Download This Map Of The hike
Where is Sao Lourenco Point?
What About Parking?
There is ample parking for at least fifty cars and although it nearly always looks busy most cars just come for a look and a photo to say they’ve been.
The Start Of The Walk
Leaving the car park you can either circumnavigate the cliffs to the right or walk on the pathway to the left. We chose to do one on the way there and the other on the return.
On the cliffs to the right are sections where people have built stone cairns. It tends to be busy and when I saw all of those people I started to freak thinking it would be the worst hike ever but really they were no where to be seen once we started officially walking.
Amazing Views Over The Atlantic Ocean
Very quickly into the walk, less than 5 minutes, you’ll notice the spectacular scenery on both sides of you. Definitely take some sort of camera because the views are phenomenal.
To your right (west) you have the calmness of the south side of the Atlantic and to you left (east) you can see often huge waves battering the coast line. There are frequent rock slides on the eastern side of the walk and you can see the giant boulders tumbled and sitting in the water.
The drop down to the ocean is just a small 50m and often the rope barrier to safeguard you is missing. It is frequently quite windy so do watch your step. Saying that, we did this hike in winter and I know many of the repairs to tracks are not completed until the start of summer.
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The Serentity of the West Ocean
See how calm the west of Sao Lourenco looks. There were virtually no waves which was brilliant for January.
The Rough Sea of the East
In comparison, the sea to the west is really rough and the waves pummel the coast line. There is considerable sea damage to the western side with frequent rockfalls.
If you suffer from vertigo this hike will certainly challenge you. In places you can just glance over the side and see the 50-100m drops and the ocean swirling below.
Biodiversity of Sao Lourenco Madeira
The vegetation on Sao Lourenco is surprisngly lush all year round. In this vibrant but very windy zone you can discover and enjoy beautiful samples of unique fauna and flora species. The contrasting greens of the lushious grass and the purples and yellows of the newly sprouting flowers were vivid and contrasting.
In comparison to the rest of the island which is full of trees, this part has none. This is due to the semi-arid climate and the WINDS! The wind is strong nearly all the way round the hike.
The peninsula is classified as a partial natural reserve. Of the 138 species of plant identified on the peninsula, 31 are exclusive to Madeira.
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Let’s Talk about the Undulating Pathways of Sao Lourenco Madeira
The pathways are well maintained and although they’re nothing too strenuous don’t expect this to be a walk in the park.
My data said we only climbed a total of 222 metres but I’ll be honest, it did feel more than that. The hike starts out on a boardwalk and a path but as soon as you hit the first hill, the hike seems to become steep steps carved into the rock and it remains that way throughout.
We did the return hike in 3h 15. We didn’t walk fast, we really took our time and took photos, admired the view and stopped frequently! Isn’t that the beauty of hiking though?
Curious Rock Formations
Make Your Way Over The Thin Pensinsula
Listen to the Birds
Along the route you can often see several bird species such as the Berthelot’s Pipit, the Goldfinch, the Common Canary and the Kestrel. More likely though is that you’ll hear them and not be able to spot them. On one bank in particular, you can see the canaries madly fluttering around but they’re just too quick to photograph.
The Madeiran lizard, which is the island’s only reptile, is very common here. We saw the one below basking in the sunlight on a rock.
Did you spot a sea wolf?
In the sea, you may be lucky enough to spot the world’s rarest monk seal, known in Madeira as a Sea-wolf (Monachus monachus). We didn’t see one but if you book a trip to the deserted islands, you’re 100% guaranteed a viewing of the colony that live there.
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Sardinha Point on Sao Lourenco
The Sardinha house, named after its old owners, is easily identifiable as the only building on the walk. From here, in the summer, you can take the short walk down to the port and take a dip! I am told that during the summer it is glorious down there.
The Sardinha house is now a base for Madeiran Natural Park Rangers and who are responsible for maintaining the area.
Oh that final climb
Climbing up past the house is a steep set of steps which leads to the very end of the trail. It is by far the steepest part of the hike but it is definitely worth the effort.
360* views over the ocean and Madeira Island
From here, to the South you can see the Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and to the North the Porto Santo Islands. You can look back and see the path you’ve trodden as well as Madeira.
At the end of the Point there are two islets: the Desembarcadouro Islet and the S. Lourenço Point or Fora Islet. These are inaccessible on foot as they are not connected to a path.
Such a shame. I think the Madeiran tourist industry has missed a treat here. Imagine having a Himalayan style bridge linking the two islets!
Making it back in time for sunset
Because we cannot get out of bed on time and we always leave late in the afternoon, we only just made it back in time for sunshine. But it was a great moment and there’s nothing like the sense of achievement to polish off a great sunset.
Hiking Sao Lourenco Madeira PR8 with kids
We did this hike in 2017 when our kids were 6, 8 and 13 years old. They are used to hiking and have hiking boots although PR8 could easily have just done been in a good pair of trainers/sneakers.
The one thing I’d say is that despite sweating the wind is bitterly cold and it did really cut round our ears on the first hike we completed. we wore lots of layers to keep us warn and I’m glad we did. We didn’t need gloves but a lightweight, waterproof jacket was essential. The weather here can change incredibly quickly.
In the car park when we left there was a food truck but he was gone by the time we returned. I’m not sure what type of food he sells but if you were to hike this in the morning, you could have lunch at the food truck?
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