Northern Madeira road trip!

Location: Madeira, Portugal

Itinerary duration: 1 day

Places of note: Cabanas de São Jorge, Ponta Delgada, Seixal & Porto Moniz

The island of Madeira is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on Earth! The northern side of the island is by far my favourite since it's basically a tropical paradise. Old winding roads lead you around steep cliffs to little villages, hidden black sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Swim in natural rock pools, search for waterfalls or simply admire the sea views - that's the mission of this 1 day itinerary, hope you enjoy!

A. Caniçal
My family and I stayed in Caniçal during our time in Madeira. Since Porto Moniz is almost on the opposite side of the island, this drive would be across the entire northern side of Madeira. From Caniçal, we headed north to Santana but instead of going into the village, we drove onwards to São Jorge. 

This trip is possible from Funchal, where you could either drive 30 minutes to Caniçal and follow my route in 1 day OR you could split this trip into 2 days and travel via Ribeira Brava on the VE4 (then on day 1 head west to Seixal & Porto Moniz, and on day 2 head east to Ponta Delgada, Cabanas de São Jorge & maybe Santana).

B. Cabanas de São Jorge

As you drive along the coast from Santana towards the west, you'll come across this little village. It has a viewpoint (miradouro) with the most spectacular views! There was also a friendly local selling fruit nearby - not only did the fruit taste delicious, they were massive in size. We also tasted a Madeiran pineapple-like fruit that even required a special technique to get out. This tasty experience, coupled with amazing views like the one above, was a great start to our day. Cabanas de São Jorge seemed tucked away from tourists' reach and we were so glad to have found it!

C. Ponta Delgada

Before your descent to Ponta Delgada, be sure to stop along the road and admire the incredible views (pictured above). It's just so beautiful! We drove down into the village to see the church and view of the sea from the swimming pool area, although we didn't stay here for long. The church houses statue, which was found floating at sea in the 16th century. When the church burnt down in the early 1900s, the statue was found completely intact. 

D. Seixal (Praia da Laje)

After Ponta Delgada, we decided to drive to Seixal. This is by far our favourite village on the entire island! It's got a tropical vibe to it with black sandy beaches, beautiful blue waters and even a waterfall flowing from the mountain into the sea! On this stop, we visited Praia da Laje otherwise known as Jamaica Beach. Snorkelling here is a must because the water is crystal clear blue! You can just jump in from the rocks in front of the café. Around the corner, you'll find the black sand beach with more incredible views and inviting waters.

E. Porto Moniz

We then drove a short distance along the coast to Porto Moniz, which is famous for its natural lava rock pools. The rock pools looked great to swim in even though there's an entrance fee. The surrounding area also looked beautiful. However, on that specific day there were so many tourists here that we chose to rather go back to Seixal for a more authentic experience. Next time though, we will definitely explore more of Porto Moniz!

F. Seixal (Praia do Porto do Seixal)

Back to Seixal, this time stopping at Praia do Porto do Seixal, which has its own natural rock pool and another black sand beach. Not only do you have a soft sandy beach to relax on or a natural rock pool to swim in, there's also a little waterfall flowing onto the beach (pictured above) and a huge waterfall in the distance flowing from the mountain into the sea! Last but not least, there's a little diving platform for the adventurous kind wanting to jump into the natural pool. A wonderful place and beaching experience!

G. São Vicente

On our way back, we stopped in São Vicente - where you can visit the volcanic caves and centre. We did not do the tour but rather made note of where it was. We then drove back to Caniçal via the VE4 and Funchal, which is much quicker than driving all the way back along the northern coast.