Praia Formosa is located in Funchal, the main capital of Madeira, and is the largest free public beach on the island. Praia Formosa actually consists of four beaches from which three are mixed with sand and pebbles. There are lots of facilities around such as restaurants, public toilets and showers, changing rooms and a lifeguard. A long promenade connects all the beaches and offers a great walk along the ocean without getting wet feet. Praia Formosa and its promenade are a lovely spot to spend some relax time or to do a little sunset walk. Find in this blog post all the things you need to know about Praia Formosa and the three other beaches!


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. There are several parts of Praia Formosa so it depends to which parking lot you have to go for the part you have in mind to go to. 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.

Below I’ve attached a map with the different parking spots to the several parts of the beach.

What to expect at Praia Formosa

Praia Formosa Beach is about 2 kilometres long and is mixture between pebble beach and black lava sand. The location is on the edge of the main city of Madeira, Funchal. Therefore it might not feel as the most secluded nature beach in Madeira. For an experience like that, you have to go to Seixal beach along the north coast of the island. There you’ll find a naturally soft black sand beach.

In the backdrop of Praia Formosa you will see apartment complexes and hotels. A lot of concrete, and just a few palm trees. There are some spots along the beach where sand overrules the pebbles. But most of it is covered in pebbles.


The ocean water is from a very good quality but the waves can be rough sometimes. So in terms of the most comfortable and beautiful beach in Madeira, Praia Formosa might not be THE very best option. But for a sunset walk along the promenade it is a great city beach. Or when you can get used to lying on pebbles, then there’s no reason to drive further for a quick ocean dip or sunbathing session.


Different parts of Praia Formosa

Praia Formosa is actually divided in four separate beach areas. Known as Praia Nova, Praia Formosa, Praia dos Namorados and Praia do Arieiro. At the last named beach is the Hotel Orca located. This small black sand beach is separated from the other beach areas and gives a bit of a more secluded feel. This is also the only part of this beach area with comfortable sand. The other parts mainly have pebbles.


Another fun part along the beach is the huge rock that sticks out like a V shape. You can climb this rock to watch the sunset from for example. It’s a fun photo spot and a lovely place to get a bit more quality time.

Facilities at Praia Formosa

Maybe it’s because Praia Formosa is located in the city centre of Funchal, but the beach has many great facilities to make your experience as good as possible. You will find changing rooms, showers and public toilets. But also a medical centre, a kindergarten for children between 2 and 12 years old, several snack bars and restaurants, and a few dedicated areas for sports practice. Not to forget about the beautiful promenade that connects Funchal all the way to Câmara de Lobos. More about that later in this blog post.


Restaurants at Praia Formosa

If you’re in for a sunset dinner or lunch along the beach, then there are some great options along Praia Formosa. You can find Beira Calhau and Barra Azul but also Praia Formosa restaurante which offers a wide variety of local dishes and a lovely setting. A bit further towards the east side of Praia Formosa is Docas cafe located.  If you want to dine on the cliffs above the beach, then I can definitely recommend you to try Aconchego. With amazing views on the Atlantic Ocean and sunset, this is a perfect bar to drink a sunset cocktail if you’re not particularly fancy to sit right on the beach.


Tunnel of Praia Formosa

Located on the east side of the beach there is tunnel that connects this last part of Praia Formosa to Poças do Gomes (Doca do Cavacas) which is a small bathing complex. The tunnel is open every day from 8 AM to 10 PM. But due to storms or heavy rain damage can occur which can lead to closing the tunnel. If it’s open then it’s a fun activity to walk through if you’re close by anyway.


If you want to experience the Poças do Gomes (Doca do Cavacas) natural pools you have to pay the entrance of €2,60. Here you can rent sun beds and parasols or lay your towel on the concrete ground. The pools might feel a bit outdated, but it still is a fun way to experience one of the many natural pools on Madeira island. But if I would recommend you some of the best natural pools of Madeira island, then you have to visit the Porto Moniz natural Pools and Seixal Natural Pools.


Praia Formosa Promenade from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos

On the most western side of Praia Formosa the promenade to Câmara de Lobos finds it way. Here you can walk on concrete and on the walkway along the ocean. It’s a perfect sunset walk route which is why you’ll see many locals strolling along, doing their daily walk with the dog or enjoying the last rays of sunlight. If you’re based in Funchal this is definitely a must do!


More beaches in Madeira

Madeira might not be the perfect beach destination as most of the beaches on the island are pebbled beaches. So where to find the best beaches in Madeira? If you want to have an extended review and tips about where to find the best beaches in Madeira, then head over to this complete guide – Best beaches in Madeira.

For a quick overview, have a look at our following suggestions.

Calheta beach

Calheta beach is located on the sunny south western side of Madeira Island in the town Calheta. It is the first imported sandy beach in Madeira and has a few nice bars and restaurants along its promenade. The waters of Calheta beach are protected by sea walls which creates a safe swim area for all ages away from waves or sea currents.

Read more about Calheta beach here


Seixal beach

Located along the north coast of Madeira, Seixal beach is a beautiful black sand beach accompanied by high green cliffs. Because the beach is facing north east, it is also a perfect spot to watch the sunrise in summer season. Other great activities to do here are surfing, sunbathing or swimming in the natural pools behind Seixal beach. Close to Seixal beach you’ll also find the Veu da Noiva waterfall which is a must visit!

Read more about Seixal beach here


Prainha beach

Prainha beach is one of the few (natural!) sandy beaches in Madeira. It is located in the eastern tail of the island and is surrounded by interesting orange rock walls and the Piedade Dunes. The incredible textures and many caves and holes to explore are some of the fun things to do here. The landscape here is in such a big contrast of green Seixal beach! Although Prainha beach is not the biggest beach, it does have a very cosy feel with its secluded bay and fun beach club.

Read more about Prainha beach here


Machico beach

Machico beach is another man made sandy beach in Madeira. The golden sandy beach is a beautiful stretch of soft sand created with imported sand from the Sahara desert. The beach has changing rooms, showers, football and volley ball areas, pedal boats, jet skis, sun beds, parasols and enough parking spots. It’s a great spot for a swim as the waters of Machico beach are protected by sea walls, just like Calheta beach. This gives beach goers a safe swim experience without the hassle of waves and the current.