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PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO: PR8 WALK IN MADEIRA

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The image shows Ponta de São Lourenço disappearing into the sea.
Ponta de São Lourenço

Ponta de São Lourenço is a stunning part of Madeira.

Its rocky terrain and rugged cliff edges sit in a bed of turquoise sea waters. It resembles the final piece to a jigsaw-puzzle island.

This incredible part of the island is filled with epic scenery, hidden beaches and epic hiking trails – it’s a must for any Madeira itinerary.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know before heading to Ponta de São Lourenço, as well as details of the best walk in the area – the PR8 in Madeira.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE HIKING IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

LOCATION OF PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

Ponta de São Lourenço is located in the east of the island. In fact, it’s the very furthest easterly point that you can go.

Below is an interactive map so you can gauge exactly where it is on the island. I’ve placed the pin at the head of the PR8 trail so you can get to the start of the hike easily.

Feel free to bookmark this page so that you can refer back to it at a later date.

HOW TO GET TO PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

PR8 Signpost

BY CAR

The best way to get to Ponta de São Lourenço is by car. It’s roughly 30 minutes from Funchal (the capital city) and is reached by following the coastline for approximately 24km. It’s a really straightforward route, with no mountains to wind your way up. This is a very important detail if you have any experience of driving in Madeira!

Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll need to park up beside the trailhead. There are tonnes of free parking spots for this walk so there is no need to worry about bringing cash or rushing to get there early in the morning.

BY BUS

Alternatively, you can catch the 113 bus from Funchal bus station (Funchal Edificio 2000) to Baía D’Abra. This will drop you off right outside the PR8 trailhead. It will also take around 1 hour and 20 minutes and will cost just under €3.

THE PR8 WALK IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

The image shows the view from a section along the PR8 hiking trail.
Ponta de São Lourenço PR8 trail

KEY STATISTICS OF THE PR8 WALK

  • Distance: 7.4km
  • Elevation: 412 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Route type: Out and back

DETAILS OF THE HIKE

The walk is clearly signposted at the beginning of the trail and begins along a dusty path with a slight descent.

As the descent gets steeper, you’ll quickly find some viewpoints to take a few pictures on the edge of the cliff. It’s here that you’ll see a small beach that’s nestled between the rugged cliff edges. If you’re interested in heading down to the cove, then follow the loosely defined trail to the right. Alternatively, you can stop by on your return to the car park.

The image shows a beach called Praia São Lourenço
Praia São Lourenço

If you continue on, you’ll soon begin to undulate over the rubble to the next viewpoint. The ground here is on a slant, making it tough on the ankles for a brief while.

Once you’ve reached some steps, you’ll begin to descend very quickly towards an impressive set of rock formations that protrude from the dark blue sea waters. On a busy day, passing on these stairs can be quite tricky.

The image shows rock formation on the PR8 in Madeira.
Rock formations

When you’ve made it to the viewpoint, you’ll no doubt enjoy snapping some pictures of your surroundings. However, be sure to pay attention to the detail of the cliff edges which hold evidence of lava explosions on the volcanic island. They snake their way down into the sea and present an array of vibrant colours.

On the opposite side of the trail, you’ll notice the fishing farms below and a glimpse of the nearby island of Porto Santo.

The image shows lava trails in Ponta de São Lourenço.
Lava trails

As you continue along the trail, the route begins to steepen. It’s nothing drastic, but it’s a good warm-up for what’s to come.

As you reach the end of the first real incline, the route immediately turns back on itself and continues with an accent.

From here, the route flattens and hugs the cliff edge, providing stunning coastal views.

The image shows the trail along the PR8 in Madeira.
PR8 in Madeira

Following another short-lived incline, you’ll reach a viewpoint. This is a good opportunity to catch your breath and take some pictures of the trail so far. You’ll also be high enough now to see the magnificent tail of Ponta de São Lourenço that slowly disappears into the distance.

The next stretch of the walk will see you through to a set of steps. This is where you will begin to descend into a dome surrounded by hillsides. You’ll also spot a restaurant in the distance where you can stop for some well-earned lunch. If you need to use the toilets, you’ll need to pay €1.

After a short break, it’s time to head to the final destination viewpoint – Miradouro Ponta do Furado.

The image shows a set of stairs in Ponta de São Lourenço.
Stairs

To get there, you’ll slowly begin to ascend. There are two routes: straight up the giant hill, or an easier ascent up some man-made steps. The man-made steps haven’t been maintained very well, so although it may slow your breath slightly, you’ll need to be careful not to trip.

After a few moments, you’ll reach the most technical part of the walk – some steep stone ‘steps’ that seem to go on forever. I put the word steps in quotation marks as they’re barely adequate and it can be quite a scramble at times. Still, it’s all part of the adventure!

Once you’ve made it to the peak, you’ll be glad that you pushed through as you witness the very edge of the island. As you overlook the long tail of land that’s been left detached from Madeira, you’ll soon realise why the PR8 trail is so popular.

The image shows the tail of Ponta de São Lourenço.
Ponta de São Lourenço

As this is an out and back route, when you’re ready, it’s time to make the return journey.

Unsurprisingly, the return journey is much easier than the way out due to travelling mostly downhill this time round. However, you will find a few short and sharp inclines that seem to pop out of nowhere!

If you didn’t grab lunch at the restaurant near the peak of the walk, then upon arrival at the car park, there is usually a van selling some grub.

Alternatively, you can head into the nearby town of Caniçal for something more filling.

The image shows some of the island in Madeira.
Ponta de São Lourenço

MAP OF THE PR8 WALK IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

Whenever we go hiking we always use AllTrails. Although the route is signposted initially and there will be a stream of people heading towards the same viewpoint, there are various paths to get there. If you want to follow the official PR8 of Madeira walking route, then we’d recommend using the interactive map below.

If you have an AllTrails account (which is free) then you can save this map once you’ve logged in.

WHAT TO PACK FOR THE PR8 WALK IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

The weather in Madeira can change quite quickly so it’s always best to be prepared whenever you’re hiking on this island. You should be ok in Ponta de São Lourenço as you’re fairly close to sea level, but you can never be sure. As such, we’d recommend packing the below items when doing the PR8 walk.

The image shows cliff edges in Ponta de São Lourenço.
Cliff edge

  • A waterproof jacket

    I did not go anywhere without my North Face Waterproof Jacket in Madeira. Not only is it a great waterproof that wraps up really small in my backpack, but it’s super light if I want some protection from the wind rather that the ran.
  • Hiking Boots/Trail Shoes

    It goes without saying that any hike should be done in a proper pair of walking shoes, however, you’d be surprised how many people we saw attempting to do this walk in inappropriate footwear. For sure you need some hiking boots or trail shoes as the ground rocks, stone, sand and everything in between. The climb to the summit also requires a solid pair of shoes to protect your ankles as it’s quite technical.
  • Hiking Poles

    Although we never really use hiking poles, these definitely would have come in handy on this walk. As I just said, the walk gets very technical and the trail becomes narrow and steep at various points. If you’ve got some hiking poles then I’d recommend taking them.
  • A Backpack

    Again, this should go without saying, but always take a backpack filled with snacks, lots of water, a mini first aid kid and a battery pack for your phone. No-one ever plans to get into trouble when they’re out walking so it’s always best to be prepared.
  • A Camera

    This location in Madeira is one of the most beautiful and you’ll want to take many pictures along the way. You’ll also find various scenic spots nearby which are worth checking out after the walk. These are marked on the interactive map above. If you’re a novice in photography and looking for a half-decent camera, then we are really enjoying using our Canon EOS M50. It’s not crazy expensive and produces some really good quality images.

TIPS FOR HIKING THE PR8 IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO IN MADEIRA

The image shows cliffs in Ponta de São Lourenço.
Cliffs

THE PR8 WALKING ROUTE

Although the route is classed as moderate, the last scramble to Miradouro Ponta do Furado viewpoint is not for the faint-hearted. You will need to have reasonably good fitness levels or take it super slow. If you’ve got children or a dog, then you’ll need to be careful on the route. There are some terrifyingly high cliff edges that don’t have much of a barrier.

The route is perfect for those who enjoy trail running and you certainly won’t be alone if you do decide to put your trainers on!

CARRYING MONEY AROUND MADEIRA

Madeira is still a little behind the times and often there are cafes and restaurants that don’t take card payments. It’s always worth carrying some spare change when you go hiking in Madeira.

THE BEST TIME TO GO HIKING IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

Since this route isn’t in the mountains there is no need to worry about what time of year you should do this hike. It will be hotter during the summer months and cooler in the winter months, however, both are ok times to hike. We did this walk in December and it was around 22 degrees which we found to be the perfect temperature for our trip.

THE WEATHER IN MADEIRA

As alluded to earlier on, the weather in Madeira can change dramatically. I’d always recommend packing for all eventualities that nature may throw at you. Although you are less likely to have a sudden change in temperature, the wind on this part of the island can be strong at times.

FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE PR8 WALK IN PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO

The image shows lava trails in the cliff in Ponta de São Lourenço.
Lava trails

So what do you think, is Madeira worth visiting? I certainly think so!

To summarise, the PR8 walk in Ponta de São Lourenço is one of the best on the island. It provides walkers with some challenging inclines followed by rewarding views out into the stunning turquoise sea waters. Although it’s best suited to regular adult hikers, well-trained dogs and well-behaved children would also enjoy this walk.

We hope you have an awesome time on this walk and if you have any further questions then drop us a comment down below.

If you’re looking for more great walks and things to do in Madeira, then the below posts may be useful.

  • 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.
  • Maderia Beaches / Madeira is riddled with a variety of unique beaches. From black sand and rugged cliff edges to crystal clear waters in hidden coves, there is a beach to cater to everyone.
  • Lisbon 2 day itinerary / Discover all of the best things to do and see in Lisbon in 48 hours



Stay Wild Travels.

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