The Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike is a beautiful coastal hike on Madeira Island. It is one of the most popular hikes on Madeira as it can be easily a great family activity. There’s not much incline and the 7 kilometre out and back trail isn’t too heavy. This rugged coastal trail takes you along the volcanic cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço with stunning viewpoints along the way. You can perfectly combine this Madeira walk after watching sunrise at Ponta do Rosto, as hiking in Madeira during the morning is most advisable. Especially along this trail where there is no shade and shelter. But Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço can also be a great hike during afternoon to watch sunset afterwards. Read in this blog post everything you need to know about the Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço.

Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço key facts 

Before setting off to the Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike, below some key facts! 

Hike distance and duration: The total distance of Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço is 7 kilometres out and back which will take you about 2 to 3 hours. But you can also take a long break at the restaurant for lunch for example which will add up to the total hours spend at Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço.

Hike difficulty and incline: The Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço is not a steep or difficult hike with only a few hundred meters of incline along the trail. But the risky part is that the trail is completely open without any shelter, so on windy days it can be tricky. The path is mostly rocky and uneven so its important to pay attention to every step. There are some drop offs along the trail, but those parts are protected by a railing. We did this hike two times, and once it was super windy and not comfortable to walk. With hard winds we sometimes almost felt as if we could get blown away literally. So I would suggest to do this hike on a calm day when its not too hot because there is no shelter along the way. 

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How to get to Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike 

The Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike starts on the eastern tail of Madeira Island and is well marked on Google Maps. This rugged headland has a unique mars like landscape, completely different than the rest of Madeira Island. The trail starts at the roundabout where there is plenty of dedicated parking spots for your car. Most of the days there are food trucks that serve drinks, ice cream and simple snacks. There is also public transport going to the start of this trail, so if you don’t have a rental car that’s also an option to get to the trailhead of Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço. 

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Best time to do the Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike 

It is advisable to do this hike in the morning or afternoon. Simply because during midday it can get too hot along the trail as there is no shade or shelter. You also have to take into account that it can be super windy on the eastern tail, which is not ideal to hike. This can even be dangerous when the wind is super strong and you walk along one of the narrow parts with huge drop off. Always use your common sense while hiking in Madeira. And make sure to lace up your hiking boots for stability and grip! 

The landscape of Sao Lourenço also changes drastically during the months. After the summertime when it hasn’t been raining for a long time, you can expect the landscape to be orange brown. But after some rainy months, the eastern tail puts on its green jacket and changes in a completely different landscape! Grass grows and the contrast of the green blanket with the orange cliffs is beautiful. 

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What to expect at Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço 

The trail starts immediately on wooden decking through a grass section. You cross a bridge and from that part the trail changes into gravel. 

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Shortly after you’ve started the hike, you will be blow away by the impressive rock formations and incredible colours of the volcanic cliffs. The contrast with the orange brown cliffs and the clear blue ocean water is just phenomenal. We have never seen a landscape like this before! 

The views on the rock formation of the coastline and the erosion and different colours of the cliffs is just incredible. Because the São Lourenço peninsula is from volcanic origin, it mainly consists of basalt, although there are also some limestone sediment formations. The semi-arid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and explains the lack of trees here. 

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On a clear day you can see Desertas Islands to the South and to the north Porto Santo Island. Below of picture of Desertas Islands with a beautiful light spectacle.

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After the first kilometre you will reach the first viewpoint which is marked as Miradouro de São Lourenço on Google Maps. On the opposite of this viewpoint are stairs going down to the Praia São Lourenço if you want to cool down during or after the hike.

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Shortly after this part there is a section with stairs which is just a little incline. The views with the cliffs in front and behind you are just amazing.

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Take in all the incredible colours and textures of the cliffs which are formed by the volcanic activity from million years ago. It is truly impressive to see what nature can create. She is a true artist!

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Little break at Casa do Sardinha

At the end of the official trail there is a small cafe where you can order coffee and some other small snacks. It’s a perfect spot for a break before you head the same trail back. But there are stairs going up to the final viewpoint of the trail, called Miradouro Ponta do Furado. However, there is a sign at the start of the stairs that you can’t go further because of safety issues. We saw lots of people going further, and also tried it ourselves. There is not much risk in this part, but of course you always have to respect nature. So if you’re in for a final incline, then head to the last section and final viewpoint on the Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike.

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Precautions for levada walks and hiking in Madeira

For a safe hiking experience in Madeira it is important to take the following safety precautions. There have been accidents in Madeira on levada walks and in the mountains in the past, which doesn’t directly make hiking in Madeira dangerous. But you do always have to keep in mind that the weather in Madeira can change suddenly. Or that landslides take place, branches can fall or paths can be slippery. In case of any emergency you can call 112.

Below some of our tips for a safe Madeira hiking experience

  • Wear suitable clothes, always bring an extra jacket and put your hiking boots / shoes on with good grip.
  • Take enough water and some snacks with you such as nuts, (dried) fruits etc.
  • Always bring a headlamp on your hikes in Madeira because some of them include walking through a tunnel.
  • Take a whistle with you in case you get lost or slip from the path.
  • Book a qualified guide when you want to be sure on your first levada walk. Most of the levada walks are flat and easy, especially the well known levada’s in Madeira. You can find a detailed description in our blog about the 20 best levada’s in Madeira. But if you prefer a qualified guide next to you when walking in Madeira, you will not only learn more about the nature but you will also be 100% safe and don’t have to worry about navigating your way through the forest.
  • When hiking alone on Madeira, prepare yourself and collect all the updated information about the trail you plan to follow. Are the trails open? No landslides? On the website of Visit Madeira you can find the up to date info of the walks which are open and closed.
  • Calculate the time you’ll need to finish the hike so you’ll be back before dark.
  • Inform the hotel or accommodation you are staying which walk you are going to do.
  • Do not go off the designated path.

Happy hiking!!

Other things to do near Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike

As said earlier in this blog post, you can’t miss watching the sunrise at Ponta do Rosto viewpoint. This incredible viewpoint is located on the other side of Ponta de São Lourenço and is a fantastic photo spot. Of course you can also visit this viewpoint later during the day, but if you love a good sunrise then it’s highly recommended to plan first to go to Ponta do Rosto and then head to Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço. 

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Ponta do Rosto viewpoint

Another point of interest in the area is Prainha beach. You can eventually take your swimsuit and cool off at Prainha beach after the hike. This tiny beach is beautifully located in a cozy little bay with soft brownish black volcanic sand.

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Prainha beach