If you’re looking for a laid-back villa holiday in Madeira, the pleasant town of Calheta on the southwestern shoreline is known for its sun-filled days and distinct beauty. Unlike much of Madeira’s black-sand volcanic coastline, the manmade beach of Calheta stands out for its golden sands, one of the very few on the island. For those looking to take their adventure out onto the ocean, aquatic activities such as whale-watching, snorkelling and diving are available from the pretty marina, where you can also find shops and restaurants.
Besides its beachside activities, Calheta – which means ‘small cove’ in Portuguese – is home to an impressive array of history and culture. The historical church and Mudas Contemporary Art Museum of Madeira are popular attractions, with exhibitions on display from high-profile figures like Francis Bacon and Salvador Dalí. Don’t miss a visit to the sugar cane factory which was founded in 1901 and is still active, producing the white rum that goes into making the traditional Madeiran drink, ‘Poncha’. For nature lovers, days are best spent exploring authentic villages built amongst vineyards and banana plantations, and admiring flora and fauna at its best in the UNESCO-stamped national park.