Last Updated on September 4, 2023
As Madeira’s landscape is quite rocky, there aren’t a huge amount of beaches on the island. The majority of them are pebble and not the best if you are looking to sunbathe on sand. To make up for this, there are several lidos with man-made access into the sea for swimming or complexes with salt water swimming pools. Here you’ll find a guide to 9 lidos and beaches in Funchal and what you can expect when visiting each location!
Disclosure: I do my best to try and keep information up-to-date but please check direct with businesses for current opening times and prices.
Lidos and Beaches in Funchal Madeira
- Lidos and Beaches in Funchal
Starting on the far reach of Funchal, in the ‘hotel zone’ or lido district, is the largest beach in Funchal. Praia Formosa is mostly pebble with sand at the water line. People do just lay towels down on the rocks, but it doesn’t look very comfortable! Water shoes may also be a good idea.
If you walk to the end furthest away from Túnel das Poças do Gomes and around the corner slightly (in front of Hotel Orca Praia), you’ll find a black sandy beach. In my opinion it’s one of the best beaches in Funchal.
Down this far end are free public toilets and along the promenade there are a selection of restaurants and cafes. Docas Cafe also have a sweet shop! There’s even a large rock formation on the beach that has a staircase leading to the top.
Formosa Beach can be a little tricky to reach. There is a car park, but if travelling on foot, there are quite a lot of stairs from the main road, or as mentioned, you’ll need to pass through Túnel das Poças do Gomes along the Promenade do Lido. (The Promenade goes all the way to Camara do Lobos).
Due to open in 2024 is the Promenade Gardens, a large public space running parallel to Formosa beach.
Doca do Cavacas (Piscinas Naturais da Doca do Cavacas)
Continuing along the Promenade do Lido back towards the city is one of my favourite ‘beaches’ in Funchal, Doca do Cavacas. This is a natural lido area which I really loved. No doubt while doing research for Madeira you may see the Porto Moniz pools mentioned several times.
Honestly I think they are overrated and Doca do Cavacas are much nicer. The entrance is right next to Túnel das Poças do Gomes.
The pools are small but the water is SO clear. There are lots of little pathways, bridges and steps into the pools. Being natural pools, they do have crabs and fish in. Along with the pools, there is an area to jump into the sea with access via steps and a ladder.
Several decks provide a flat surface to lay down a towel, however there is not a huge amount a shade. Four of the Funchal lidos are operated as ‘one’, so entrance to each of them costs the same (€5.50 for an adult – correct at the time of writing July 2023).
You can also get packages for entry plus sun lounger and umbrella rentals are available. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this location for those with children, unless they are strong swimmers as the pools are deep.
You’ll find toilets, showers and changing rooms, as well as the Cavacas Beach Bar (they serve the biggest Mojito I’ve ever had!). Doca do Cavacas is open from 10am until 7pm.
Complexo Balnear da Ponta Gorda
The next lido you’ll come to along the Promenade is Complexo Balnear da Ponta Gorda. If you’ve got children, this is one where you should head to. This lido, along with Complexo Balnear do Lido are essentially just swimming pools that are filled up with ocean water.
As I was staying in the hotel with a swimming pool and access to free sun loungers and umbrellas, I didn’t see much point in paying for entry.
There’s a large swimming pool as well as a kids pool with some water features, and then a couple of sea swimming areas, including a floating pontoon. The pontoons are quite a swim out from the ‘mainland’ and the sea can get quite rough, so keep this in mind!
It was also rammed with small children, so not the most peaceful place if you are looking to relax!
Complexo Balnear da Ponta Gorda also has a playground, snack bar, and like Doca do Cavacas, has toilets, showers, sun loungers and umbrella rentals and the same entrance fee.
Praia do Gorgulho
Next up is another beach, Praia do Gorgulho. This one is similar to Praia Formosa, with lots of pebbles, but it is much smaller. There are some concrete areas for people to lay down a towel on a flat surface.
Access to the water is a little tricky, there’s a concrete ramp with a rope for a smoother surface, or you’ll need to scramble over the rocks again.
Here you’ll find public toilets, showers and Madeira Water Sports, offering jet ski rentals, stand up paddle boards, kayaks, parasailing and more. Bars and restaurants are a short walk away. Again, I probably wouldn’t recommend this beach for children.
If you are looking for a good free option, the Public Lido next to Praia do Gorgulho is a great option for strong swimmers than want to relax by the ocean. The lido is accessed via steps down to a concrete area with a couple of benches and lots of room for a towel.
It’s popular with adults, as to get into the water you have to go down a staircase, a long ladder…or jump (the water is deep), so this lido is not really suitable for children.
There are showers, toilets and changing rooms. You can even book a massage in this location. When walking along Promenade do Lido, we found the toilets here to be a good places to stop and go, even if not swimming.
Bars and cafes are a short walk away. Once you are dressed again, I recommend Fortim do Lido Bar which overlooks both the public lido and Complexo Balnear do Lido. This is a good place for drinks and snacks.
A ‘Nikita’ is an interesting drink option, it’s a Madeiran drink that was first created in Camara de Lobos, made from pineapple ice cream and beer…it tastes better than it sounds!
Pingo Doce supermarket is also just across the street, if you were looking for a more budget friendly option.
The lido area is open between 9am and 8pm.
Complexo Balnear do Lido
The last place to swim in the Funchal hotel zone/lido district is Complexo Balnear do Lido. This is another of the four lidos with an entrance fee. It has a large rectangular pool as well as two smaller children’s pools with a couple of little water slides. Balnear do Lido also has a floating ocean pontoon.
It feels a bit more spacious compared to Complexo Balnear da Ponta Gorda and is another popular choice for families with small children. The lido has toilets, showers, sun loungers and umbrellas (rental fees apply), free WiFi and a snack bar. There are a few alcove areas to put towels, if you wanted a quieter space a little further from the pools.
Complexo Balnear do Lido is quite easy to get to compared to Docas do Cavacas and Complexo Balnear da Ponta Gourda. It’s close to the main road and opposite the Pingo Doce supermarket.
This is where the Promenade do Lido finishes and is the last of the lidos in São Martinho, the ‘hotel zone’ of Funchal.
Praia do Almirante Reis
Away from the lido end, Praia do Almirante Reis is the closest and biggest beach to the old town area of Funchal. In terms of beaches, it’s once again just pebble, but it didn’t stop people laying down a towel and going for a swim. Praia do Almirante Reis is right next to Funchal Promenade where a large portion of the city buses stop.
The beach is opposite a free outdoor gym and bars, restaurants and cafes are a short walk away. A downside to this beach is that there didn’t seem to be any public toilets nearby and the ones we did find were locked.
As a beach lover I do like to have toilets close. That way you don’t have to worry about getting changed or dry to use them. So personally, I didn’t choose to swim or have a ‘beach day’ at this beach in Funchal.
Praia de Sao Tiago
Praia de Sao Tiago is right alongside the bright yellow Sao Tiago fort. The beach is very small and rocky, but there is a concrete area to lay out towels and sit somewhere that’s flat.
There’s a cafe with toilets and showers. So despite being a smaller beach, if you’re looking for beaches in Funchal that are close to the Old Town, I think this one is a little better than Praia do Almirante Reis. Just because it’s closer to facilities and has somewhere to lay that’s not on rocks.
Complexo Balnear da Barreirinha
Complexo Balnear da Barreirinha, is the last of the Funchal ‘lidos’ that has an entrance fee. I didn’t actually manage to visit this one, but I was speaking to someone in the cable car line that said they had been to it a few times and loved it.
It is slightly different to the other paid swimming complexes as Barreirinha doesn’t have a pool, only open water swimming.
Unlike the two free beaches in the centre of Funchal, this one might be the best if you’re looking for comfort, as they have sun lounger and umbrella rentals. It also has toilets and showers, a bar/cafe and access for sea swimming via ladders plus a very small rock beach. It is located just around the corner from Praia de Sao Tiago.
🥇Best beach in Funchal: The black sand beach at the far end of Praia Formosa
🥇Best paid lido: Doca do Cavacas natural pools
Beaches in Funchal FAQ
There are 4 beaches in Funchal: Praia Formosa, Praia do Gorgulho, Praia do Almirante Reis and Praia de Sao Tiago. In additional to the beaches there are 5 lidos/natural pools.
The Funchal Madeira beaches are mostly pebble.
At the very far end of Formosa Beach, in the hotel district of Funchal, you’ll find a black sand beach. In my opinion this is one of the best beaches in Funchal. However, the largest part of Formosa Beach is pebble with sand at the shoreline.