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Walk and swim in rugged, green Madeira

Portugal’s far-fung subtropical island has more claims to fame than just cake and fortifed wine: year-round sun, a dramatic landscape and a web of ‘levada’ walking paths.
Strelitzia fowers near Ponta Delgada on Madeira’s north coast

By the water


At the extremity of Madeira’s rugged north coast, the village of Porto Moniz has natural pools made of volcanic rock buffering both ends of its seafront. Those near the Cachalote restaurant are free of charge, and left largely wild apart from the access walkway; those at the other end cost £1.20 to enter, are a touch tamer and better for swimming (9am-7pm summer, 10am-5.30pm winter).


Madeira isn’t known for its beaches, but Praia de Calheta offers two well-protected artifcial strips of sand created with grains from the western Sahara, on a lagoon set behind breakwaters to stop the precious stuff from washing away. Calheta is one of the sunniest places on the island and it’s a great spot to swim on hot days, with plenty of eating options nearby (Avenida Dom Manuel I, Calheta; free).

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - July 2016
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