With an area of over 111.50 square kilometers, Calheta is one of the largest municipalities on the island of Madeira. It covers the southwest of the island and has a population of about 12,000 people, most of which live along the shore. Small towns emerge one after another dotting the steep rocky coastline. Immersed in peace and quietness, the streets of the municipality of Calheta bring an incredible atmosphere, and they don’t differ significantly from the Canary Islands or the Mediterranean, for example.
While some towns are located on extensive flat terraces high above the ocean, others such as Paul Do Mar and Jardim Do Mar are nestled in narrow strips of land between the Atlantic and the precipitous slopes of the volcanic island.
The landscape in this part of Madeira is dominated by beautiful mountain scenery. Most of the coastal slopes in Calheta descend spectacularly into the waters of the Atlantic.
Although facing south, Calheta is very green compared to the southern slopes of the Canary Islands, and the main reason is the little cooler and quite wetter weather in Madeira.
In regions with lower altitude you will find picturesque vineyards and other pastoral farmlands, while the higher lying parts of the island are criss-crossed by fascinating hiking trails surrounded by dense and fresh laurel forests, known as Laurisilva.
In the south-west of Madeira, surrounded by palm trees, is located the most beautiful beach on the island. Calheta Beach (or Playa de Calheta) is an attractive man-made golden sandy beach.
The bright fine sand was brought in from Morocco, Africa. Today this is the most attractive place to relax, swim and sunbathe along the coast of the island. During the summer months this is a place to attract thousands of visitors.
They are not only foreign tourists but also people from all over the island. Playa de Calheta is not very large and consists of two golden sandy stripes facing each other.
They are protected from large ocean waves by huge, made of large concrete blocks, wave breakers. Adjacent to the golden sands of Playa de Calheta there is a small marina. The area of the beach boasts some pretty attractive hotels.
Calheta is a very nice place to relax. There are not too many hotels or enormous crowds of tourists, and the variety of local specialities is very good.
The everyday menu of the people usually consists of fresh seafood and fragrant wines that combine all the benefits of the fertile volcanic soil and mild climate of Madeira. This part of the island is known for the variety of water sports that can be practiced here.
Large waves create good surf conditions, and the richness of the underwater world makes the coastal waters of Calheta an attractive dive site.
If you take a short journey by boat off the coast of Calheta, you will probably have the chance to watch some wonderful sea creatures such as whales and dolphins in their natural environment.