Pebbly vs sandy: 6 of the best beaches in Madeira

The Atlantic island of Madeira is known for many things - luscious vegetation, spectacular hiking trails and warming sunshine all year-round - but perhaps not its beaches.

Golden sand beach on Porto Santo Island, Madeira
Golden sand beach on Porto Santo Island, Madeira © Federico Neri -

With a rugged coastline and a varied mix of pebbly and sandy shorelines, it doesn't leap out as a leading beach holiday destination. However, if you look a little closer, you'll find a fine selection of beaches in Madeira for everyone from families with young kids to pro-surfers.

Getting to Madeira: a big hit from January to December, you'll find fabulous offers on holidays to Madeira with TUI*, which departs from London Gatwick, Bristol, East Midlands and Manchester.

Pebbly beaches in Madeira

Praia Formosa

There's 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 perfectly lovely. For example, situated just 10 minutes away from the island's capital, Funchal, is Praia Formosa.

This large pebble beach attracts many a sun worshiper during the summer months and is also a sought after destination for water sports lovers. Due to its central location, it's well-equipped, boasting lifeguards, changing rooms, snack bars and facilities for families.

Top tip: get the most out of a pebbly beach by packing a pair of water shoes, which are ideal for strolling, swimming and generally saving your feet!

Praia das Palmeiras

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

Qualified lifeguards supervise all children's activities, which means the adults can relax in the sun while the kiddies play. There is also an onsite restaurant and first aid centre for 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 watersports enthusiasts. 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 São Vicente.

Did you know? Madeira's northerly sibling Porto Santo is renowned for its long, golden beaches and worth considering if you're looking to indulge in a traditional beach break in this Atlantic island archipelago.

Sandy beaches in Madeira


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 'normal' beach. There are all the facilities you could need including the chance to try watersports such as windsurfing and canoeing.

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 sits conveniently close to a stretch of good restaurants, so it's ideal for a day trip from other parts of the island.

Ribeira Brava

Another sandy beach to the west of Funchal is the black-sand beach at Ribeira Brava, which also has a plentiful supply of bars and restaurants close by.

It has designated football and volleyball areas plus its own lifeguard and lifeboat. There are also various nautical activities available for those who want to do more than just take the sun.

Praia da Laje

Also known as Praia da Jamaica thanks to the large plantation of palm trees lining the route to the sea, Praia da Laje is a black sandy number 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.

Consequentially, Praia da Jamaica doesn't have the facilities that many other beaches offer. While this can be considered a good thing, it's worth noting to ensure you take any necessary supplies.

Other sandy beaches can be found at Prainha and Machico.

Weather in Madeira

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Don't forget, you can find out more about the weather in Madeira and when we think is the very best time to go to enjoy its eclectic mix of beaches.

Set for some sunbathing? Don't miss the latest deals, discounts and online offers from TUI on holidays to Madeira.

More about Madeira

Madeira by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Alexandra Glacet

Alexandra Glacet

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

Back to top

Explore holidays in the sun for less

Related posts

Back to Travel inspiration Top ^