Holidays to Ponta Do Sol add a touch of style to the classic beach holiday. Think exclusive sunbathing spots, chic bars, and jaw-dropping scenery.
Ponta Do Sol, a small town on Madeira’s south-west coast, is a location scout’s dream. Its red-roofed houses are stacked up on two sides of a steep ravine that’s blanketed in vineyards and banana trees. There’s a small port and a harbour, plus a few restaurants and supermarkets – all lifted by a couple of design-led hotels that give the place a boutique feel. Ponta Do Sol translates as Sun Point. It’s the sunniest spot on the island, and it also gets rich, golden sunsets at the end of each day.
At the front of the town is a small, pebble beach, backed by a palm-fringed promenade. A breakwater curls in front of the shore, keeping the water sheltered and emerald green. And there’s a bar in the far corner where you can rent parasols and sunloungers. Another beach, Faja Dos Padres, is a 10-minute drive away at the foot of a cliff. A lift runs to the bottom, where there’s a peaceful swathe of black volcanic pebble, edged by gardens.
Ponta Do Sol has much more than beaches to offer. By boat, you can head off on the lookout for bottlenose dolphins, go scuba diving to the wreck of the Bowbelle – a trawler that sank off the coast in a storm – or explore the bays notched along the coast. If you’d rather keep your feet on dry land, hike into Madeira’s untouched interior of sugar cane plantations and waterfalls, following aqueducts the whole way.
Close to Funchal
Madeira’s cosmopolitan capital is 30 minutes’ drive away. Packed into the old town are sights like the Sao Francisco Gardens and the Mercado Dos Lavradores, a maze-like food market. Blandy’s Wine Lodge, meanwhile, has tasting rooms where you can sample Madeiran wines. Come night-time, crowds head to the harbour, where bars and clubs overlook the Atlantic Ocean.
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