Madeira, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting places in Europe. Although the island is rather small – it is a paradise of diversity when it comes to nature. It is impossible to be bored here because in one day you can experience a tropical forest, monumental waterfalls, foggy mountain trails, and the cliffs. Tall, falling vertically into the sea, lashed by strong winds bouncing off the raw rocks causing shivers of delight and fear when approaching the edge of a cliff a little too close. They are an untouched miracle of nature on the map of Europe and definitely a reason to visit Madeira.
Lorenzo Peninsula – the easternmost peninsula of Madeira
The trail follows the S. Lourenço Point, the easternmost peninsula of the island of Madeira. It was named after the caravel sailed by João Gonçalves de Zarco, one of the three discoverers of the island. As they were approaching the land, he shouted to his crew “São Lourenço, that’s enough!”
This peninsula is volcanic in origin and is mainly made of basalt, although there are also some limestone sediment formations. At the end of the Point, there are two islets: the Cevada, Metade, or Desembarcadouro, and the S. Lourenço Point, Farol or Fora Islet.
The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve and the Desembarcadouro Islet is a total natural reserve. All the land and sea by the North coast, up to a depth of 50m, is part of the European network of important community sites – Natura 2000.
The semi-acid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and explain the lack of trees, which distinguish this area from the rest of the island, which is full of greenery.
Among 138 species of plants identified on the peninsula, 31 are endemic plants, which means that they are exclusive to Madeira. When it comes to fauna, there is one of the largest colonies of seagull (Larus cachinnans atlantis) in the region, which nest on the Desembarcadouro islet. In the waters surrounding Madeira, you can find the world’s rarest seal, known in Madeira as the sea wolf (Monachus monachus).
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço Hike
It is definitely worth visiting this place more than once. We hiked the cliffs 4-5 times during our one-week stay. Always at a different time of the day, with different light and weather. This place attracted us like a magnet, it is outstanding for photography. Every time we visited it, it looked different and more and more mesmerizing. It felt like there was a voice pulling us closer and closer to the edge of the cliffs, into more and more emptiness and being alone with nature. Pure magic.
There are at least several ways to experience this place fully. You can just wander around the cliffs, or you can follow the regular trail.
The Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is one of the most popular hikes around the island. This coastal trail leads along a narrow coastal strip to the easternmost point of Madeira, and certainly to the farthest point you can go to on your own feet.
It is 7 km long and guarantees breathtaking views of the landscape of the island at every step. If you want this experience to be even more exciting, go on a hike during the sunrise or sunset as they are spectacular in Madeira.
Sunrise over the peninsula
The hike begins in the parking lot in São Lourenço, which is approximately 30 minutes away from Funchal. This is where the gravel road starts and it is quite clearly marked, but if you start the trip before sunrise, take the headlamps with you. We also recommend having access to the official Madeira walking app or the map, for example, on Maps.me.
To get to the end of the trail and not miss the sunrise, you need to start the trip about an hour before the official sunrise time. The good thing is, you will probably be able to enjoy that moment alone, without a crowd of other tourists.
At the beginning of the trip we must walk across a wooden bridge, and then go up the wooden stairs, which will change into a path. After about 10-15 minutes we reach the viewpoint. From there, you can see the famous rock of São Lourenco. It is one of the best views along the way.
The PR 8 trail continues uphill and it is a really windy part of the open space. In addition to the amazing burnt orange rock formations, you will come across some beautiful viewpoints.
The trail to the endpoint, which is the Pico do Furado is only 3 kilometers. There is a small plateau just before the summit and several signs telling you that the trail to Pico do Furado is closed and dangerous. Honestly, it doesn’t look like it and therefore many tourists still decide to follow it. As the trail seems not to be so dangerous, it is a good place to wait for sunrise.
A walk from Ponta de Sao Lourenco takes approximately 2 hours (including stops at viewpoints and taking photos). One thing is certain: when visiting Madeira, you cannot miss it, because it is the essence of the uniqueness of this Portuguese island.
Read more about the best hikes in Madeira here: The best hikes and levada walks in Madeira
What you need to know about Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike – practical information
- Distance: 7 km
- Time: The hike will take about 2-3 hours, if you take a lot of photos on the way – add an extra hour.
- Difficulty: It is one of the most popular trails in Madeira as it is close to Funchal. It is not the most difficult, despite several hundred meters of elevation gains. They are spread over the entire length of the trail. The trail is quite rocky and mostly gravel, the path is wide and secured in the steepest places.
- Slope: The total slope for the hike is 472 m.
- Bathroom on PR 8 trail on the São Lourenço island: There is only one bathroom on the entire PR 8 trail in the cafe located at the end of the hike. It costs 1 EURO and is only open when the cafe is open. There are no other bathrooms along the way and at the end of the trail.
- What to wear and what to take for Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike : You need to have several layers of clothing with you because the weather can change quickly. Considering how windy these areas are, bring a hat and hooded clothing. It is not a difficult trail, you do not need mountain shoes. A supply of water will also be useful as you won’t find any on the way. If you are going to walk during the day, be sure to take sunscreen. There is no shadow in the open space and you surely want to avoid sunburns.
The photos you can see in this post are the effect of my collaboration with Michael. We believe in the synergy effect, which is why we have decided to work together during this trip. We hope that it will be an inspiration for your European trips.