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The 7 Best Resorts on the Island of Madeira

Photo taken by Anna, Michal.  Madeira

This top 7 list will be of use to everyone going on vacation to the wonderful Island of Madeira, situated in the faraway expanses of the Atlantic Ocean.


Aerial view of Funchal by night, Madeira Island, Portugal
Photo taken by  Aerial view of Funchal by night, Madeira Island, Portugal

The capital of Madeira greets its visitors not just with historical heritage, but also with an especially large amount of water entertainment. Here you’ll be able to go diving in the clear waters of the coastline (visibility here is roughly 3-8 m), slice the ocean on a surfboard and participate in extreme swimming contests, organized in mountain rivers near the capital. You can also go whale and dolphin watching on the open waters for an afternoon or even an entire day.

Tourists are also advised to try the city’s golf courses, go hiking on specialised paths or ride SUVs and ATVs. As befits a large city, the bars and night clubs of Funchal only come to life in the evening. At night, as the island is often visited by youths from mainland Portugal who come here at weekends, the city centre can become really noisy.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Promenade, Madeira
Photo taken by  Santa Cruz Promenade, Madeira

This tiny resort, located near the island’s main airport in the east, is an excellent place for quiet rest and a day spent in the water. Even though the city is among Madeira’s bigger settlements, it’s much less noisy than Funchal. Here you’ll find several parks, cosy Old Town streets with cafés and a number of local stores.

The Santa Cruz Water Park offers a great opportunity to have fun for those who’ve come to Madeira with their families. The park can hold up to a 1,000 people at a time. Here you’ll find five waterslides designed to be used on car tires and four “fast” slides.


Calheta, Madeira
Photo taken by Nuno Luz.  Calheta, Madeira

The little town of Calheta, located in the southwestern part of the island, is one of only two places in Madeira offering recreational opportunities on golden sandy beaches. The sand was brought here from mainland Portugal and Morocco and used to form two artificial beaches.

During summer weekends, finding an empty spot on Calheta’s beaches is quite a difficult task, which is why tourists are best advised to come here on weekdays.

While out sightseeing, we recommend you visit one of the city’s seafood restaurants, try some local white rum or the local Poncha, which consists of rum, freshly squeezed citrus fruit juice and honey.


Machico, Madeira
Photo taken by Allie Caulfield.  Machico, Madeira

This small city, home to around 10,000 people, was Madeira’s first capital. The locals are proud of its 15th-century churches and military fortifications, while tourists sure appreciate the island’s second sandy beach. Even though it’s smaller than the one in Calheta, it still offers excellent conditions for swimming and enjoying the sun.

The coastline also has a beach volleyball and football courts, changing cabins and a bar. Truth be told, however, weekends here get very busy, as the beach is a favourite with the locals. The city of Machico is also one of Madeira Island’s two best places for deepwater diving.

Canico de Braixo

Hotel Riu Palace Madeira
Photo taken by hotel riu.  Hotel Riu Palace Madeira

Canico, located just 15 km by car from Funchal on Madeira’s sunny southern coast, is rapidly becoming popular with tourists. This ancient, traditional village with its market square and 18th-century Baroque church is one of the oldest settlements of Madeira. The market square becomes especially lively during Sundays.

Moving down 2 km on the winding road that leads to the ocean you’ll find the modern Canico de Braixo resort with its luxury hotels and villas, indoor swimming pools and restaurants. The rocky local coastline is quite different from the usual beaches.

Canico de Baixo has as many as three diving schools and a whale museum.

Ponta Delgada

Fresh exotic fruits
Photo taken by  Fresh exotic fruits

This little village, situated on Madeira’s Northern shores, will charm you with its spectacular views of both the mountains and the ocean. It’s an excellent place for quiet, romantic rest.

The local water entertainment complex has two sea pools, a sunbathing space with an astounding view of the ocean, a bar, several changing booths and first aid equipment.

Since the main commercial undertaking here is agriculture, Ponta Delgada has quite the abundance of fresh products, the local-beloved embroideries and woven artefacts.


Scuba Diving in Garajau park, Madeira
Photo taken by Malcolm Browne,  Scuba Diving in Garajau park, Madeira

Garajau is an especially picturesque village, located on Madeira’s sunny southwestern coast near Canico and a little to the east from Funchal. An idyllic vacation here is guaranteed by a pleasant climate and warm and calm Atlantic waters of the local bay, located on the territory of a water reserve.

Garajau is quite famous for its clifftop statue of the Christ, which is a smaller version of the monument that became the symbol of Rio de Janeiro. But the resort is best known for Garajau’s Nature Reserve – an ideal place for diving.

Comments (1)

Katik Jake   3 years ago  Edited
This article is very interesting and helpful for me. A few years ago, I visited Madeira and I really enjoyed this place. Canico de Braixo resort is my favorite resort of island.