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Ponta do Sol

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Like its name tells, Ponta do Sol (sun's point) has one of the best climates in Madeira, favouring the growth of vineyards, bananas and exotic flowers, amongst other agricultural products.

From there tourists can drive to Paúl da Serra, a large plateau which contrasts with the mountains of the rest of the island and where only grass and gorse grow.

The thin soil and the volcanic layers act as a sort of natural reservoir: water from rainfall passes through the rocks and forms numerous springs which are used for Madeira's unique irrigation system, the levadas.

The levadas are narrow channels that take the water stored in lakes and cascades from the north to the drier and sunny south. They form a vast network and are used to irrigate banana plantations, vineyards and the gardens producing the island's famous flowers, but they also provide another of Madeira's tourist attractions: the levada walks.

For those who enjoy hiking, Rabaçal (in the plateau of Paúl da Serra) is the starting point for various footpaths that lead to parts of the island inacessible by road.

Tourists can choose a smaller or longer excursion, passing through many beauty spots, like Levada das 25 Fontes (25 springs), or Levada do Risco, with a magnificent waterfall falling from rocky peaks to the green valley below. Some of the paths are very narrow and steep to climb, but the scenery compensates all efforts.

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