12 BEST BEACHES OF MADEIRA – The best sandy & pebble beaches
Madeira is a mountainous volcanic island, that has a wonderful year-round climate. Most tourists coming to Madeira usually enjoy the wonderful nature and many hikes that the island has to offer. It may not be your typical beach destination, but the beaches of Madeira are definitely worth visiting. The water of the Atlantic Ocean is crystal clear on every side of the island, although on the north side the ocean can be sometimes wilder than on the south side. The several Madeira beaches are a mix of black sand beaches, artificial yellow sand beaches and the typical pebble beaches. Besides the Madeira beaches you can also find some natural swimming pools and guarded outdoor swimming complexes if you’re with kids for example. Find in this complete guide the 12 best beaches of Madeira and some of the best natural swimming pools for a relaxing day by the ocean!
Where to stay in Madeira
There are several towns in Madeira that are great to stay while exploring the island. Funchal is the capital town of the island with the most restaurants around. It has a charming old town and all sorts of facilities you might look for such as a boulevard, shopping centre, cafe’s and nightlife. It is a great place to base yourself with plenty of culture and beautiful old buildings and charming streets to explore. There are also a few beaches in Funchal to enjoy the ocean. However these beaches are from pebble stones.
→ Check out this great tool to compare prices on hotels around the world and book your favorite hotel!
We have stayed in The Vine hotel and Okulus villa which are both beautiful locations. The Vine has the comforts of a hotel including breakfast and is located right in the city centre. Okulus villa is located in the Old Town with the most amazing ocean and city view.
→ Book your stay at Okulus villa here
→ Book your stay at The Vine hotel here
If you want to be based near a sandy beach in Madeira, then Calheta is a great place. While Funchal is more to the east of the island located, Calheta is more to the west of the island located. So eventually you can also stay a few days in both towns depending the total length of your stay in Madeira. Calheta has an atmospheric marine with restaurants offering great spots to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal. We have stayed a few weeks at Calheta Boutique Houses during our 7 months living in Madeira. Highly recommend these private villa’s as you have all the amenities you have at home as well. The modern design and amazing ocean views makes it a perfect vacation home.
→ Book your stay at Calheta Boutique Houses here
Small villages in nature
If you want to experience really small towns to stay in Madeira, then check out the accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio. Take into account that there will be less restaurants around but you will be completely immersed in the local life and nature.
→ Check here the available accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio
General travel must haves for Madeira
Before we dive into the best beaches in Madeira, let’s check a few things to make your travels in Madeira easy and safe.
Have you thought about how to get around in Madeira? A car is the easiest way to drive around the island.
- Book your rental car here and compare the providers to get the best deal.
- Book your scooter or motorbike here to get around in Madeira. Most of the scooters you can drive with driving license (A1/A2/A) from 18 years old, or from 25 years old with a car (B) license. The motorbikes have a minimum age of 20 or 21 with A (moto) license.
Do you prefer a private driver for the day and the freedom to create your own itinerary?
Did you already book your accommodation?
- Check out this great tool to compare prices of hotels on different platforms from around the world and book your favorite hotel
Are you insured during your travels?
- Buy your travel insurance here. Safetywing not only includes coverage for travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability. But also covers all your medical expenses for hospitalisation.
Best Madeira island tours
If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. All of these tours include transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes the entrance fees if applicable. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Customized 6 hour Madeira tour. On this six-hour tour you can choose the different areas you want to visit on Madeira island. Pick the landmarks and iconic places to make your own itinerary with the help of your local guide/driver.
- West Madeira private tour. Starting in the fishing town of Câmara de Lobos you will drive via Cabo Girao, the highest cape in Europe, to the beautiful view of Serra d’Agua valley. From there you will head to São Vicente to explore the Laurisilva forest. Continuing north, you will visit Porto Moniz, known for its natural lava pools where you can swim. As last stop you will visit the famous rocks at Ribeira da Janela.
- East Madeira tour. Visit Pico do Arieiro viewpoint, make pictures at the Santana houses and the beautiful viewpoints at Porto da Cruz to finish the day at the impressive volcanic landscape of Ponta de São Lourenço.
- Canyoning adventure with transfer from Funchal. Get the thrill of canyoneering and explore Madeira’s untouched nature. follow a river as you walk, rappel, slide and jump through hidden waterfalls with streams that cross endemic forests. A super fun and adventurous day!
- Funchal 48-hour hop-on hop off bus tour. Explore the lush landscape of Madeira and the sights of Funchal at your own pace with a 2 or 5 day ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus.
- Dolphin & Whale watching Luxury Catamaran Cruise from Funchal. Enjoy the views of Funchal from a luxury catamaran. Look out for whales and dolphins in their natural habitat as your relax on board and explore the underwater world with a snorkel.
- Ponta de São Lourenço hike with pick up in Funchal. Explore the most eastern tail of Madeira island with its unique volcanic rock formations to understand how the island was created.
- Scuba diving Madeira. Explore the underwater world of Madeira island. A theory lesson and practice in swimming pool is included before you will dive about 12 meters for 45 meters in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Funchal Old Town walking tour. Learn about the history of Funchal and Madeira on a guided walk through the city’s medieval center. Visit the farmer’s market, the Campo Almirante Reis, the Fortress of St. James, and a number of other sites as your guide provides commentary.
- Sunset tour from Funchal by Catamaran. Watch the sunset off the coast of Madeira on a 3-hour evening catamaran cruise from Funchal and spot dolphins (guaranteed, or you get a 2nd trip for free).
- Tuk-Tuk tour to Monte Tropical Garden with Toboggan ride from Funchal. Explore Funchal Old Town with a Tuk Tuk before making your way to the mountains to the stunning Monte Tropical Garden. There you will explore over 70,000 square meters of exotic plants. At the end of the tour you will enjoy the thrilling ride down the hill with a Toboggan ride.
12 BEST BEACHES OF MADEIRA
& 4 natural swimming pools in Madeira
4 best sandy beaches of Madeira
- Seixal beach
- Calheta beach
- Machico beach
- Prainha beach
8 best pebble beaches of Madeira
- Praia Formosa in Funchal
- Praia da Maiata Porto da Cruz
- Reis Magos beach
- Ponta do Sol beach
- Jardim do Mar beach
- Paul do Mar beach
- Garajau beach
- Fajã dos Padres beach
Seixal Beach is one of our most favourite beaches of Madeira. The stunning backdrop of green mountains and deep blue ocean water combined with the soft black sand beach makes Seixal a very unique beach. The ocean water is usually calm, so it’s a safe place to swim. But with a good the swell there are surf lessons available at Seixal which is perfect with the soft sandy bottom and small waves. You can also take a walk on the pier of Seixal Beach to see the waves crashing underneath you against the lava rocks. And if you like to jump of things, then definitely take a plunge into the ocean from the pier!
Seixal beach, one of the best beaches of Madeira
Facilities at Seixal beach
There are plenty of facilities around Seixal Beach such as a restaurant, showers, public toilets and free parking spots. All the ingredients you need for a relaxing day on one of the Madeira beaches. Seixal Beach is also a great spot to watch the sunrise. We did this a few times and it’s really worth it if you’re a sunrise lover.
Read everything about Seixal beach in this complete guide
Watch sunrise at Seixal beach, one of the best beaches of Madeira
How to get to Seixal Beach
Seixal Beach is located on the impressive jungle feel north coast of Madeira island. From the main town of Madeira, Funchal, it’s about 45 minutes driving over 40 kilometres. You can easily combine a visit to this incredible beach with the Porto Moniz Natural Pools and the Seixal Natural Pools. You can find Seixal Beach under its name on Google Maps, or Praia do Porto do Seixal in Portuguese.
Calheta Beach is an artificial yellow sand beach in the village of Calheta with beautiful mountain view. The beach was opened in 2004 and made by imported sand from Morocco. Calheta was with this project the first beach in Madeira to import sand from Morocco. But more Madeira beaches followed this example!
Located on the south coast, the sunniest part of the island, Calheta beach is the perfect spot to relax for a day. There are two beach areas protected by sea walls to create a safe place to swim. You won’t have any waves or current in the swim area, making it a safe place for children to go into the ocean water. With some restaurants and bars along the promenade, a supermarket across the street and public showers and toilets, Calheta beach has all the ingredients for a relaxing beach day.
Read in this complete guide everything about Calheta beach
How to get to Calheta beach
Calheta beach is located on the south coast of Madeira about a 30 minute drive from Funchal. The beach is very accessible and easy to find on Google Maps. There are enough parking spots on the street, but you have to pay a little fee per hour for the parking. So make sure to bring some Euro coins for the parking as you can’t pay by card.
You can also get to Calheta by bus but it has limited services from Funchal to Calheta. Rodo Este bus company provides the public transport on Madeira Island and the routes you can take from Funchal are 80, 107 and 142. Expect it to be a long journey with stops along the way. The bus routes and latest timetable can be seen on the Rodo Este website.
Located in the capital of Madeira, Funchal, you can find Praia Formosa. The largest free public beach on the island is a mix of sand and pebble with lots of facilities around. A long promenade connects all the beaches and offers a great walk along the ocean without getting wet or sandy feet. The 2 kilometres long beach is surrounded by hotels, apartments and restaurants, so it might not feel as the most secluded natural beach in Madeira. But it definitely is a great spot to relax in Funchal and has great water quality, safe for a swim! But always be careful with the ocean in Madeira as on some days the current can be very strong.
Read in this complete guide everything about Praia Formosa
How to get to Praia Formosa
Praia Formosa is just a ten minutes drive away with the car from the city centre of Funchal. With public transport or bike it is also easy to reach the beach with a bus stop on a few meters away. The ‘Parque de Estacionamento’ is the main parking lot and is closest to all the restaurants and snack bars. You can also park one road further which gives you access to a more quiet area of the beach and closer to the tunnel. The parking at Beira Calhau is closest to the promenade and Praia Arieiro.
Prainha beach is one of the few (natural!) sandy beaches of Madeira and is surrounded on both sides with interesting rock formations and dunes. Located on the eastern part of Madeira Island, Prainha beach is maybe not the biggest beach of Madeira, but this cozy little bay with soft brownish black volcanic sand does give an intimate and secluded feel.
Surrounded by the Piedade Dunes, Prainha beach offers a lot of geological interest such as limestone fossils of geomorphologic interest. The landscape here is in big contrast to the landscapes on the rest of the island. In the area of Ponta de São Lourenço the shades of green are replaced by desert like views of orange, red and brown tones in the landscape.
Read in this complete guide everything about Prainha beach
How to get to Prainha beach
Prainha beach is located in Caniçal in the most eastern tail of Madeira, the area of Ponta de São Lourenço. The best way to get around in Madeira in general is with a rental car. You can easily park above Prainha beach from where you have stairs leading down to the beach. But if you are dependent on public transport you can get to Prainha beach with bus 113. From the parking lot you will see a path going down to the beach. But is also highly recommended to check out the dunes and walk to the viewpoints above the beach. From there you will have wonderful views on the Prainha bay and the interesting rock formations around. Can you spot all the caves in the rocks?
The beautiful bay of Machico has a great sandy beach of 125 metres long and about 70 meters wide. The sea walls protect the swim area from the ocean current and waves which makes it a very safe place to swim. Machico beach is definitely one of the nicest sandy beaches of Madeira and adds to the charm of the lovely historic town of Machico. Just like Calheta beach was the sandy beach of Machico also created by the Government who invested 3 million euros to important the sand from the Sahara desert!
There are enough facilities around at Machico beach such as changing rooms, showers, sun beds, parasols and plenty of car parks. Besides that you will also find restaurants, bars, football and volley ball practice area, pedal boats, jet skis and a harbour.
How to get to Machico beach
Machico is located on the southeast part of Madeira and the beach can be easily reached by car or bus 113 from Funchal. There are plenty of parking spots around so you don’t have to worry about that.
Praia da Maiata Porto da Cruz
The backdrop of this beach makes it for us one of our favourite beaches of Madeira. The iconic Penha de Águia mountain stands beautifully central on this beach which is, depending on the tide, a sandy beach or more a pebble beach. It may not be the best beach to have a relaxing beach day because there are no facilities around, only a simple shower. Also the ocean on this part of the island can be rough, so don’t go in the water if the current is too strong or the waves too big. We do think that this beach is an awesome photography spot though, and besides that the beach is also used by paragliders to land after a flight above Porto da Cruz.
How to get to Praia da Maiata
There is no public transport going to this part of Porto da Cruz so the best way to get here is by rental car or taxi. When you’re close to the beach, you will see signs along the road with Praia da Maiata on it.
Fajã dos Padres beach
Faja dos Padres is situated on a little peninsula below a huge cliff and serves as organic farm with restaurant and private beach. Doesn’t sound that as the perfect relaxing day on one of the Madeira beaches? The wide pebble beach of Fajã dos Padres offers in the corner at the restaurant sun beds and parasols for rent. Here you can also get in and out of the ocean by stairs attached to the pier. The restaurant serves organic ingredients from the garden and has an incredible view on the Atlantic Ocean. Because the beach is private and so secluded, it won’t be very busy here. Fajã dos Padres beach therefore is still a kind of hidden gem.
Read everything about Faja dos Padres organic farm & beach here
How to get to Faja dos Padres beach
Faja dos Padres is located on the south coast of the island in Quinta Grande on a 15 minute drive from Funchal. There are free parking spots available when you arrive at the cable car station. The easiest way is to get here is with a rental car or taxi.
Another option is to get to Faja dos Padres by boat. The boat “Malvasia” can carry up to 10 passengers and makes daily transfers from Funchal or from the nearby port of Camara de Lobos.
Reis Magos beach
Reis Magos beach is a small pebble beach located in Caniço de Baixo. Although it is a small beach, there are lots of facilities around. Free parking on the street, areas to play sport, access for the disabled and a lovely ocean view restaurant and bar. The crystal clear ocean water is very pleasant to swim in, and Reis Magos beach is also a perfect spot for snorkelling! Sun bed and parasols are for rent on the beach and during the peak season there are two lifeguards watching over the beach.
How to get to Reis Magos beach
Reis Magos beach is easy to reach by car with parking spots at the entrance. It is a 15 minute drive from Funchal, but if you don’t have a rental car you can also get there by bus. Take line 155 towards Zimbeiros and you’ll only have to walk a few minutes from the bus station to the beach.
Nestled at the base of the cliffs is Garajau beach, a lovely small pebble beach with crystal clear blue water. There are excellent scuba diving conditions here which attracts divers but also people who love snorkelling. The Garajau beach is located inside the Garajau Natural Partial Reserve and you can go down via cable car or along the winding road. There is a nice restaurant on the beach which serves drinks and food including a nice fresh fish platter.
On the beach you can rent a sun bed for €2 and a parasol for €1. There are also changing rooms, a picnic area and lifeguard available on Garajau beach.
How to get to Garajau beach
Garajau beach is located in Caniço and the entrance of the beach can be reached by cable car or when following the narrow winding road down until you reach the beach. A little note when descending down with your car, because the road is so narrow you almost can’t pass or see an oncoming car. So drive very slow and eventually use your horn here what the locals do as well to warm other road users. The parking is for free but the cable car is a small fee to use.
Ponta do Sol beach
The meaning of Ponta do Sol is sun point and that’s what you will definitely get here on a clear day! Ponta do Sol beach is hidden in a small cove in between the slopes of the valley and is only 160 meters long. The perfect small pebble beach is protected by sea walls which makes swimming here very safe. The crystal clear ocean water is very calm and in the summer months there is a lifeguard on site. There are changing rooms, showers and public toilets available here and lots of (paid) parking availability. With restaurants, bars and shops in the village you have all the conveniences you’ll need for a comfortable beach day.
How to get to Ponta do Sol beach
From Funchal its a 30 minute drive to Ponta do Sol with a car which is obviously also the best way to get to around on Madeira Island. There is no great bus connection to Ponta do Sol and getting around with the local buses takes a lot of time.
Jardim do Mar beach
Jardim do Mar has three beaches to choose from ; ‘Portinho’, ‘Enseada’ and ‘PontaJardim’. These small pebble beaches have the basic facilities you need such as parking, showers and a restaurant and bar nearby. Jardim do Mar itself is a surfers paradise and once a year there’s an International Surf Competition being held at this part of the island. If you want to observe the surfers, go to ‘Ponta Jardim’ where it is possible to see surfers’ almost all year round. If you’re coming to Jardim do Mar to relax on the beach, away from the busier Funchal beaches, you can choose from its three beaches, .
How to get to Jardim do Mar
Jardim do Mar is located on the south western part of the island past the town Calheta. From Funchal it takes about a 45 minute drive to get to Jardim do Mar, but without a rental car you can also reach this surfers town by bus with line 142 which will take you roughly 2,5 hours one way.
Paul do Mar beach
The small town of Paul do Mar is a little further to the west located next to Jardim do Mar. Paul do Mar beach is one of the most popular pebble beaches on the south western coast of the island, thanks to its relaxing atmosphere and beautiful landscape. Paul do Mar beach will never be overcrowded so it’s the perfect place for peace seekers and families. The most popular place of the beach is in front of the Maktub bar which is a Reggae Surf Bar where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset while having a mojito.
How to get to Paul do Mar beach
The best way to get to the west part of Madeira island is with a rental car. Public buses are going here, but it will take you a long time to get here and services don’t go that frequently. From Funchal it takes about 45 minutes to get to Paul do Mar, so you can make a nice day trip of it or stay for a few days in this area which is highly recommended!
Porto Santo beach
Porto Santo is a small island 43 kilometers off the coast of Madeira. It is also called the ‘golden island’ which is in Portuguese “Ilha Dourada” because of its 11 kilometres of golden sandy beaches that surround Porto Santo island. The beaches of Porto Santo even have therapeutic purposes due to the high amounts of iodine, calcium and magnesium in the sea water which contributes to health and relaxation. Besides that, the Porto Santo beaches are also perfect for water sports such as kiting, kayaking, swimming and of course relaxing!
Best natural swimming pools Madeira
Besides some of the best beaches of Madeira, the island also has something else to offer which are the Madeira Natural Pools! These lava pools are naturally filled with ocean water and can be found throughout the island. The most famous natural swimming pool in Madeira is definitely the Porto Moniz natural pools. But there are more options to be found on the island. Below a summary of the best Madeira natural pools.
Seixal natural pools
The Seixal Natural swimming pools are well worth a visit and easy to combine with a visit to Seixal Beach. This collection of natural lava rock pools is a great spot to hang out for a few hours and the entrance is free! You can explore many things here such as the caves, rock arches and the several natural pools. Bring your swimwear and enjoy this beautiful nature phenomenon! On a calm day the water inside the pools is perfectly still creating a beautiful reflection of the clouds, if there are any in the sky. These are the safest circumstances for swimming as there won’t be any waves crashing over the pool. But be aware on windy days with bigger waves. A dangerous situation might occur when the waves crash over the edge of the natural pools.
Read everything about the Seixal Natural Pools in our complete guide
Porto Moniz natural swimming pools
The most famous natural swimming pool of Madeira is without a doubt the Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools. These lava rock pools consist of several small lagoons with salty ocean water in it. This is a very family-friendly location with shallow pools for the kids and larger pools for the other guests. There is even a diving board into the ocean which is pretty awesome when the waves are calm. The complex is a combination of man made concrete floor and lava rocks and has many facilities such as changing rooms, showers, toilets and a restaurant. The entrance fee for the Porto Moniz natural pools is €1,50. Next to the paid natural pools there is another more natural lava pool which is free of charge. These are the Cachalote Natural Pools, on Google Maps also shown as Piscinas Naturais Velhas.
Read everything about the Porto Moniz natural pools in our complete guide
Doca do Cavacas beach complex
The Doca do Cavacas Swimming Complex is located in Funchal and only a few metres away from the well known Praia Formosa. This guarded beach complex with natural tidal lava pools offers sun beds, parasols and a bar is a great way to spend a sunny day in Funchal. There applies an entrance fee which is about €2,60.
Find more Funchal beaches in our complete guide
Lido Galomar bathing complex
This complex in Caniço is a combination of natural lava pools and regular pools with direct access to the ocean via stairs and ladder. This pleasant complex, protected by cliffs has an entrance fee of €6 per person including sun bed. The facilities here are well maintained and very clean and safe. Ideal for a kids activity on Madeira Island and also for disabled people easy to reach with a lift.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this full guide about the best Madeira beaches. For more Madeira travel inspiration and the must visit destinations, head over to our other blog posts about Madeira island.
50 best things to do in Madeira – The Ultimate Guide
40 best photo spots in Madeira – The Ultimate Guide
30 best viewpoints in Madeira – The Ultimate Guide
30 best hikes in Madeira – The Complete Guide
25 best things to do in Funchal – The Ultimate Guide
25 best waterfalls in Madeira – The Ultimate Guide
20 best levada walks in Madeira – The Complete Guide
20 best restaurants in Madeira – The Complete Guide
15 best sunrise viewpoints in Madeira – The Complete Guide
15 best sunset viewpoints in Madeira – The Complete Guide
12 best Funchal restaurants – The Complete Guide
All about Poncha – The Ultimate Guide about Madeira’s traditional drink
Hello ILse, thanks for sharing your info about all the beautiful beaches at Madeira. The pictures are beautiful, especially the one where you lay in the Porto Moniz Natural swimming pool is wonderful.