The Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is one of the most popular hikes on Madeira Island and one I like to call ‘The Dragon’s Tail’. This coastal track takes you along a narrow stretch of rugged coastline to the most eastern point of Madeira Island, well at the least the furthest point you can hike to. The hike is a seven-kilometer route with a number of stunning viewpoints, which highlight the volcanic erosion over millions of years throughout the coastline. It’s a great sunrise hike but is also an underrated sunset spot on Madeira.
VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 7 kilometers.
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 2-3 hours, especially if you have a break at a few of the many scenic spots along the way.
Hike Difficulty: This is one of the most popular trails on Madeira Island as it is close(ish) to Funchal and not incredibly steep. You still have a few hundred meters of incline but it is spread out and not all in one section. The trail is pretty rocky and mostly gravel paths but quite well defined so with good footwear and attention to your path, it is quite easy to navigate this trail. There are some drop-offs but never without railing or, at least a wide track. Overall, I’d say it’s good for kids and you could bring your dog too.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was officially 472 meters. However, the last part is technically closed as it was low on maintenance/dangerous but many people still go up.
My Strava Map Upload: The Dragon’s Tail
HOW TO GET TO VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE
The Ponta Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is on the very far east side of Madeira Island. As you can see on the map below, there is a rocky outcrop shaped like a tail of the island. This hike leads you along this rugged, rocky trail for as far as you can go. The landscape does continue but the tail is cut in half with an ocean-gap separating you from continuing down all the way to the most eastern point of the island.
I’ve added the pin location for the trailhead below. Here you will find a parking lot, which does get busy but there is plenty of room. If you are there for sunrise there will be no problem finding a park. The trail is then pretty clearly marked but it’s handy to have a map via Maps.me or the official Madeira walking app to stay on course in the dark. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Funchal to reach the trailhead.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE
The Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike was one of the reasons I traveled to Madeira. It’s such a crazy rock formation and is like no other I’ve seen before. I heard you could trail run down the whole thing. I knew this island would be a crazy place to explore with trails like this one. In the end, it isn’t one of the extreme trails on the island compared to many up in the mountains but it is a very beautiful route.
I met a few new friends from Germany for this one in Funchal and we set off in the dark, hoping for a good sunrise out on ‘The Dragon’s Tail’. In order to have a sunrise at the final viewpoint, you need to start the hike about one hour before the official sunrise time. It’s about a half-hour drive from Funchal so you need to be leaving Funchal about two hours before the official sunrise time. You can quickly see why the trail will be empty as it was for us. When we finished the trail it was starting to get very busy and the parking lot was full but at sunrise, we were the only ones out on the hike.
The trail begins in the parking lot and heads out on the gravel track. In the dark, on the way to the sunrise we didn’t get to appreciate the incredible colors and rock formations in the early sections of the hike but on the way back we were blown away. You might have to squint to see the tiny hikers in the following photos. The landscape was big and I was doing my best to fit it all in.
In addition to the incredible burnt orange rock formations, you have several beautiful viewpoints along the way. On the day I visited, I battled without too much sunlight. Poor lighting conditions always disappoint me on epic hikes like this but it was still great fun to photograph.
The trail is just three kilometers until you reach the summit called Pico do Furado. However, there is a small plateau just before the peak and a couple of signs said the track up to Pico do Furado was closed and dangerous. It looked fine and many other hikers went up there as we saw so not sure what that was all about. There was no drop-off and nothing dangerous except a few of the stairs needed a tiny repair. Basically, once you reach these stairs you can choose to return or head all the way up to the viewpoint. We headed up and waited here for the sunrise. Again, I took these photos on the way back when it wasn’t pitch black!
At the viewpoint, we waited in the wind without much protection. Looking out at the horizon we weren’t hopeful of a great sunrise as the clouds were completely covering the lower areas of the sky. The sun did break through the clouds for a slight moment but also put on quite a show with light rays seeping through in all directions. It wasn’t perfect but still breathtaking. The best part of the sunrise was watching the glow over Funchal. You have a great view back to Funchal and really get an idea of how the clouds form over the island from this far away.
I waited and waited and finally, the sun broke over the top of the thick layer of clouds on the horizon. It was time to send out the drone for some scouting missions over the rock formations. You can’t make it all the way to the tip of the east or the tip of the dragons tail because it’s broken off and there’s a big gap of the ocean you simply can’t get past. The Pico do Furado viewpoint is the end for hikers. Therefore, it was up to the drone to explore the rest of the dragons tail.
On the far eastern side of the Pico do Furado viewpoint, we scrambled down the cliff a little to get a great view of the remainder of the tail. The sun broke out again for a brief moment and these were my favorite shots from the morning and a great memory of the hike. I wouldn’t suggest going down here as it’s very slippery but to each their own.
On our way back we stopped off for a quick look at the Casa do Sardinha. It was built for Manuel Bettencourt Sardinha who, after having built the Cais de Abra in 1905, ordered it to be built in order to serve as a place of refuge and vacation. It has been passed down from generation to generation until in 1996 it was sold to the Autonomous Region of Madeira, on the condition it would be used for conservation.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM THE VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike, or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your Adventure Bag on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories and we will repost your Adventure Bag photo to help inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and stay safe out there.