From tiny golden coves and bright blue waters to black sand with rugged cliff edges, the beaches in Madeira are unique and incredible.
After exploring every corner of the island, we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite discoveries. Some of these are popular and it will be easy to see why. Yet, some are real hidden gems that deserve to be shared.
In this guide, you’ll learn which beaches are best to visit in Madeira and also get a visual of where these sit on the map. We’ve also included some tips for visiting ahead of your trip.
Calheta Beach is a man-made sandy beach in the west of Madeira. Due to its location on the island, the weather is nice and sunny for most of the year at this awesome spot!
It’s split into two coves: the first is great for shallow waves and the second is great for snorkelling. If you’re looking to venture out a little further then there are plenty of companies who leave from the beach in search of dolphins and whales! You’ll easily find these companies along the waterfront.
Calheta Beach has facilities including sunbed hire, toilets and a few café’s nearby. You could easily spend a day here and have everything you need within arms reach. As such, it is popular among tourists and locals.
If you’re looking for a quiet spot to lay down your towel, then head to the cove that is furthest away from the bars and entertainment. You’ll be accompanied by a few snorkelers, but there will certainly be fewer people on this side.
However, if you’re looking for some more atmosphere or have small children, then the other cove is generally recommended.
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are no lifeguards at this Beach.
When it comes to parking, there is a mixture of free and pay and display spots. Of course, it’s always great to snag a free spot, but at least you know there are paid options available if you miss out!
PRAIA SÃO LOURENÇO
Not only is São Lourenço one of our favourite hiking destinations, but is home to a great cove too – Praia São Lourenço.
Praia São Lourenço is a small cobbled cove that’s tucked away behind dramatic cliff-edges with some of the best turquoise seas on the island.
Although small, it holds a wealth of marine life and is one of the best and most secluded places to go snorkelling in Madeira.
To access the beach, you’ll need to head to the trailhead of PR8 – Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço. Once you’ve parked up in one of the free parking bays, then you’ll need to put Praia São Lourenço into your map and do your best to follow one of the roughly paved trails down to the cove.
It may seem like a lot of effort to get to Praia São Lourenço, however, it is well worth it to uncover this hidden gem.
In my opinion, this is one of the nicest beaches in Madeira!
PRAIA DO GARAJAU
Praia Do Garajau is located in the south of the island, not too far from Funchal.
It’s one of the best pebble beaches on the island, so we recommend taking some water shoes rather than flip-flops.
Whilst you can drive down the long and snake-like road to the waterfront, it’s also possible to get the cablecar for just €3 return per person. This is arguably the best way to travel to this beach as you get to admire the stunning scenery on the way.
This location is one of the best for diving and snorkelling, with heaps of marine life in every direction. There is also a lifeguard, so you can enjoy your trip, worry-free!
Upon arrival, you’ll also find a small restaurant to keep you well-fuelled for a day of adventures!
SEIXAL BEACH – ALSO KNOWN AS PRAIA DO SEIXAL
Seixal Beach – or Praia do Porto do Seixal as it’s known on the island – is becoming an increasingly popular beach in Madeira to explore.
This is because Praia do Porto do Seixal is a black sand beach – one of the few on the island.
The black sand, turquoise waters and rugged cliff-edges topped with lush green flora make it one of the most beautiful beaches in Madeira to explore. This is made even more stunning if you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a day where the clouds are hanging low and poor over the cliffs tops.
If you head to the furthest point on Seixal Beach, you’ll also discover an incredible waterfall gushing down into the sea.
This spot is also popular among surfing newbies and keen bodyboarders due to the great flow of waves that are big enough to ride without being aggressive.
Alternatively, there is plenty of space to relax on the black sand – just mind your feet if it’s a hot day, as you likely already know – the colour black absorbs heat!
Seixal Beach is also home to a saltwater swimming pool that resides on the edge of the beach and is filled directly from the overflow of seawater. These are great for kids to play in, away from the larger waves in the ocean.
If you’re looking to uncover the hidden gem that is Seixal Natural Pools, then drive to the Seixal post office before heading down the incredible rock formations and floating peacefully in the calm seawater. These are not to be missed if you’re heading to Seixal!
PRAINHA DO CANIÇAL BEACH
Prainha Do Caniçal Beach sits on the eastern edge of the island and it’s another one of Madeiras best beaches; not only is it another black sand beach but it’s surrounded by awe-inspiring cliffs with some pretty hectic waves.
However, waves don’t come without wind, so it’s worth bearing in mind that this spot is best for a hot day rather than a mild one.
It’s a medium-sized cove, with cheaper sunbeds to rent than some of the bigger beaches and has a cafe on hand for drinks and food – most of which is fresh.
To get Prainha Do Caniçal, you’ll need to trudge down a fair few steps, so it’s worth packing some sturdy shoes, as well as your sandals!
PRAIA DA MAIATA
Praia Da Maiata is located in the north of the island, not too far from the popular town of Porto Da Cruz.
This beach is a mixture of pebbles and black sand. If you visit during high tide, you’ll only see the pebbles.
However, if you’re visiting during low tide, you’ll be welcomed by the soft volcanic black sand. Either way, you’ll be surrounded by mountains which make a stunning backdrop for a day at the beach!
Typically, Praia Da Maiata is used for surfing and paragliding due to its strong winds. As such, if you’re travelling with children then it’s probably best to give this one a miss. This is because it can be dangerous with the rough seas and the occasional falling rocks.
If you do head down to this location, you won’t be disappointed by the stunning scenery which surrounds you. However, you’ll also need to watch out for the jellyfish which often get washed up on the shore. Although, this is fairly common at most beaches!
Machico Beach is one of the best sandy beaches in Madeira.
Although it’s artificial with beautiful bronze sand, it has warm shallow waters and little waves. This makes it the perfect spot to relax while children play safely.
This spot is quite close to the airport and as such, you’ll often see a plane or two while you sit on your sun lounger sipping a cocktail. If you were struggling to get into the holiday mood, then heading to Mochico Beach will certainly do the trick!
There are some great restaurants and facilities such as toilets and showers at the beach. However, the small car park can sometimes cause a problem. To avoid disappointment, I’d recommend arriving before 11 am.
You may not think 11 am isn’t that early, but trust me – it is! The locals in Madeira don’t seem to surface before 10 am!
REIS MAGOS BEACH
Reis Magos Beach is tucked away in the southeast of Maderia in Caniço.
Although it’s a pebble beach, it’s a fantastic spot for many reasons.
The first reason is that it’s the perfect spot for snorkelling and diving. Madeira Diving Center is based along the waterfront and uses Reis Magos Beach as their starting point when searching for marine life.
The second is, that although it’s pebbled, it also has a pier and a large paved area that you’re able to relax on. The paved area also leads into a boardwalk along the entire beachfront too – so Reis Magos Beach is the perfect spot for a leisurely coastal walk, particularly on an evening when the island is lit up by thousands of twinkling lights!
And the third: there are a few lovely restaurants nearby that offer views towards the water. You may even be able to spot a cruise ship too!
If you’re a keen photographer, then just up the road you’ll find Forte de São Sebastião do Caniço. This is a great little picture spot on the edge of the cliff that looks down onto the beach.
PONTA DO SOL BEACH
Ponta Do Sol Beach is on the coastline towards the west of the island and it’s one of the prettiest pebbled beaches in Madeira.
Although predominantly pebbled, there is a large concrete area to lay down your towel if you do not wish to rent a sunbed. You’ll also find a kids water play area in the same area.
The backdrop to this particular spot is one of my favourites. There is a string of colourful houses, dozens of palm trees and the cove is enclosed by surrounding mountains – it’s idyllic.
Whilst this location is popular among families, it’s usually only busy enough to provide a nice atmosphere. As such, the parking is not usually an issue and you can usually pick up some drinks and food from the nearby restaurant without having to wait long.
Praia Formosa is a great place to head to if you’re staying in Funchal as it’s only 15 minutes in the car or 20 minutes by bus.
Like most beaches in Madeira, Praia Formosa is half sand, half pebbles, so we’d always recommend taking some water shoes or sandals to protect your feet whilst walking.
The stretch of sand and pebbles is particularly long here, meaning it very rarely gets too crowded.
Although the waves are fairly calm at Praia Formosa, there is also a ‘natural pool‘. This is a manmade swimming pool which is filled by the overspill of the ocean and is great for kids and adults who are looking for a calm ‘ocean’ swim.
Seeing as this beach is fairly big, you’ll find plenty of parking and lots of different places to eat at various points along the esplanade.
PRAIA DA RIBEIRA DA JANELA
Praia Da Ribeira Da Janela is a hot spot for photographers rather than sunseekers. However, it’s still not a beach to miss when you’re exploring the island.
The beach itself is quite narrow and made up of large stones. To gain access, you’ll need to head through a tunnel and down a small ramp.
It’s here that you will discover what draws so many people to this location, as the turquoise water has something unique about it; there are some impressive protruding rock formations that stick out like a sore thumb!
These rock formations coupled with the incredible scenery and sounds of nature make it a prime hotspot for keen photographers – particularly at sunset.
MAP OF THE BEST MADEIRA BEACHES
We always find it useful to visibly see where things are on the map so that you can gauge how far away things are from where you’re staying. Below is an interactive map of all of the beaches in Madeira that are worth visiting.
If you bookmark this page, you’ll be able to refer back to it at a later date!
TIPS FOR VISITING THE BEST MADEIRA BEACHES
CARRY SOME CASH TO THE BEACH
I’d recommend always carrying some spare change when visiting any beach in Madeira. This is because car parking and sunbed rental is often cash only. Sometimes, you’ll need to pay to use the toilets too.
NOT ALL BEACHES IN MADEIRA HAVE A CHANGING AREA
It’s worth bearing in mind that not all beaches have changing areas in Madeira. As such, I’d recommend always taking a dryrobe. This dryrobe in particular is my absolute favourite and has saved me from any awkward flashing moments! I honestly can’t believe I’ve ever been without one!
NOT ALL OF THE BEACHES IN MADEIRA HAVE SOMEWHERE TO BUY FOOD AND DRINK
As some of the locations that we have mentioned in this post are hidden away in tiny nooks on the island, there isn’t always somewhere to grab a drink and some food from. As such, it’s always worth taking a couple of bottles of water and a sandwhich to keep you hydrated and filled up so that you can spend as long as you like at the beach!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST MADEIRA BEACHES
To summarise, Madeira has some incredible beaches. Whether you love to soak up the sunshine, surf great waves, snorkel your way around the amazing marine life or simply love capturing the waves with your camera, there is an appropriate spot for everyone.
We hope you have an amazing time exploring all of these locations and as always, let us know in the comments box below if you have any further questions!
More on Madeira:
- Levada do Caldeirão Verde / The Levada do Caldeirão Verde is another incredible walk in Madeira that offers a completely different experience to the PR8. It’s a filled with jungles, waterfalls and incredible flora throughout the hike.
- Ponta de São Lourenço / The PR8 walk in Ponta de São Lourenço is an incredible hike in the most eastern part of the island. It’s filled with rugged cliff edges that are smothered in trails of lava, surrounded by turquiose waters.
Millie & Tom x
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