It's the gold-sand beach that gets all the claps on Calheta holidays. Plus, restaurants and bars have shuffled their way up to the marina next door.

Seaside star

Calheta’s a diddy village, with a big hook. Parked on Madeira’s sunny south coast, it’s perked up its coastline with a sandy, manmade beach. Apart from that, this place has put the development on ice. It’s backed by pea-green countryside, which includes vineyards and banana plantations.

Winning beach

Sandy beaches aren’t Madeira’s strong suit, but Calheta bucks the trend with its small bay. The sands have been shipped over from Morocco and the super-calm waters are protected by a breakwater. It bumps up alongside the marina, too, which is the spot to head for slap-up meals and whale-watching boat trips.


There are a couple of worth-a-stop places in town. You’ve got a sugar cane factory, which kicks into action for a couple of months a year. It churns out white rum, which is used in the island’s famous bevvy, known as Poncha. There are a couple of levadas – canalside walks – just above the village. Plus, it’s around half an hour’s hike up to Casa das Mudas – a futuristic, basalt-covered art gallery.

At a Glance

  • Admire the sea views from the Casa das Mudas arts centre
  • Drift off on the soft, Saharan sands of Calheta Beach
  • Nip to Funchal for the day