Outside Funchal, East Madeira is the island’s most heavily populated area. The ‘second city’ and former capital Machico, Madeira’s main port at Caniçal, and the stilt-walking airport are all at this end of the island. It’s an action-packed area of gliding Boeings and aqua parks, golden sand and stupendous views, all just a short ride from Funchal along the Via Rápida.
Camacha Wicker Factory
Factory in East of Madeira
Camacha is the epicentre of Madeira’s wicker industry, showcased at the O Relógio (The Clock) building in the centre of the village. The complex has three floors – the top floor is a shop where you’ll find countless products made from the island’s willow wands. The middle floor boasts an exhibition of wicker creations while in the basement you’ll find local craftspeople fashioning items from scratch, arguably the most interesting feature here.
O Relógio also has a cafe and a restaurant as well as a kids playground on its doorstep.
Museu da Baleia
Museum in East Madeira
Once a minor exhibition housed in small seafront building, Caniçal’s Whale Museum was moved to a large multi-million-euro, ultra-modern complex in 2012, making it possibly the world’s best museum devoted to the topic. The fascinating exhibition is divided into two sections – whaling on Madeira and whales – with an automatic commentary playing in your ears as you go. Count on spending at least 2½ hours here.
The first section plots a course through the brief history of Madeira’s whaling industry, from its amateur beginnings to its final demise in the early 1980s. There are real whaling boats, gruesome harpoons, examples of scrimshaw (whale-bone art) and a slightly nauseating film showing how whales were caught and butchered in Caniçal. However, upstairs is where the real wow-factor is – gigantic whale, dolphin and seal models hang from the ceiling, you can head to the deep in a submarine, there are several 3D films on all aspects of whales’ lives to watch, and tons of information to digest.
Beach in East Madeira
For those in the know, this tiny beach east of Caniçal is the best outside Funchal. A romantically secluded suntrap, this wild arc of black sand is backed by cliffs under which there’s a basic cafe. At high tide the water comes right up to the rocks leaving no sand – get there early and you’ll have the place to yourself (for a while at least). There’s parking on the clifftop and Caniçal buses stop here on request.
Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport
Landmark in East Madeira
Few airports could be counted as true places of interest, but Madeira’s runway sticking out on stilts into the Atlantic and hemmed on two sides by mountains definitely can be. From Santa Cruz head uphill along the ER207 that runs high above the runway for great views of planes performing the tricky landing manoeuvre. You can also plane watch from the airport’s roof as you wait for your flight.
Statue in East Madeira
The upmarket village of Garajau hangs for dear life on the side of a cliff, 6km as the crow flies from central Funchal. On an often blustery promontory below the village stands the Cristo Rei – a late-1920s mini-version of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue, arms outspread, eyes gazing into the infinite blue of the Atlantic.
Praia de Garajau
Beach in East Madeira
At the foot of the cliff atop which stands the Cristo Rei statue, this stony beach was once used for dismembering and boiling up whales caught by boats off Madeira. It’s since been turned into a leisure complex with a restaurant and other facilities, reached by cable car near the statue or a very long and zigzagging road.
Praia de Machico
Beach in East of Madeira
Located near the town Machico, on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
It is one of the few sandy beaches of Madeira, with sand imported from North Africa. However, these sand-imports were quite controversial, as the sand was taken from Western Sahara, a Non-Self Governing Territory which has been largely occupied by Morocco since 1975. The imports are considered to be a violation of international law, as the consent of the people of the territory is required in the exploitation of the territory’s resources.
Complexo Balnear Lido Galomar
Beach in East Madeira
Take the lift down from Caniço de Baixo’s Hotel Galomar to discover this secluded sun-trapping bathing area with sea access, pools and a first-rate restaurant.
Capela dos Milagres
Church in the East of Madeira
The Chapel of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Milagres, also known as Capela dos Milagres, is a chapel in Machico, Madeira, Portugal, and is located at the Banda d´Além site in Machico. This chapel resulted in the desire of the Portuguese navigators to create a temple as a way of thanking Jesus Christ for the discovery of the land. However, due to its location, it was exposed to the elements. One of which happened on October 9, 1803 with a flood. The chapel was almost completely destroyed and the crucifix was eventually dragged to the sea. Only a few days later, she is found at sea by a navigator who ends up delivering it to the Cathedral of Funchal. Later, this crucifix appears in the chapel with a new name, the Lord of Miracles, in the face of the miracle of having been recovered after so much tragedy.
Miradouro do Pico do Facho
Viewpoint in East of Madeira
The Pico do Facho Viewpoint offers a wide view over the Machico valley, reaching as far as the island’s central peaks and Ponta de São Lourenço.The Pico do Facho Viewpoint is located north of Machico, before reaching the tunnel of Caniçal, along a path that leads up to the top of Pico do Facho. Historically, this was the place where huge bonfires were lit in order to alert the population of approaching enemy ships.
From here, the panoramic views of the Machico valley can be admired; they extend up to the island’s central peaks, including Ponta de São Lourenço.