the Risco waterfall, followed by a descent to the lower Levada from the 25 Fontes, leads to a magical area perfect for a picnic and an optional swim. The return trip includes the challenge of navigating an 800-meter tunnel, emerging to a spectacular sea view on the island’s south side. The journey concludes with a relaxing break for coffee or a beer.
Read more about Levada das 25 Fontes (PR6 & PR6.1)
Marvel at the Volcanic Pools of Porto Moniz
Porto Moniz, situated at the north-western extremity of Madeira Island, is a hidden gem brimming with unexpected delights. This charming town, where rural allure meets the majestic union of sea and mountains, offers a diverse array of activities that showcase its distinct natural beauty.
The town is perhaps best known for its iconic natural swimming pools, providing a refreshing escape where visitors can immerse themselves in crystal-clear waters amidst volcanic rock formations. These pools are a testament to the unique geological wonders of the area.
For those seeking breath-taking views, Porto Moniz does not disappoint. The town boasts several spectacular viewpoints perched atop cliffs, offering panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. These vantage points are perfect for photographers and nature lovers alike, providing a serene space to soak in the beauty of the island.
Location: Porto Moniz, Portugal
Read more about Natural Swimming Pools of Porto Moniz
Glide down to the Beach at Achadas da Cruz
Gliding down the steep incline, the cable car connecting Achadas da Cruz to Fajã da Quebrada Nova transforms into a moving viewpoint, offering an absolutely memorable journey.
Located in the Porto Moniz municipality, this area’s landscape is distinctively shaped by the vivid and clear sea, a hallmark of Madeira’s north coast. It’s further accentuated by the strikingly rugged and green hills that add depth and character to the scenery.
Upon reaching Fajã da Quebrada Nova, visitors are welcomed into a serene environment. This pebbly beach provides a perfect spot for tranquil contemplation of the Atlantic Ocean. Beyond just a beach, the ‘fajã’ is also an area of rich agricultural productivity, with cultivated lands that add to the beauty of the surroundings.
The cable car serves not only as a tourist attraction but also as a vital tool for local farmers, aiding in the transport of their produce – a primary reason for its existence. Seize this unique chance to soak in the views of Madeira’s north coast as you ascend this imposing slope.
Location: Calhau das Achadas da Cruz, Achadas da Cruz, Portugal
Read more about Calhau das Achadas da Cruz
Discover Ponto do Pargo the westernmost point of Madeira
Continuing along the coast to the south, you’ll reach Ponta do Pargo, the far westernmost point of Madeira. Perched atop the cliffs at this remarkable cape is a century-old lighthouse, proudly standing since 1890, commanding a height of 312 meters (984 feet) above sea level. The village takes its name from the dolphin fish, commonly caught in the vicinity. Featuring the lighthouse at the island’s utmost edge, park at the Miradouro Farol da Ponta do Pargo for breath-taking views of the coastline and the slender, flat landscapes, all while being surrounded by vineyards and vegetable fields.
You can also walk from Ponta do Pargo to see the Garganta Funda Waterfalls. Park at Miradouro da Garganta Funda and then it is just a short walk of 600m (one way) to see the 140 metres high waterfall, which juts out from a jagged hillside and falls to the sea.
Read more about Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse & Viewpoint
Explore the Charming Village of Calheta
The next stop in the southwest of Madeira is Calheta, a charming village nestled in a steep valley overlooking the coastline. It serves as the primary town along the sunny and fertile southwestern coast of Madeira. The town’s strategic location was chosen in an inlet near the stream’s mouth, and its constant exposure to sunshine, combined with the addition of a newly created sandy beach and marina, has transformed it into a leisure-focused town. Additionally, Calheta is home to the Madeira Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a building that stands like a watchtower over the sea. An artificial dyke protects two small beaches here, with sand brought from the Sahara Desert, adding to the town’s appeal.Read our Calheta (Madeira) Travel Guide
Drive through the waterfall at Cascata dos Anjos
The Cascata dos Anjos, a breathtaking waterfall cascading over the old ER 101 highway, is situated just outside of Ponta do Sol on the Madeira Island, Portugal.
To reach it, head west from Ribeira Brava to Madalena do Mar on the VE3 road and exit at the roundabout towards Ponta do Sol. While many opt to park before the old tunnel, it’s possible and permissible to drive a bit further. Continue on the old road for slightly over a kilometer until you encounter a sign in Portuguese saying “exceto moradores” (except residents). We found a parking spot here (GPS coordinates 32.687640, -17.115570) and walked the remaining two hundred meters.
The pathway along the sea to Cascata dos Anjos is popular, particularly for those seeking a natural shower under the fall. On my visit, I observed children playing in the waterfall, hopefully with dry clothes waiting for them courtesy of their parents. The atmosphere was lively and enjoyable, especially with the warm October 2023 weather hitting 30°C under clear blue skies. I captured some footage on my mobile of cars driving beneath the waterfall, noting that they seemed to take a while before returning, possibly due to needing to turn around further down.
The name Cascata dos Anjos translates to “waterfall of the Angels”. This waterfall, with its heavenly descent from the surrounding cliffs, produces a mesmerizing mist that enhances its beauty. The surrounding lush greenery only adds to the picturesque setting, making it an ideal location for nature lovers and photographers.
There’s a legend that gives Cascata dos Anjos its name, rooted in local lore. The tale speaks of angels coming from the heavens to bathe in the waterfall’s refreshing waters, imbuing the place with a mystical aura that can still be felt. Whether one believes in such stories or not, the enchanting and magical ambiance of the site is undeniable.
Read more about Cascata dos Anjos
Relax in the Charming Village of Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava is home to a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, particularly close to the beach area. Take in the scenic views from an esplanade or stroll along the promenade. For those interested in learning more about the archipelago, the Ethnographic Museum of Madeira is a must-visit, showcasing a collection of ethnographic items that reflect the region’s diverse economic, social, and cultural elements. Other notable attractions include the Lighthouse, providing stunning vistas of Ribeira Brava, Campanário, and Ponta do Sol, as well as the Fort of São Bento, which houses the tourism office.Read our Ribeira Brava (Madeira) Travel Guide
Enjoy a Poncha at Camara de Lobos
Explore the enchanting coastal town of Câmara de Lobos in Madeira, a place dearly loved by Winston Churchill.
Câmara de Lobos beckons with its quintessential seaside charm, featuring a traditional village ambiance. Here, you’ll find vibrant fishing boats, quaint cobbled streets, a lovely seafront promenade, and a welcoming beach, all waiting to be discovered in this guide. The town is uniquely designed around an extended natural harbour, shaped by the striking black basalt rock that sharply contrasts with the azure blue waters. This scenic setting makes Câmara de Lobos a truly picturesque and captivating destination.
Read more about Câmara de Lobos
This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.