Hike on the Peninsula of São Lourenço

The hike out to the Peninsula of Sao Lourenco is one of the most beautiful and stunning walks Madeira has to offer, with amazing views of the Atlantic ocean…

Along the very eastern tip of the island of Madeira, lies the Peninsula de São Lourenço. The Peninsula tapers out from the mainland, slowly winding out and narrowing into a remote peak far into the distance.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
A view of Madeira from the peninsula

There are a few starting points to this hike. There’s the standard one beginning right at the start of the peninsula, where all the tour buses are parked, but we did not strike out from there. Instead, our guide, David, took us to a beginning a little farther back, so we would get to enjoy the view of the peninsula as it unfolded before us.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
Walkers on the tourist trail

The hike was a pretty easy one, with a well trodden clear, flat path. The only pitfall was the strong winds, but given the fantastic sunny weather, we bore this downside quite well.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
Hiking towards the peninsula

We began by walking alongside a fence on a raised bit of land before we cut down towards the main starting point for the rest of the walkers on the peninsula. Once we reached the base of the peninsula, we made this timelapse, in spite of the blasting winds. You can find more about it in our post “Ponta de São Lourenço Timelapse“.

We commented on how stunningly green the entire area was. Our guide told us that it usually wasn’t like this – for most of the year, Sao Lourenco was barren, made of red and grey rock. It was the unusually high rainfall that resulted in the current sprouting of grasses and blooming of so many varieties of wild flowers.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco, madeira
A field of flowering succulents

At the main starting point, there was quite a lot of people and a bit of a bottleneck. The upside to so many visitors of course is that the route is very well maintained, wide, and relatively easy to walk. The only thing that made it slightly challenging was the really strong wind, which blasted right off the Atlantic ocean.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
The peninsula winding out into the Atlantic

The peninsula was truly beautiful, with the path undulating up and down, rising to a final lookout point before winding back towards the mainland.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco, madeira
The ocean meeting the land

The views from the path were absolutely stunning, with the endless horizon in the distance when you looked up front, and the precarious, vertical cliffs of the peninsula curving to the left and right when you turned back.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
A swooping vista of the peninsula

The portion I enjoyed the most was when the path dipped down slightly into a saddle like formation before rising again to lead to the lookout point with the most stunning views over the ocean. The saddle was completely covered in vivid green shrubbery, with wildflowers clinging to the vertical rock, hanging over the path like so many colourful dew drops.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
The Pride of Madeira, the flower native to the island

The further out onto the peninsula you go, the less people you have to compete for space with on the track. We were lucky enough to have a bit of space along to ourselves at times. During those moments, we really felt how remote we were out on this island floating in the vast Atlantic ocean.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
Madeira’s land mass peters out into a series of disjointed islands that form the peninsula

The way back was admittedly a tad tedious, as we’d already seen everything, and we had to jostle with walkers coming in the other way, and of course, the infernal wind. But nevertheless, the consistently stunning views made everything better.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
The impressive cliffs that edge the island of Madeira

As we hiked through a small valley on our way back to where we started, we spotted a kestrel hovering over a bush. His behaviour looked odd, so we stood for a while and watched. After a few moments, it suddenly made a dive into the bush and pulled out what looked like a large rodent!

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
A kestrel in flight

It was quite exciting for us to see this bird of prey in action. So when you’re in the area, keep a look out for these birds – watching them hunt is quite a privilege.

Although we visited the Peninsula of Sao Lourenco around the middle of the day, it might be worth visiting a little later to enjoy the sunset over the landform as you hike back to the mainland. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time, and count ourselves lucky for having got the opportunity to view it while it was in full bloom.

Peninsula Sao Lourenco
A symphony in blue – Islas Desertas, islands adrift in the Atlantic Ocean