First thing at the beginning of our stay on Madeira we wanted to discover the island by rental car. The friendly man at the counter gave us a map where a lot of curves could be seen. That was definitely something for us.
We wanted to drive along the west coast. As near as possible to the coast. At the map it looked good. Our aim was Port Moniz. Off we went. But first we stopped at a supermarket to get some water and cookies. Unfortunately you can not drink the water from the tap.
The streets here are very hilly and they go very steep up and down. Our rental car is quite new, has a strong motor and good brakes. You will need them. We started from the mall Forum. From there you can drive along the coast line. But quite fast it goes upwards. And very quickly we had to stop for the first time. You can park on the street. The car drivers here seem to be used to tourist taking pictures. Nobody complained.
Our first view from above was really wow! Far down we could see the turquoise blue sea with thunderous waves rolling onto a black beach. That will make a photographer’s hear make miss a beat. But we had to go on. At some parts we could not drive a near to the coast as we wanted. But the route is still very nice. Even if you go through a tunnel all the time. Again and again we stop, admire the view and take pictures. After the municipal area of Funchal it gets more rural and you can see the first small villages. With tiny churches, red roofs, narrow alleys and mostly with a beach or view point. On sundays there is free parking. We found a spot everywhere to park our car.
Of course we were magically drawn to a black beach. We had to climb over a lot of stones. But it didn’t matter. We loved the waves. Achim took a lot of pictures and didn’t care to get wet.
Later on we got hungry. Everywhere there are snack bars and at the beaches there is usually a restaurant. We ate in Ponte del Sol directly at the beach. You will find fresh fish in a display cabinet. But you also can get other snacks. We also tried passion fruit juice and fresh pressed orange juice. Fantastic! There is a small harbour in this village and you can climb on the mole and admire the steep coast or just watch the swell. Dreamlike!
A short glance on the map reveals: We did not get very far! The guidebook said one should not underestimate distances. Yeah right! There are very narrow and twisting roads and they are steep. That needs time. And then of course you have to stop at every single corner and enjoy the view. That also takes time.
The next surprise just lies ahead: A waterfall patters right onto the road. We stopped again. Seriously? Shall we drive through it? We wait a little bit. Other cars just drive underneath it. One driver stops right under the water to clean his car. Right then. We also drive through it. What an event!
We drive further to Jardim do Mar. Already from the hight we catch a glimpse of the small village and the long seafront. Off we went. The waves crash onto the beach and we used the seafront to move a little bit and took a long walk. At the end of the seafront you can walk on to a small beach. Also ere are bars and restaurants with drinks and snacks.
Next stop is at the viewpoint Paul do Mar. That’s what we call high!. The small street winds up the hill. Every now and then there is a lay-by and most of the time you have a wonderful view from there. We learn that we don’t always have to stop right in the middle of the road when we catch a glimpse of a view. Probably there will be a parking lot soon so that you can admire the beauty. That was the case at Port Moniz for example. But as I said drivers are very friendly here and don’t complain when you brake for a view.
We stopped again in Seixal. There we found a small restaurant at a slope with a very nice view over a black beach lined with palm trees. At this tiny booth they offer fresh fish and seafood and a georgeous steak-sandwich for just three Euros. Unbelievable. We already love the espresso like small coffee called „bica“. We have one after each mela. And it just costs 70 Cents.
We took the road through the middle of the island back to the hotel and were at the right time for the sundown at another beautiful place at a beach in Ribiera Brava. As we still had some time until the colorful spectacle we tried „Poncha“ at a small pub. This is a kind of a national drink with quite some power. It should be softened by fresh passion fruit juice. But it still is very strong!
After the sunset we just arrived on time at the car park. It was supposed to be open until nine. But when we arrived at ten minutes to nine the gates were already closed. But we could leave with our parking ticket through the barrier.
We got incredible impressions from the island. Madeira looks totally different from every single curve. There are beautiful villages, fascinating beaches, great and cheap food and an uncountable number of tunnels.