Madeira Beaches: Where to find the pebble and sandy beaches

Let's face it, when you think of Madeira you don't necessarily think of beaches. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the beauty of this unique island presents itself inland, with its luscious vegetation and wildlife conservation. However, if you look a bit closer, you will find a selection of Madeira beaches, of varying degrees of 'sandiness'.

Madeira Beaches: Where to find the Pebble and Sandy Beaches
Madeira Beaches: Where to find the Pebble and Sandy Beaches

Madeira beaches: pebble vs sandy

Okay, so it's not a beach bums dream, with miles of untouched white sand (for that you'd need to head to Madeira's smaller neighbour, Porto Santo), but there are places to take the sun and have a dip in the sea, you just need to know where to look!

Pebble Madeira Beaches

Praia Formosa

There is no getting away from the fact that the majority of Madeira's beaches are pebbled, this is not to say, however that they aren't lovely. Situated just 10 minutes away from central Funchal is Praia Formosa.

Praia Formosa, Madeira © Francisco Correia - Turismo da Madeira

This large pebble beach attracts many a sun worshiper during the summer months, it is also a sought after destination for water sport lovers. Due to its central location, it is well equipped and boasts a medical centre, lifeguards, changing rooms, snack bars and even a kindergarten.

Praia das Palmeiras

This popular beach is a must for anyone with fun seeking children. Praia das Palmeiras offers free plastic toys for its younger visitors as well as a treasure island with its own climbing area.

Praia das Palmeiras, Madeira © crimson -

Qualified lifeguards supervise all children's activities, which means the adults can relax in the sun while the kiddies play. There is also an on-site restaurant and first aid centre to give peace of mind.

Jardim do Mar

Encompassing three stunning beaches (Portinho, Enseada and Ponta Jardim), Jardim do Mar is ideal for windsurfers and surfers alike. As the beach is without the facilities found elsewhere, the majority of its visitors are water sports enthusiasts.

Beach near Jardim do Mar, Madeira © Yvann K -

The area has also played host to both Red Bull and ISA Championship surfing events in recent years. Other pebble beaches can be found at Ponta do Sol, Madalena do Mar and Sao Vicente.

Sandy Madeira Beaches


If it really is sand you want, take a trip to the man made beach at Calheta, to the west of the capital Funchal. The golden sand was imported from Morocco and mainland Portugal to give Madeira its first 'typical' beach. The area has all the facilities you could need including the chance to try watersports such as windsurfing and canoeing.

Praia da Calheta, Madeira © Turismo da Madeira

As you can imagine the beach at Calheta can become very crowded at weekends and during holidays, so if it's privacy you're after try visiting during the week. Calheta beach sits conveniently close to a stretch of good restaurants, so it is ideal for day trip from other parts of the island.

Ribeira Brava

Another sandy beach to the west of Funchal is Ribeira Brava beach. Although the sand here is black and punctuated with courser materials, it is situated in a sort after area, near bars and restaurants.

Praia Ribeira Brava, Madeira © Turismo da Madeira

It has designated football and volleyball areas and is easily accessed. Ribeira Brava beach has its own lifeguard and lifeboat with nautical activities available for those who want to do more than just take the sun.

Praia da Jamaica

Given its name due to the large plantation of palm trees lining the route to the sea, Praia da Jamaica is a black sandy beach that's well worth a visit. Situated on the north of the island, the beach is a tranquil hideaway for those wanting to escape the run of the mill beach experience.

Praia da Jamaica, Madeira ©Francisco Correia - Turismo da Madeira

As a consequence of its locality Praia da Jamaica doesn't have the facilities that many other beaches offer, to some this may be a good thing, but it is worth taking into account before your visit. Other sandy beaches can be found at Prainha and Machico.

Away from Madeira Beaches

In addition to the numerous beaches scattered around the island, Madeira also possesses a variety of bathing complexes, some of which are new or recently renovated, offering first class facilities and swimming pools.

For the latest deals on holidays to Madeira visit First Choice, TUI and Jet2holidays. If you've visited Madeira before tell us which beach you went to and join the conversation.

Alexandra Glacet

Alexandra Glacet
Posted on Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in: Beach Europe Nature

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