3 seaside places to visit on Madeira Island

With its picturesque seaside locations, pebble and black sand beaches, a rich culture rooted in maritime tradition, Madeira is an unmissable destination for lovers of the sea, partying and good food.

In addition to the stunning beaches, Madeira’s maritime culture is an integral part of the people’s DNA. From the colourful fishing boats that dot the coastline to the traditional festivals that celebrate the island’s maritime heritage, there is always something to delight and surprise visitors. Throughout the year, various festivals and celebrations honour the unique relationship between the Madeiran people and the ocean.

And, of course, not forgetting Madeira’s delicious gastronomy. From fresh fish dishes prepared with local seafood to traditional snacks served in seaside taverns, Madeira’s cuisine extols all that nature has to offer.

We’ve selected three places with a strong connection to the sea to visit on your next trip to Madeira Island. Discover, through our suggestions, why this destination is truly unmissable for lovers of adventure, culture and good food by the sea. 

Câmara de Lobos

The municipality of Câmara de Lobos is characterised by its rich fishing culture, stunning ocean landscapes and unique traditions. In addition to its historical monuments and viewpoints, it is known for its centuries-old connection to the sea. Points of interest include the picturesque fishing bay, the impressive capes and fajãs, as well as the opportunity to savour fresh fish and the traditional poncha, providing an authentic experience of the Madeiran essence.

Câmara de Lobos Promenade

A must-see due to its proximity to the sea and the opportunity to observe all the local life and dynamics. The Promenade of Câmara de Lobos is a 2.2 kilometre long promenade. The pedestrian link begins at Ponta da Cruz, where another promenade connects to the Lido area, passes the famous ‘Xavelhas’ fishing boats and culminates in the bay of Câmara de Lobos. The surrounding area has been renovated, with more vegetation introduced, and the raised structure of the promenade minimises the environmental impact while preserving the natural beauty of the cliff.

Praia do Vigário Beach

This beach is the main option for bathing in Câmara de Lobos. About 400 metres long, it is made up of pebbles, some of which are ideal for relaxing. The water temperature varies between 18°C and 24°C throughout the year. In the past, it was common to see women washing clothes on the beach due to the lack of piped water. Vigário beach is free and offers services near Largo da República, as well as a restaurant with fresh fish and other typical delicacies.

Fajã do Cabo Girão

Fajã do Cabo Girão beach, located in the municipality of Câmara de Lobos, stands out as a special place on the south coast of Madeira Island. Known for their fertility, Madeira’s fajãs have always been difficult to access due to their rocky slopes. To overcome this challenge, a cable car was installed linking the Rancho site to the beach. Initially used by farmers, today it provides a quick and comfortable journey for visitors, offering a unique view of the terraces and the south coast. The infrastructure includes bar and restaurant services to ensure visitor comfort.

Câmara de Lobos Bay

The Bay of Câmara de Lobos, immortalised by Winston Churchill in 1950, has retained its picturesque beauty over the years. It is a destination often featured in travel guides, with cosy bars, souvenir shops, traditional restaurants and even a chapel. The presence of the characteristic colourful fishing boats, the ‘xavelhas’, enhances the beauty of the place. Visitors can enjoy a traditional poncha or savour fresh fish dishes while soaking up the uniqueness of this landscape.

Câmara de Lobos Summer Festivities 

During the summer, the culture, tradition and joy of this municipality is marked by its strong connection to the sea. During this time, the streets come alive with a festive atmosphere, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy a variety of exciting activities.

The festivities also include pyrotechnic shows, live music and typical gastronomy, offering an authentic taste of the local culture.

Calendar of festivities

  • São Pedro Festivities – 29th June to 1st July 2024
  • Black Scabbard Fish Gastronomic Festival – takes place in August on a date to be announced

Paul do Mar

Paul do Mar, located in the south-west of the island of Madeira, 40 minutes from Funchal, is a town characterised by its natural beauty and strong fishing tradition. Surrounded by imposing rocks and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, this town is an important fishing centre, known for the quality and freshness of its fish. In addition, Paul do Mar is a popular destination for surf enthusiasts due to the consistency of the swell in the area.

The Lapa Festival

The Lapa Festival is the most popular event in the parish of Paul do Mar, in Calheta, Madeira Island. Held in July, it is the second largest festival in the municipality. For three days, visitors can enjoy music, dancing and, of course, limpets cooked in various ways (pickled limpets, grilled limpets, stewed limpets, limpets rice) accompanied by refreshing drinks. 

The event, rooted in local tradition, attracts emigrants back to their homeland. In addition to the festival, Paul do Mar offers visitors picturesque beaches, perfect for sunbathing and diving. Praia da Ribeira das Galinhas, at the western end of the parish, is especially popular with diving and fishing enthusiasts. With charming traditional architecture and authentic Madeiran gastronomy, Paul do Mar is an unmissable destination for anyone visiting the island.


Caniçal is another fishing landmark located on Madeira’s east coast, also considered the ideal starting point for exploring the wonders of the sea. 

The main attractions in Caniçal

“Prainha” beach

A beach of copper-coloured volcanic sand that stands out for its unique environment, with contrasting landscapes of yellow and brown tones, as opposed to the island’s predominant green. In addition to the Dunas da Piedade (limestone fossils of great geomorphological interest), the beach offers facilities such as a restaurant service, changing rooms, parasols and parking. Close to Ponta de São Lourenço, a partial nature reserve, Prainha is an unmissable destination for those seeking a memorable bathing experience.

Quinta do Lorde Marina

Located near the Ponta de São Lourenço Protected Area, it offers a breathtaking view of the sea and the region’s geological peculiarity. With 264 berths for pleasure boats from 6 to 45 metres, the marina offers a variety of services, including water and electricity supply, fuel provisioning, changing rooms, toilets, laundry, bar and restaurant, as well as wireless internet access. It is both a gateway to the archipelago and a stop-off point for sailors visiting the island.

Ponta de São Lourenço

With a route of around 10 kilometres (round trip), which can be completed in around two hours, it is considered relatively easy. The route, which begins and ends at Ponta do Caniçal, offers breathtaking views and a unique experience. Classified as a Partial Nature Reserve, this peninsula is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including rare and protected species of seabirds. Trail running at Ponta de São Lourenço allows you to enjoy a panoramic landscape marked by cliffs and the contrast between the calm sea to the south and the energy of the sea to the north. At the halfway point, runners can refresh themselves with an invigorating swim at Cais do Sardinha. Access has a flat rate of €1, with exceptions for residents and children under 12.

Praia da Ribeira do Natal Beach

Praia da Ribeira do Natal beach, located on the east coast of Madeira, stands out as one of the region’s most enchanting natural spots. Sheltered by green mountains, this cove offers stunning scenery, with the clear blue of the sea contrasting with the lush vegetation. Accompanied by a seafront promenade, it’s the ideal place for jogging or walking by the sea. Although little known, the beach offers a full range of facilities, including sun loungers, parasols, surveillance during the bathing season, a support bar and car parking. Recognised for the quality of its waters, it was awarded a ‘Gold’ rating by QUERCUS in 2016, making it an unmissable choice for those wishing to enjoy a relaxing day in harmony with nature.

Caniçal Bathing Complex

The Caniçal Bathing Complex, located in the municipality of Machico, stands out as one of the most attractive points of interest on the east coast of Madeira, especially during the hottest days. It offers a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and direct access to the sea via two staircases. The main attractions are the two saltwater swimming pools, one for adults and one for children, as well as various facilities such as changing rooms, sun loungers, parasols and a bar with a terrace. Opened in 2003, the complex has paid admission and is ideal for a fun day of diving and relaxing by the sea.

No visit to Madeira Island would be complete without a seaside dining experience. The local restaurants, very close to each other, offer a variety of fresh fish dishes masterfully prepared and served with local ingredients.

The Feast of Our Lady of Mercy

This is one of the best-known festivals of the Madeiran people and is held on the third Sunday of September in the parish of Caniçal. On Saturday, pilgrims pick up the image from the chapel at the top of the hill and it stays overnight in the parish church of Caniçal. The following day, Sunday, and after Mass, a boat procession is held, where the pilgrims travel by sea to return the image to the chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, thus ending this unique festival.

A religious celebration that also has roots in maritime culture, this festival is an opportunity for fishermen and their families to give thanks for the protection and blessings of the sea.

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