The tail of Madeira – the PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço hike

Read all the information you need for the PR8 Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike in Madeira: from where to park and what to take with you.

The PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço hike is situated in the east of Madeira, on a peninsula with a landscape that is unique in Madeira. If you see it from the sky, it looks like a giant tail that is attached to the island. When hiking through this volcanic landscape, it feels like your walking on the moon. The rock formations are stunning and the landscape is huge. We highly recommend including this hike in your planning for Madeira.

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otherwordly landscape ponta de são lourenço hike madeira
Stunning views during the Ponta de São Lourenço hike

What is a PR route?

The Ponta da São Lourenço hike is a PR trail, more specifically PR8. On Madeira, you can find more than 20 of these PR routes. These routes are recommended by the Madeira government. They are the main hiking trails of Madeira and are well-maintained and perfectly marked.

The Ponta de São Lourenço hike in short

  • Length of the hike – From the parking lot to the final viewpoint of the Ponta de São Lourenço hike and back takes about 7 kilometers in total.
  • Duration of the hike – Expect to hike between 2-3 hours back and forth. The amount of time you’ll need depends on your fitness level and the time you need to enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
  • Difficulty level – The hike has 470 altitude meters. The Ponte de São Lourenço hike is considered as an easy walk. The final part of the hike has a steep incline and requires a good fitness level. The trail is well-maintained and is clearly marked. 
  • Best season to do this hike – You can do this hike in any season. However, in summer, it can get really hot andbusy on the trail. During high season, it’s best to start your hike as early as possible.
moonlike landscape Ponta de São Lourenço hike Madeira
Otherwordly landscapes are a common sight during the Ponta de São Lourenço hike in Madeira

Where does the hike start?

Drive to the tail of Madeira in the east and keep following the ER109 road until you reach the end of that road. This is where the Ponta de São Lourenço hike starts. There is a car park where you can park your car for free. It is about a 30-minute drive from Funchal. In the morning, we didn’t see any public toilets. Upon return, a trailer arrived, mounted with a chemical. You had to pay round 1 euro to use this toilet.

If you plan on doing the Ponta de São Lourenço hike during high season, we recommend to start your hike early, preferably at sunrise. The hike is immensely popular and by starting early, you’re assured to find a parking spot nearby the start of the hike and have the trail to yourself. Note that you have to return the same way, so on your way back you’ll encounter a lot of people.

Description of the Ponta de São Lourenço hike

The hike takes you through a hilly, moonlike landscape. You’ll see the ocean sometimes on your right and sometimes on your left. In the ocean, you can spot some raw rock formations. Along the way, there are beautiful viewpoints, like Miradouro de São Lourenço and Ponta do Castelo. There are no steep ascents of descents during this first part of the hike.

rock formations in ocean ponta de são lourenço hike
Beautiful rock formations in the ocean

After a couple of kilometers, you arrive on a plateau, where you can spot  Casa do Sardinha in the  distance. There is also a signpost at an intersection. Whether you go left or right is up to you, as both trails take you to the little cafe. When we arrived at the Casa do Sardinha, everything was still closed, but the bar looked as the perfect place to have a break (opening times are from 10 am till 6 pm). You can make use of the toilets (1 euro) at Casa do Sardinha.

From Casa do Sardinha, the last part of de Ponta de São Lourenço hike starts, to Miradouro Ponta do Furado. The tail takes you over some rocky terrain. At the viewpoint, you are treated with stunning views over the ocean and the tail of Madeira.

From this viewpoint, you have to take the same way back to the car parking.

casa de sardinha plateau hike ponta de são lourenço hike
tail of madeira ponta de são lourenço hike madeira
signpost PR8 ponta de são lourenço hike
viewpoint hike ponte de são lourenço madeira
Miradouro Ponta do Furado Ponta de São Lourenço hike Madeira

What to take with you when hiking the Ponta de São Lourenço hike?

  • On our hikes, we always make sure to pack lunch and take plenty of water with us. As it can get hot on this rocky landscape, we took our Camelbaks with us, allowing us to take 2 liters of water each with us.
  • Definitely bring a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Sunscreen is also a good idea.
  • Always wear clothes adjusted to the predicted weather. The weather in Madeira can change rapidly so dress in layers. Make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots.
  • Madeira is a volcanic island and is characterised with steep climbs and rocks. To safe your knees it is a good idea to invest in some trekking poles. We recently added these to our hiking gear and can’t live without it anymore.

Where to stay?

Madeira has many beutiful tourist accommodations to chose from. According to us, Funchal is the best location to stay at when travelling in Madeira. We experienced that Funchal tends to have the best weather conditions. Considered that it is only 30 minutes away from the airport and that all important sightings are within a one hour drive from Funchal, the capital of Madeira is the place to be for accommodation.

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madeira where to stay sign funchal

More of Madeira

Wondering what else to do on Madeira? Make sure to read our travel guide for Madeira. Up for some more hikes on Madeira? Below are our favourite hikes in Madeira:

We hope you enjoyed reading our guide about the Ponta de São Lourenço hike. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below.

Happy hiking

Matthias and Mieke

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