Madeira island has some beautiful beaches to explore. Most of them are pebbled beaches or covered with huge rocks, but Calheta beach is the first imported sand beach in Madeira. Located in some of the sunniest parts of the island on the south coast, this place is the perfect spot to relax for a day. Calheta beach, also known as Praia da Calheta in Portuguese, consists of two beach areas. The sea walls protect the swim area from waves or sea currents, 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. We’ve stayed for 5 weeks in Calheta and visited the beach a few times. So here’s the complete guide you need!
How to get to Calheta beach
Calheta beach is located on the south coast of Madeira about a 30 minute drive from Funchal away. The beach is very accessible and easy to find on Google Maps and is located a little below street level. 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. If you want to park in a parking garage you can enter the one at Pingo Doce, which is the local supermarket. If you buy something at the Pingo Doce supermarket, you will get a 1 hour free parking ticket.
You can also get to Calheta by bus. But the bus 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.
What to expect at Calheta beach
Calheta beach is an artificial yellow sand beach in the village of Calheta with beautiful mountain view. It was openend in 2004 and was made by imported sand from Morocco. Calheta was with this project the first town in Madeira to import sand from Morocco.
Calheta Beach consists of two sides of sandy beach. The sea walls around both sides of the beach have formed a double sided bay. If you look from above, or fly the drone, the shape of Calheta Beach actually looks like a huge ship!
Both sides of Calheta Beach are about 100 meters long and the two sea walls give protection of waves and the current. But the sea walls also protect the sandy beach from being washed away by the ocean.
There is an option to rent sunbeds and umbrellas at the beach, but you can also just lay on your towel on the sand. You won’t feel any pressure to pay for something at the beach. But it’s nice to know that if you want a drink or lunch, the closest restaurants are only a few meters away!
Public toilets, showers and changing rooms are also available at the beach which makes it very convenient after swimming in the salty water. Calheta Beach is with all these facilities a safe and family friendly beach.
The two different sides of Calheta Beach
As mentioned before, Calheta Beach consists of two sides. The side of Savoy Calheta Beach Hotel has the biggest surface, but it can also be a bit busier. This huge property is one of the few Calheta Beach hotels with direct acces to the beach. The other facilities of the hotel are an outdoor pool, room service, private parking, the option for airport shuttle, a fitness center and an indoor pool. We haven’t stayed here, but based on the guests reviews about the super friendly staff it is worth to check out! For sure some of the best Calheta hotels located along the beach.
The other side of Calheta Beach is only accompanied by a beach bar called ‘Bar de Praia’. They serve great and affordable coffee, lunch and other dishes. On some days they have live music, and the free Wifi is a huge plus! It reaches all the way to the beach, ideal to stay connected during your time here!
Via the promenade you can walk along the Marina where you can also book all sorts of boat trips such as whale watching or fishing trips. And in the afternoon and during sunset the restaurants come to life giving this part of Calheta a vibrant vibe. Absolutely recommendable to visit this part of Madeira Calheta during your stay!
Swimming at Calheta beach
It is safe and very pleasant to swim at Calheta Beach with the calm and refreshing ocean water. You don’t have to worry here about being washed away by the waves or current. In between the two outer sea walls there are even nets attached to keep (big) fish away from the swimmers area. Lifeguards are also on duty, so if you’re for whatever reason in trouble during swimming, there is help close by.
There are actually three different ways to enter the ocean water. Of course via the two different beach sides, but you can also jump directly into the water from the promenade. Here you are immediately in a deeper area which makes swimming easier than the shallow water near the beach. The distance between the two beaches is long enough to swim hundreds of meters of laps in this protected area of water which makes it an ideal place for fanatic swimmers.
Facilities at Calheta beach
Besides relaxing and swimming at Calheta Beach, there are more activities to do around. There is a temporary massage tent, so if you’re in need you can ask for the options inside. As said before, the public toilets, showers and changing rooms are a huge plus! There is also a playground for children above the beach and ‘Bar de Praia’.
If you want to be active at Calheta Beach, it also offers a wide variety of nautical activities. You can go canoeing, windsurfing and there are catamaran rental services. For the scuba dive fanatics there is Calheta Diving Centre located along the promenade. Ask for the possibilities inside!
Walking along the promenade and Marina is a fun thing to do. At some of the shops you can book a whale watching tour and other boat trips. The restaurants are facilitated along the promenade and serve nice seafood and other options. They have a great view on the marina and a side view on the sunset! A perfect environment for dinner or a sunset stroll with your date or family!
Weather in Calheta
Calheta is known to be the sunniest part of Madeira. While some of the other parts of the island are battling the clouds, wind or even rain, in Calheta the sun is more often shining. We stayed in this part of the island for 5 weeks at the amazing Calheta Boutique Houses (adults only) and only had a few days of overast or rain. So be prepared for sunny days if you’re planning to stay in Calheta or spend a day at the beach.
Madeira webcam to check the weather
The weather varies a lot on Madeira, but luckily there is a website to check the current weather circumstances per section of the island. Go to the NetMadeira website and search for the place you want to have the live view from. Although not all spots on Madeira Island have a webcam, just like Calheta, you can always have a look at the closest village. For example, to know the most accurate weather for Calheta, check the webcams of either Paul do Mar or Ponta do Sol as those are the closest villages. Make sure to be prepared for four seasons in one day on Madeira. Due to the height difference on the island the weather can change quickly. So always bring a jacket or sweater in the car and short pants. Be prepared for everything!
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! For more travel tips about Madeira, read our other blog posts.