The literal translation for Camara de Lobos is ‘chamber of the sea-lions’. Here’s how you can visit this charming little seaside town with kids and what to expect from it.
Camara de lobos; the history of the town
Back in 1419 when the island was discovered by Zarco, he found a colony of marine animals sheltering in the bay. The animals were later categorised as monk seals which today are very rare and only found on the deserted islands (Ilhas Desertas, three long and narrow islands) a short boat trip from Madeira.
We stopped for something to eat
5km east of Funchal, we stopped off at this traditional fishing village for a spot of lunch and a little walk. The fishing port is a working town that specialises in fishing of the night dwelling fish, the Scabbard. During the day, the fish descend to depths of 1,500m and this deep water survival has evolved the ugly appearance of the fish, with big eyes, long snouts and fang teeth.
Apparently this village was visited by Winston Churchill in 1899 and inspired him to paint it. I wasn’t aware of this prior to our visit but somewhere there is a plaque on the wall of the Churchill Restaurante which shows where he worked. His paintings can be found on Google Images, if you’re interested.
There are Bananas everywhere!
The steep hills that encapsulate the valley have been agriculturally cultivated into banana and cherry plantations and higher up, vineyards. As you drive into this town, you can see the hundreds of banana trees planted at eye level.
Camara de Lobos the town
We visited this little town in the depths of winter and with Max (our neighbour’s dog who we’re now banned from seeing). The town looks a little shabby around the edges, much like lots of Madeira, and it’s clearly having something of an uplift with what looks like a new seafront.
The town is slightly sprawled around the higher cliffs and sea inlets, which can be very rough. At the western end you have the church and town square which lead down to the walkway which looks over to Cabo Girao and the eastern side houses the colourful bay of boats and a selection of restaurants.
Where to park
The town’s church
At the bottom of the cliff is a walkway where you can stop and watch the waves pummel the rocks below. We visited in winter and the sea here was a little rough.
The Sea Boats
In the waters around the bay are brightly coloured fishing boats, most of which don’t seem to go out until dusk.
The bay inlet
The bay itself is a pretty sight with layers of cultivated land and bright apartment blocks and houses stacked high.
The boats on land
Even the marina which seems to be littered with numerous boats, is a bright and colourful place, lined with high palm trees which sway gently in the wind.
Eating lunch in Camara de lobos
We ate a simple but very tasty lunch on a balcony overlooking the fishing boats. Taberna dos lobos. We had a variety of soups, salads, chips and 3 large bottles of sparkling water. I think the bill came to €25 and we left a small tip.
There are a huge amount of restaurants everywhere and they all, unsurprisingly, seem to specialise in seafood. Being vegan here wasn’t impossible though as nearly all the restaurants offer sweet potato fries, a range of salads and soups.