As we went for a ride by car we found some places in the South coast which deserve particular attention: the cliff of CaboGirão and its thrilling viewpoint, the giant statue of Jesus Christ in Garajau… It’s also the recommended one by the islanders to see the sunsets, and there are a lot of little and peaceful fishing towns, like Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava.
Viewpoint of Cabo Girão
Cabo Girão is on the coastal town of Câmara de Lobos. According to the local guides, it has the highest cliff in Europe, but I’m not really sure about that. Anyway, the viewpoint with glazed floor, which is 580 m. above the sea, is totally worth visiting.
The cape is 15 km from Funchal. You’ll arrive after 3 or 4 km. by the road which splits off from the main highway and crosses the village and some housing estates. Everything is properly signposted. At the entrance you’ll find a parking area from where you can reach the viewpoint after a two-minute walk. There is a bar and a public toilet, too.
The views are truly amazing, although in Madeira there’s always a thin mist which makes the photos less clear. Nonetheless, it’s not appropriate for people who feel dizziness.
GPS coordinates: 32.657136, -17.004638
Cristo Rei de Garajau
The statue of Cristo Rei de Garajau is in the South Coast, too. It’s an enormous sculpture of Jesus Christ, on the cape of the same name.
There is a way which goes from the statue to the end of the cape. It has 250 steps until the border of the cliff, but it’s not as high as the previous one.
There is a parking area at the entrance with bar and public toilets, and there is also a cableway that goes down to the pebble beach. It’s not possible to reach this place by car, unless you stay at the hotel that you’ll find there.
GPS coordinates: 32.638632, -16.850713
Ponta do Sol is a little coastal village where the tourists gather to see the sunset. However this town is too little to hold many vehicles, so you must leave the car almost outside the village and walk at least 1 km to arrive to the beach. Of course, I don’t recommend this place at all.
The truth is that the entire South and South West coast is pretty well oriented to see the sunsets. You just have to move away from any urban area by some coastal road (remember, avoid the highways) until you find a place where you can park the car and enjoy the sunset, if the weather is good. There are some interesting places between Ponta do Sol and Calheta.
GPS coordinates: 32.679673, -17.104786
Other points of interest
The South coast of Madeira has some traditional fishing villages where you can walk, stare at the sea, eat at very good restaurants and go to the pebble beaches. Câmara de Lobos, Ribeira Brava, Calheta y Jardim do Mar are the most famous ones.
Oddity: the landing strip of the airport of Funchal is above a stretch of highway. So it’s possible that you can see a plane landing or taking off, side by side to your car.