The most popular hike of Porto Santo Island is PR1 Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Chã. This trail leads you partly through a small forest and along the coast to the second-highest peak on the island, Pico Branco. At a certain point, the route splits in two trails from where you can go to another viewpoint called Terra Chã. This is the most stunning viewpoint of both with stunning coastal views surrounded by trees. Fun fact is that this part of Porto Santo is the greenest on the island!
The Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike is just 5 kilometre out and back with a little more than 300 meters incline. With Terra Chã viewpoint facing north east, it is also a perfect early morning hike to watch the sunrise at the viewpoint. Read in this blog post everything you need to know about the Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike on Porto Santo Island.
Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike key facts
Before setting off to the Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike, below some key facts.
Hike distance and duration:If you visit both viewpoints the total distance of the hike is 5 kilometres for the round trip. This will take you about 2 hours including some time at the viewpoints to enjoy the view.
Hike difficulty and incline: The hike is not difficult and without danger because the paths are well maintained and there is a fence throughout the hike. The incline is only 330 meters so therefore this hike is suitable for every age.
How to get to Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike
The starting point of the hike is easy to find as its one of the two official hikes on Porto Santo. Located on the northern part of the island, you will see the red yellow sign next to the road. There is a parking at the base of the hike so you can park your vehicle safely.
What to expect at the Vereda do Pico Branco & Terra Cha hike
The complete trail is partly along the coast and through a forest which is a fun contrast to the rocky, orange and earthy colours that you usually see on Porto Santo. The first part of the hike winds around the hill on a gravel, rocky landscape. But halfway the hike, the scenery starts to change. At the intersection you can choose to either first go to Terra Chã, or Pico Branco. It might depend on your timing, because for sunrise you definitely first want to get to Terra Chã! Which is what we did, and what I would definitely want to recommend you to do as well.
Sunrise at Terra Chã
If you’re planning to hike in the dark to watch sunrise at Terra Chã, you certainly need to bring a headlamp. The path is at some points uneven but there is always a fence along the trail. At the last part of the path to Terra Chã, you’ll walk in a small forest with coastal views. Here you can also see the typical Dragon Tree!
Make sure to arrive about an hour before sunrise at the parking so you give yourself enough time to hike up to the viewpoint. We had a bit of a cloudy morning so unfortunately we didn’t really see the sunrise, but we still got some nice moody coastal views.
When you’ve finished exploring Terra Chã viewpoint and made your photos, it’s time to head back to the intersection. From here you can make your way to the second highest peak of the island, Pico Branco. Enjoy the wonderful coastal views along the way with some beautiful hidden bays and rugged cliffs.
The hike to Pico Branco
Once arrived back at the intersection, it’s only a 400 meters extra to the summit of Pico Branco. After you’ve been to Terra Chã with sunrise, it’s fun to explore this viewpoint as well. But to be honest, Pico Branco is not as nice as Terra Chã viewpoint! The summit area of Pico Branco is a bit bare and the views are not as good as at Terra Chã. But still it’s only 400 meters further so it’s worth it to add this viewpoint to the hike as well.
Precautions for levada walks and hiking on Porto Santo
For a safe hiking experience on Porto Santo it is important to take the following safety precautions. There have been accidents in Madeira and Porto Santo on hikes in the past, which doesn’t directly make hiking in Porto Santo dangerous. But you do always have to keep in mind that the weather on Porto Santo 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 Porto Santo 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.
- Take a whistle with you in case you get lost or slip from the path.
- When hiking alone on Porto Santo, 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.
Best tours on Porto Santo
If you want to explore the best of Porto Santo, then it is highly recommended to book a guided tour. Your guide can tell you everything about the flora and fauna, you can’t get lost and you don’t have to worry about any preparation except the right shoes and clothing, All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Pirates and Corsairs Guided Island Tour on Porto Santo. Explore Porto Santo on a guided island tour. Uncover the legacy of pirates and corsairs as well as daily island life. Visit highlights, including Calheta beach and the sand dunes in a comfortable van.
- Kayak Tour from Ponta Calheta. Embark on a kayaking tour from Ponta Calheta and discover the beautiful volcanic coastline and landscapes along the coast of Porto Santo.
- Night Snorkeling Tour Porto Santo. Explore the underwater world at night on a guided snorkeling tour and discover marine creatures which are usually not seen during daylight hours.
- Snorkeling Tour Porto Santo during the day. Discover underwater species with a guided snorkeling activity in the Marine Protected Area of Porto Santo.
More Porto Santo travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Verda do Pico Branco and Terra Chã hike on Porto Santo island.
For more inspiration on things to do on Porto Santo, head over to our other guides.
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