Calheta is on the southwest coast of Madeira. Whilst in Calheta town consider visiting the historic, picturesque fishing villages of Paul do Mar and Jardim do Mar which were venues in 2001 for the World Surfing Championships.
Calheta (kuh-LYIH-tuh, /kɐ.ˈʎe.tɐ/) is the administrative centre of the district of the same name and the most important town in southwest Madeira, founded in 1430. It used to be the centre of the sugar industry. The small marina "Calheta Beach" is important for tourism, because sand from the Sahara was poured here in an artificially created bay. This is how the only sandy beach along the south coast was created. In addition to the area around Canico, which is more dedicated to package tourism, Calheta has the largest colony of local Germans from abroad who are often also involved in tourism (rental, excursions, paragliding). The most important German-language online and print magazine is also created here.
Tourist information often does not distinguish the municipality of Calheta with the port from the neighboring municipalities of Arco da Calheta , which stretches up the hills towards Funchal along the coast, and Estreito do Calheta, which grows northwest up into the foothills. All three areas cover areas far into the mountains. Visitors without their own car should therefore carefully check the location information to protect themselves from surprises.
- 1 Câmara Municipal da Calheta, Edifício Paços do Concelho, Avenida D. Manuel I 46, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Madeira's only airport, Santa Cruz, Calheta can be reached within 40 minutes on the coastal motorway.
The operator Rodoeste connects the place quickly and frequently with the capital Funchal, but also with all other places on the island (sometimes only 1-2 times a day).
The ER-101 coastal motorway connects quickly to Funchal via Ribeira Brava, where the motorway under the Encumeada Pass connects the north coast. Winding country roads can also be used to get to the Paúl da Serra plateau and along the west coast to Porto Moniz.
Calheta is approached from Ribeira Brava via the expressway ER-101 in tunnels, at the end of which you can get to Calheta Beach very quickly. However, some areas are better to be reached via the coastal road via Maddalena do Mar. As everywhere in Madeira, it is not easy to decide which of the paths to choose without a local knowledge. A good description of how to get there may be useful when you are arriving.
Parts of the municipality are in the hilly to mountainous hinterland. At least there, it is advisable to have your own vehicle.
- 1 Engenho da Calheta (Sugar Cane Mill). A museum and a sugar cane processing factory in the Calheta district of Madeira. There are two mills for crushing the sugar cane. The waste or bagasse falls down a chute and is removed by a conveyor belt below the mills. Some of the machinery is 200 years old and steam powered. The museum and factory with a cafe are situated about half-way down the hill between the Calheta Marina roundabout outside the two tunnels and the ocean front road next to the white sand beaches of Calheta district.
- 2 Parish Church of Igreja Matriz do Espírito Santo. 15th/16th century, tabernacle made of ebony.
- 3 Casa das Mudas (Modern Art Museum of Calheta), Estrada Simão Gonçalves Câmara 37 Ilha da Madeira, 9370-139 Estreito da Calheta, ☏ . It was selected as one of 28 major architectural projects for the Mils van der Rohe competition, which is important in the EU.
- 4 Casa da Misericórdia, Avenida D. Manuel I 29, ☏ . Historic building from 1535.
- See the bodyboarding and stand-up surfing. Paul do Mar was one of the venues in 2001 for the World Surfing Championships
- Engenho da Calheta, a museum and a sugar cane processing factory in the Calheta district of Madeira. There are two mills for crushing the sugar cane. The waste or bagasse falls down a chute and is removed by a conveyor belt below the mills. Some of the machinery is 200 years old and steam-powered. The museum and factory with a cafe is situated about half-way down the hill between the Calheta Marina roundabout outside the two tunnels and the ocean front road, next to the white sand beaches of Calheta district.
- Forte de Santo António do Paul do Mar (English: Fort of Saint Anthony) - Constructed in 1754, a provision of the 1761 Counsel of War (Portuguese: Conselho de Guerra), that also raised the annual income of the King's representative by including a barrel of wine.
- There are many festas in the village throughout the year particularly in the summer months including the festa celebrating the Patron Saint of the village Santo Amaro from 14–15 January and The Festa da Lapa (the festival of the shellfish/limpets) which lasts from a Friday to a Sunday night in the month of July.
- Whale watching trips, ☏ , (mobile). Lobosonda whale watching 2-3 times a day depending on the season. Reservation advisable. Charter booking possible.
- Paragliding Madeira Airbase Airadventours, Sitio da Achada de Santo Antao, P-9370-011 Arco da Calheta, ☏ .
- Bathing and water sports at the recreation harbor, Calheta Beach.
- Walk the PR19 Caminho Real do Paul do Mar: walk up a valley with a waterfall to Prazeres 400 metres above. Start at the harbour. It takes about an hour.
At the harbour below the hotel there is a supermarket with an ATM, which is sufficiently equipped for self-catering. Three is a large supermarket and market hall in Ribeira Brava, Sunday farmers' market in Prazeres or Estreito Camara dos Lobos.
Buy and eat lapas the fish in seashells that live on the rocks on the beach of Paul do Mar. Traditionally they are fried in garlic and beer a lager is recommended to be drunk with them
When visiting a historic fishing village such as Paul do Mar eating fresh seafood is a must. Eat 'lapas' the fish in seashells that live on the rocks on the beach of Paul do Mar. Traditionally they are a snack, a starter to a meal fried in garlic and beer, a lager is recommended to be drunk with them. The other favourite fish dish is 'espada' the ugly but, delicious black scabbard fish which lives thousand of metres below the ocean surface.
- 1 Restaurante Beira Mar, Avenida D. Manuel I 8, Estreito da Calheta (Apartamentos Beira Mar), ☏ , email@example.com. Tu–Su 11:00–23:00, closed M. Seafood and meat. €8-15.
Whilst in Paul do Mar village the traditional drinks are the soft drink 'Brisa Maracuja' a fizzy drink made only in Madeira from passion fruit. Passion fruits grow in Paul do Mar. The local lager which has won international awards 'Coral', and of course Portuguese and Madeiran red, white and rosé wines, which can generally be bought by the glass or by the bottle with or without a meal. By the way, a 'bica' coffee is a standard expresso and a 'Chinesa' is a Cappuccino coffee.
In Calheta there is a wide range of hotels, apartment complexes, natural facilities (Casas Rurales) and private holiday apartments, some of which are run by German (speaking) owners. Some offers can also be booked as part of package deals. Often booked addresses are (without rating):
- 1 Calheta Beach Hotel, Rua D. Manuel I 3 (Calheta Beach), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Beach hotel on the lagoon that is often used as part of package tours as a starting point for hikes.
- 2 Hotel Atrio, Caminho dos Moinhos 218, Estreito da Calheta, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 3 Sunny House East & Sunny House West, Paul do Mar, Vereda do Lombinho, Ribeira das Galinhas, Paul do Mar, Calheta region (from Funchal or the airport, drive west to the region of Calheta; after the Calheta Marina roundabout go straight on to Jardim do Mar then Paul do Mar), ☏ . Two private holiday rental houses. Both houses sleep 5 and are 50 m from the ocean front between banana fields. 10 minute drive from the town of Calheta & its marina which has white sand beaches next to it.