The town of Paul do Mar on the southern coast of Madeira is one of the most scenic spots on the entire island. With towering cliffs looking down over the small beach town, it is incredibly picturesque. This Fajã da Ovelha hiking trail starts at one end of the town, climbs up to the ridge above, traverses along the ridge, and then drops back down into the other end of the town. You visit several viewpoints along the way along the Vereda da Atalaia and the Vereda dos Zimbreiros hiking trails. It’s not an official route but I will provide the map details in this blog post.
FAJÃ DA OVELHA HIKE HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 11 kilometers.
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 4 hours, especially if you have a lunch break at the summit.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is not too difficult although the 900 meters of incline will test out your endurance. The trails up and down the steep stairs are rocky, uneven and at times a little slippery but overall they were wide and didn’t put you near the edge or in danger. I’d advise this hike for a day when the trail is dry. The hardest part was the directions as there are many turns and this route is not an official loop. If you download my GPX map, you will have the route ready to go.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 900 meters
My Strava Map Upload: Paul do Mar Circular Route
HOW TO GET TO THE FAJÃ DA OVELHA HIKE TRAILHEAD
The hike starts and begins in the coastal town of Paul do Mar. Technically you can start at either end of the loop but I prefer to start at Maktub bar, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink at the end of the route. I’ll add the Google Maps pin location for the start of the hike below.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE FAJÃ DA OVELHA HIKE IN PAUL DO MAR
The south coast of Madeira is known for having an abundance of sunshine and beautiful coastal towns. However, if you have a sense of adventure you might just come across some interesting trails. While searching online, I found a route another person had previously done that began in Paul do Mar and took the Vereda dos Zimbreiros up the hill on the western end of the town. The trail then traversed the ridge above Paul do Mar before taking the Vereda da Atalaia hiking path back down the many switchbacks to return to the town. The ascent and descent sections are amazing and have unrivaled views of Paul do Mar so I highly recommend this lesser-known hike.
The trail began near Maktub Bar, although you could start anywhere in the town. We then headed down the western end to join Vereda dos Zimbreiros, which is a trail that leads to Zimbreiros viewpoint. This is where you will do most of the incline and the many switchbacks wind through cactus and rocks to lead you up to the viewpoint. It’s pretty exposed here to the sun so bring sunscreen and lots of water. The dropoffs
The Vereda dos Zimbreiros viewpoint was the main way in and out of Paul do Mar fishing village until the 1960s before roads, tunnels, and bridges were constructed. With views over the Atlantic ocean and Paul do Mar, this viewpoint is a bit of a hidden gem on this side of the island. It’s a perfect place for an epic sunset on Madeira Island.
The trail now loops up into the neighborhoods for a couple of kilometers. At first you might think this isn’t very natural but I actually enjoyed walking through the local houses and gardens. It’s a quite place to live and quite insightful to pass by and take note of how people on this coast are living. There are no signs as this isn’t an official trail, I used the GPX file (you can download mine) to keep on track. The highlight of this section was to pass by the magnificent ‘Capela de São Lourenço’, which is a church with an incredible ocean view.
We joined up with a levada as we made our way along the ridge, which would eventually lead us to the descent back down into Paul do Mar. This part of the trail was quite uneventful as we simply followed the grassy levada trail.
We actually timed this hike a little poorly and ended up in the hills during sunset rather than on the descent as planned. This meant we had to come down the stairs and steep descent in the dark. This section, the Vereda da Atalaia, would be incredible during sunset and had similar drop-offs to the ascent on the Vereda dos Zimbreiros trail.
Despite being a bit behind schedule, I was able to fly the drone out over the coast to capture some images of Paul do Mar during the golden hour. I want to revisit this hike to see what the descent would actually look like during sunset on the Vereda da Atalaia, because it truly looked incredible a night with all the lights of Paul do Mar glowing next to the crashing waves of the ocean.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and this guide to the Fajã da Ovelha hiking trail in Paul do Mar on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and stay safe out there.