With the sole exception of Praia da Calheta’s imported golden sand, Madeira’s beaches consist mainly of volcanic black sand and smooth pebbles periodically indenting the towering cliffs that almost encircle the island.
In addition, nature-sculpted rock swimming pools and man-made lidos edged with a variety of holiday amenities allow easy access to Madeira’s crystal clear waters.
The best beaches and bathing areas in Madeira, include…
Relax on either one of Calheta’s two man-made golden-sand beaches, which face each other across a calm lagoon protected by two long rock breakwaters.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, a first aid centre and changing rooms.
The adjacent marine boasts a range of water sport activities, including canoes, catamarans and windsurfing boards for hire. Bars and seafood restaurants are a short stroll away along a palm-fringed promenade.
Although less than 100m wide, both beaches provide soft golden sand imported mainly from Morocco and Figueira da Foz in Portugal.
Nestled beneath a dramatic vegetation-clad mountain range dotted with red-roofed villas, Calheta is one of Madeira's top beach holiday destinations. Come on a day trip from Funchal or stay longer at the luxurious 4-star Hotel Calheta Beach.
Praia da Calheta in located on the southwest coast around 26km east of Funchal.
Surfers will appreciate the three adjoining black-pebble beaches of Enseada, Ponta Jardim and Portinho. The waters here are famous for strong waves and excellent year-round wind surfing and surfing conditions.
The beach nestles beneath a massive mountain range near the small village of Jardim do Mar, which sits on a small plateau jutting into sea on the southwest coast of Madeira, around 10km west of Calheta.
Enjoy a refreshing dip in these picture-perfect, naturally formed volcanic rock pools that fill at high tide with crystal clear turquoise seawater and are overlooked by the steep slopes of a verdant mountain range.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, lifeguards, a first aid centre, a kindergarten, changing rooms with lockers, a dive centre and facilities for the disabled. Ladders attached to immense lava rocks provide easy access to and from the sea for those who prefer to swim in the open ocean.
A selection of cafés, bars, restaurants and shops are just a short stroll away. Come for a day or stay longer at the nearby Hotel Euro Moniz.
Port Moniz is located on the northwest coast around 48km from Funchal.
Unwind on this black-sand beach or swim in natural rock pools surrounded by towering black lava cliffs and green mountains in a setting of stunning natural beauty.
Facilities include changing rooms, lifeguards and nearby restaurants. Praia da Jamaica is located between Seixal and Porto Moniz on the north coast.
Choose from two swimming pools at this man-made lido just minutes away from the capital, Funchal, on the south coast.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, lifeguards, a first aid centre, a kindergarten, changing rooms with lockers and a children’s pool with a sandy play area.
A cliff-face promenade leads to a choice of nearby cafés, bars, restaurants and several hotels with spectacular views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Pick a spot to sunbathe on this 1.2km-long black sand and pebble beach that nestles beneath lava cliffs overlooking Pestana Bay, just 10 minutes drive from Funchal city centre.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, lifeguards, a first aid centre, a kindergarten and changing rooms with lockers.
Water sports include windsurfing and kite surfing. A seafront promenade leads to a selection of snack bars, restaurants and nearby hotels including the Hotel Regency Palace.
This small, 150m-long black-sand beach offers swimming in crystalline water and a choice of restaurants and bars.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers and lifeguards. Go swimming or join the locals in a game of beach volleyball or soccer.
Ribeira Brava is just 15 minutes drive along the south coast from Funchal.
Choose to sunbathe and swim from either a black-pebble beach or man-made golden-sand beach that sits on the eastern side of a rock breakwater facing mountain-framed Machico Bay.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, showers, changing rooms, toilets, a children’s swimming pool, a first aid centre and lifeguards.
An area is reserved for soccer and beach volleyball. Water sports include pedal boats, sailing, jet skis and fishing trips. A promenade leads to several cafés, bars and restaurants in the historic red-roofed village of Machico.
Beyond the beach, play a round of golf at the Campo de Golfe or follow hiking trails along the coast – try the popular trail from Largo dos Milagros to the Pico do Facho cliffs, which offers stunning coastal views.
Machico is located on the east coast close to Madeira Airport, around 30km from Funchal.
Swim in the crystal clear waters that lap this narrow, 20m-long stretch of black sand and stone beach surrounded by green hills and soaring cliffs.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, changing rooms, a first aid centre and lifeguards.
A beachfront promenade leads to a selection of bars, restaurants and hotels, including the luxurious beachfront Hotel Riu Palace and Four Views Oasis.
Praia de Reis Magos is located in Canico, along the southeast coast.
Latest update: Best Beaches in Madeira: 1 December, 2019
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