A Soothing, Refreshing Destination Among Canico do Baixo Hotels
The volcanic peaks that surround our Riu Canico do Baixo hotel give way to deep ravines that link the interior to the coast of Portugal. Those occasional visitors, the clouds, bring rain and dampness, sustaining the lush vegetation that emerges everywhere. Some mountainous areas still have Laurisilva forests, authentic relics of prehistory.
The rugged, often impassable terrain, has obliged the local population to construct agricultural terraces that look like coloured jigsaw puzzles. Natural beaches and ports are conspicuous by their absence; giddy cliffs that reach down to kiss the sea prevail on this island. In spite of all this, the Atlantic coast bubbles over with life, making it perfect for fishing and diving. The extremely pleasant temperatures all year round will enable you to enjoy this idyllic island, with its privileged natural assets.
Escape To The Pristine Shores Of Our Madeira Portugal Hotel
Surrounded by spectacular scenery and set on the shores of the Atlantic, in Caniço do Baixo, lies our Madeira Portugal hotel, a unique place in which to enjoy one's holiday, without renouncing the quality and luxury Riu always offers its guests.
Caniço do Baixo beach
The beach in front of the Hotel Riu Palace Madeira, which is accessed by a walkway, is stony and the water can be very choppy at times. When the sea is calm, however, you will be able to enjoy fresh, clean waters.
In this northern town, which has recently become extremely fashionable, there are some lovely natural swimming pools. These volcanic rock pools form small sea inlets beneath a cliff. The work that has been carried out on them enables one to access them easily and enjoy calm waters whilst the waves of the Atlantic break close by.
The administrative capital of the island is also the capital in terms of tourism. For this reason beautiful typical houses coexist with newer constructions, devoid of all charm. In any case, the old town still maintains its traditional charm, with houses and gardens perched on a hill facing the sea.
The monumental area is comprised of several buildings that reflect the splendour of Madeira’s commercial zenith, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The sober, white façades are topped by beautiful orange-coloured roofs.
In contrast to the noble zone, the fishermen’s district known as Zona Velha stands out for its modest appearance, with humble houses crowded into streets running parallel to the sea. This picturesque poorer area of the town has witnessed the opening of a large number of restaurants and craft shops over recent years.
The town can also boast many extremely beautiful religious buildings combining the fine Manueline style with Baroque. The Cathedral and the churches of Carmo, Santa María, San Pedro and Colegio are the most striking. The latter two have beautiful coloured Portuguese tiles.
Don’t miss the lively fish market, where swordfish and different species of tuna abound, both of them an important part of Madeira’s gastronomy.
If you are here at the Christmas season, you will witness the spectacular lights that decorate the streets of the town. The beautiful arches of light on the seafront promenade are famous all over Portugal, as are the spectacular firework displays on New Year’s Eve.
Curral das Freiras
Also known as the Valley of the Nuns, this village of small white houses stands enveloped amongst enormous mountains. This is a remote place and the road that leads here, hewn out of a vertical cliff face, is quite spectacular. The town, with its gardens intermingling with the houses, stands out from the large masses of basalt rock that surround it. Extremely beautiful views are to be had from the viewpoint you reach before arriving in the town itself.
Old road from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz
The roads in Madeira are very good, and allow one to discover breathtaking scenery by car. The one-way road linking Sao Vicente and Porto Moniz is without doubt the most spectacular of all the coast roads.
We recommend you start at the Boca da Encumeada viewpoint, which affords one of the best views of the island. A winding road leads down to Ribeira de Sao Vicente, where the road running parallel to the sea begins. This is the broadest piece of landscape in the area, because the ravine is not very pronounced.
Passing through Ribeira do Inferno, a ravine that is 20 times deeper than it is wide, a winding road, with many tunnels, runs through the fern-covered landscape. The area is extremely humid, with waterfalls and cascades falling from above onto the asphalt and the passing cars.
The road, narrow all the way, is constantly beaten by the Atlantic waves. One of the most beautiful picture-postcard images is provided by the small village of Seixal, set beside the sea at the end of a deep, narrow ravine. The small houses in this modest village contrast with the gigantic masses of basalt that preside over it.
This scenic route finishes in Porto Moniz, at the end of a winding road that runs between terraces sculpted out of the landscape. Seen from above, these stepped gardens form a mosaic of different tones of green.
The typical triangular houses with thatched roofs that reach the ground draw more visitors than anywhere else in Madeira. The best-preserved of the houses have white façades with bright, colourful decorations. And many are surrounded by beautiful flower gardens, a pleasure for sight and smell.
The irregular distribution of the houses is a reflection of the layout of the original villages on the island. In extremely rugged terrain, compact villages and squares were a luxury. Now things have changed, although there are still some villages, like Santana, that bear testimony to the past.
This cliff, which plunges into the sea from a height of 580m, is the highest on the archipelago and the second-highest in the world. The viewpoint, that overlooks a void, affords panoramic views of the south coast, including the towns of Funchal and Ribeira Brava. There is a very high influx of tourists, but the beauty of the scenery makes it worthwhile.
Pico Ruivo mountain
Madeira’s highest peak, at 1862m, is also highly accessible. After leaving your car in a nearby car park, a pretty cobbled path will take you to the top. From here, you can see the whole island and the Atlantic, as the summit provides exceptional views. On occasions, clouds come between visitors and the landscape, which can be annoying but is nevertheless part of the charm of this place.
The coast of Caniço do Baixo forms part of the Marina do Garajau Nature Reserve. This area is extremely rich in marine life and there are plenty of companies that will help you discover it.
There are immersions for all levels, and a wide variety of species: octopi, groupers, dolphins, barracudas, moray eels, manta rays and a host of coloured fish.
Madeira offers numerous possibilities for people who love nature walks. Many paths run alongside the “levadas”: irrigation channels that cleave through the mountains to water the more inaccessible farming land. These routes are currently one of the island’s most important tourist attractions. There is a total of over 200 passable "levadas". Below are some of the more notable ones:
Ribeiro Frio balcony: One of the shortest, most accessible routes, and also one of the most beautiful. This combination makes it extremely popular, so if you want a little peace and quiet you should go in the morning. The woods here are simply delightful: the trees and rocks are covered with moss, and long lichens hang from the branches. At the end of the track you come to a viewpoint, where you will come face to face with the tall, green peaks of the central mountains and Pico Ruivo, the highest summit on the island.
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço: The landscape on this peninsula is semi-arid, in clear contrast to the lush forests that prevail on the rest of Madeira. The path will enable you to discover the most beautiful cliffs on the island, that plunge down into a sea from which large rock formations emerge. The area is also the habitat of endemic vegetation and a wide variety of birds such as goldfinches, canaries and kestrels.
Vereda da Encumeada: This route passes through impressive volcanic slopes and thick Laurisilva forests, with species such as lime trees, laurels, clethras, orchids and daisies.
Levada do Caldeirão Verde: Passing through mountains covered in cedar and beech trees you will come to the deep valley of Ribeira de São Jorge. The views of the interior are spectacular: lush landscape with well-kept farming terraces and picturesque stone villages.
As a result of its privileged situation in the midst of the Atlantic, Madeira has a flourishing sport fishing industry. Excursions departing from the south side of the island are organised, and participants frequently return with different species of tuna, as well as marlins, wahoos and sawfish.
Santo da Serra Golf: This course is considered one of the most spectacular in Europe. Set between the sea and the mountains, the views certainly are fabulous. It is comprised of two different courses and 27 holes, and is therefore suitable for several different levels of play.
Palheiro Golf: Lined with mature cedar, pine and beech trees, this course offers fabulous views of Funchal and its bay. Its greens are reputed to be fast, although the course is suitable for all levels.
Fish: One local delicacy is a variety of swordfish exclusive to the seas of Madeira and Japan. Its exquisite white flesh is usually served with banana and may be baked, grilled or fried.
You will also find octopus and delicious shellfish such as limpets and sea snails.
Meat: With regard to meat, one highlight is the grilled kebabs threaded onto bay leaf skewers, giving them an aromatic flavour.
Another speciality is "carne em vinha de alhos" – meat marinated in a mixture of wine, garlic, bay leaves and spices for several days, and then fried.
Bread: Don’t leave the island without trying the ‘bolo do caco’ (literally ‘cake of piece’), a kind of bread made using sweet potato and cooked on a piece of broken tile.
Madeira wine: Its peculiarity resides in a slow “cooking” period of three to six months at 50c°. Some are mixed with cognac, to help conserve them. There are 4 varieties: Secial, pale and ideal for aperitifs; Verdhelo, semi-dry and the perfect accompaniment to cheese and fruit; Bual, very aromatic and served with desserts; and Malvasía, fruity and also for desserts.
Embroidery: In 1850, the English opened up the first factory here and the industry took off, becoming one of the most important on Madeira. There are still 10,000 embroiderers on the island, many of whom work from home. Anywhere on the island you will be able to find tablecloths, towels or clothes embellished with delicate hand embroidery. The industry has been hit by modern times and more efficient production methods and in many cases, tradition has not survived. Nevertheless the local authorities are trying to preserve this popular art, by attempting to reinforce its quality.
Basketry: On the island you will find baskets, tablemats, chairs, tables and other objects made using wicker canes. The main production centre is Camacha, but wicker bundles can frequently be seen piled up beside houses or on rooftops all over the island.