Upon arriving at Madeira’s main airport near Santa Cruz you will catch of a glimpse of the East of the island. The coastline on the very East of Madeira is particularly interesting with a thin stretch of cliffs extending out to the sea.
The east of Madeira is dotted with towns every few miles or so. Santa Cruz is the town nearest to Madeira’s airport. Further along the coast you reach the towns of Machico and Canical before reaching the thin jagged cliffs at the very east. Machico is a small sleepy town which is pretty enough but with not much to recommend it. Canical is home to a whaling museum.
The pretty and dramatic coastline up past Canical on towards Prainha at the very east of the island is an ecological park and there are footpaths so you can enjoy exploring this area. Take care though – it is not advisable to take young children or pets as some areas are without barriers and there are potentially lethal cliff drops.
The ecological park up past Prainha:
If you rent a car you have the freedom to explore the island at your leisure. It is very nice to be able to stop to take in a view or to inspect a clump of wild flowers. There are buses that traverse yhe island but do not provide the same degree of freedom that you have with car hire.