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Hike the PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
A quick overview
What to see? Cliffs, mountains, flowers, viewpoints, and beaches.
Costs? Completely for free!
Where? The northeast coast of Madeira, Portugal
Worth it? If you like nature, then YES!
What is Ponta de São Lourenço Madeira
Ponta de São Lourenço is a volcanic peninsula on the northeast coast of the Portuguese island Madeira. Ponta de São Lourenço is about 7 kilometres long and located outside the small town of Caniçal. It’s a popular place to hike, as the viewpoints are simply stunning! You can walk until about halfway through the peninsula. In the end, you’ll be able to see the island Ilhéu da Cevada and the lighthouse Farol da Ponta de São Lourenço, which is located on the island Ilhéu do Farol.
PR 8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
The hike on the peninsula is known as route PR 8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço. It’s a 3.6-kilometre long walk and 3.6 kilometres back. It’s a point-to-point hike, with the possibility of a variation in the middle. The hike is known for its beautiful seascapes, rugged cliffs, and stunning viewpoints. It can be pretty windy here, and there are zero shelters from the sun. Always bring sunscreen, a raincoat, or whatever the weather in Madeira is doing during your visit! During your hike, you can stop at Casa do Sardinha for a drink or a bite to eat, and you can visit a beach for a dip into the sea. The 7.2-kilometre return journey will take 2 to 3 hours to complete. This hike has an elevation of 417 meters, making the PR8 a moderate classed hike. The rest of the walk is pretty easy and straightforward.
The WalkMe Madeira App
It’s pretty hard to get lost along Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço, but the WalkMe Madeira App is your best friend on the island! The app will provide you with current information and reviews of the hike, and the GPS points are easy to navigate the trails. All Madeira hikes are accessible for a small fee on the app. So if you’re going to discover more levadas and routes, it’s well worth the investment.
What to bring on your hike to Ponta de São Lourenço?
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço is relatively easy, but good walking boots are advisable as the loose gravel can be slippery. Primarily to protect your ankles and prevent falls. Hiking poles are optional, but if you have them, please bring them! Depending on the weather, you’ll need to protect yourself from the sun, wind, or rain. Think sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, a raincoat, swimwear, a sweater etc. The weather in Madeira can change quickly, so it’s always good to be prepared for any situation. Bring enough water and snacks. Or enjoy a picnic on the beach and go for a swim. There is a restaurant where you can order a meal and drink something but check opening times beforehand if you rely on it. Haven’t walked in a while? Maybe bring some bandaids too!
The starting point of Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
Ponta de São Lourenço is not far from the village of Caniçal. The hike starts about 5 kilometres away from the town. The GPS coordinates are 32°44’35.7 “N – 16°42’03.9 “W.
What will you see along the trail of Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço?
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço is a bit hilly but doable for beginners. The trail is very well-marked and easy to follow. One of the first viewpoints shows a marvellous view over D’Abra Bay and Praia de São Lourenço. From Miradouro de São Lourenço, you’ll enjoy views over the rugged northern coastline of Madeira. Rocks emerge from the sea, a clear contrast from the calm seas of the southern shores. In the distance, you’ll be able to spot Gorilla Rock, Ponta do Castelo, and lava trails from former eruptions thousands of years ago.
The last part of the hike is the hardest. But don’t stop yet… the view from the top is sooooo worth it! It’s a short but pretty steep climb. Just take it easy and steady, and you’ll get there. The path here is a bit outdated, and you should be careful where you walk. But within a few minutes, you’ll arrive for what you came for. The stunning views over Ilhéu da Cevada and Ilhéu do Farol. There is a sign stating not to go further for safety reasons. Many people might walk further, but use extreme caution here. Take a moment to enjoy the scenery from Miradouro Ponta do Furado before heading the same way down.
Flora and fauna at Ponta de São Lourenço
The peninsula also has some unique flora and fauna species. You might spot a flock of Canário birds and sparrows, but also the roadrunner, corre camino, is common to spot. During the migration, Ponta de São Lourenço is an excellent spot for birdwatching! If you’re lucky, you might even see a hoopoe or whimbrel. The peninsula is very rocky and dry, and many lizards will accompany you on the walk. It’s a very different landscape than the lush green forests you might think of when hiking in Madeira! Some rocks are covered with grass, and some flower patches are on the way. The endemic Matthiola Maderensis, with its purple flowers, is common. And you’ll spot plenty of white and yellow Chrysanthemum Argyranthemum.
Take a break at Casa do Sardinha
You can visit Casa do Sardinha when it’s time for a break. The cafe is located just before the end of the walk. So you can visit before hiking up the last hill, but the reward might feel better on the way back. There are, however, toilets, and it’s always good to check if you still have plenty of water. Sandwiches, snacks and drinks and served here, and it’s a welcome break during the back. The cafe is open daily from 11 AM until 5 PM, but double-check before going.
Praia de São Lourenço and Praia do Sardinha
Do you prefer a dip in the ocean? Close to Casa do Sardinha, you can visit Praia do Sardinha. It’s a pretty small beach, but perfect for a swim. Occasionally boat trips leave from this spot also. So you can even combine your hike with a dolphin and whale-watching experience! There is also an option to go canoeing here along the coast. Praia de São Lourenço is a little closer to the start point of the hike, and this beach is a bit larger also. It’s very secluded and a lovely spot to spend some time.
Ponta de São Lourenço sunrise or sunset
Do you want to make the hike at Ponta de São Lourenço even more spectacular? Head out super early to catch the sunrise over the peninsula! Or come later in the day and watch the sun go time. It’s a magical spot for it! Just bring a headlamp or lantern to hike safely when it’s dark on the trail.
How to get to Ponta de São Lourenço by car?
Ponta de São Lourenço is very easy to reach by car. From Caniçal, it takes less than 10 minutes to drive to the endpoint. From Funchal, it takes about 40 minutes to drive. Having a car during your holiday in Madeira is extremely helpful as you can easily discover the island by yourself. The roads are safe, and you’ll be able to get from points A to B quickly. Check the below car rental offers for your holiday on the island. It will give you all the freedom to explore the hidden gems in Madeira and travel off the beaten path.
How does renting a car work in Portugal? Check out this guide to ensure you’re prepared!
Ponta de São Lourenço parking
There is a car park at Ponta de São Lourenço, and parking is free. The car park is big but not big enough for this popular hike. If you arrive very early, you won’t have any issues parking. If you come later, the car park might be full, and people park on the side of the road. You might add a kilometre or 2 to your hike.
How to get to Ponta de São Lourenço by bus?
You don’t have a driver’s licence, or you don’t want to drive? You can also take the bus to Ponta São Lourenço. You can take the 113 bus from the SAM terminal in Funchal. The bus will take you to the hiking start point; the bus stops at Baia d’Abra. Click here for the current timetable. The bus will take around an hour and a half to get to the PR8 trailhead.
Book a tour to hike Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
The easiest way to enjoy a fully organised day trip to Ponta São Lourenço is by tour! Thankfully many tours are available from Funchal. So apart from the walking bit, you can relax and enjoy the scenery! Not into hiking? Then a canoe trip or boat tour might be perfect for you. As you can see, many ways exist to explore Ponta São Lourenço!
What else can you see around Ponta de São Lourenço?
Ponta de São Lourenço is not far from some other stunning viewpoints. Make a stop along the way at Miradouro da Ponta do Rosto or Ponta do Bode. Maybe you prefer the rest of the day on the beach? Praia de Machico is one of the few sandy beaches in Madeira and the perfect spot to enjoy a day on the water. You can also visit the town of Santana, famous for its cute A-framed houses. In Santana, you can also visit Parque Temático da Madeira and the waterfall Cascata da Aguage.
Other easy hikes in Madeira
Madeira has plenty of easy hikes for beginners. Ponta de São Lourenço is located in a pretty dry and rocky landscape, but other walks are within the lush green forests of the island. Check out Levada do Calderão Verde or Levada dos Balcões to discover a very different landscape on the island. Or check the WalkMe Madeira App and find a suitable hike for your level. Are you looking for a challenge? Then climbing the summit of Pico Ruivo is perfect!
Hotels in Madeira
Whether you prefer to stay in the city of Funchal, in nature, or a small town, the hotels in Madeira are located on every corner of the island. Funchal is very central and perfect for tours around the island. Faial and Santana are lovely towns to stay in on the northeastern part of the island. To discover all options, click below and book your stay during your holiday in Madeira!
Most of the time, you’ll walk amongst green forests and waterfalls in Madeira. And that is why Ponta de São Lourenço is so unique, as the landscape is vastly different! It’s a relatively easy hike with one climb towards the end. But the view from the top is oh so worth it! It’s a popular walk, so coming early is worth it! But the paths are pretty wide, and even when busy, you won’t be in each other’s way.