The North Madeira landscape is dramatic indeed, both on the rocky jagged coast where swimming options tend to be naturally formed lido pools at Porto Moniz or wild surfing off the pebble beach at Sao Vicente. Inland North Madeira is dramatic walking territory, with ancient laurissilva forests mingling with some of Madeira's highest peaks. A visit to the fascintating volcanically formed caves at Sao Vicente is unmissible. Madeira's north coastal road is demanding driving indeed, but well worth the effort for the dramatic coastal scenery here.
Increasingly too there's a good choice of family holiday entertainment including the popular Madeira Theme Park at Santana with its 4 multimedia pavilions and how about that natural lido at Porto Moniz and the cable car over to Achadas da Cruz. Walkers will be in their element, basing themselves either at Santana or Sao Roque do Faial, for easy access to trails and levada walks inland, and to dramatic volcanically formed peaks. Get ready to be wowed up north on Madeira, as most of the ancient Laurissilva forests are to the north in Madeira Nature park. In all these Laurissilva forests on Madeira cover 20 percent of the island. They've survived here on Madeira, and over on the Canary Islands - particularly La Gomera and La Palma. You'll find them nowhere else in Europe - only on these islands did the Lauriisilva forests survive the ice age and subsequent Portuguese settlement clearance.
Sao Vicente is now one of Madeira's prettiest centres, receiving much attention and restoration in recent years. The Grutas de Sao Vicente cave system is the big crowd pull in the area - naturally formed volcanic caves evolving some 400,000 years ago.
The Sao Vicente volcanically formed caves are a popular Madeira day trip. A visit to these fascinating lava channels involves a walk through the caves, plus exibits explaining the details of their formation.
Porto Moniz on the North Western tip of Madeira might be a remotely located Madeira resort, but it bustles in peak season particularly when the coach trips pour in. A choice of seafood restaurants combine with natural lava swimming pools on the coast here at Porto Moniz, pulling in the crowds. It's an up and coming Madeira resort.
Santana toward the north east of Madeira is situated on the hillside and is a most attractive village with distinctive palheiros cottages - essentially triangular shaped cottages with pretty thatched roofs that reach to the ground. Grain used to be stored in the upper floors.
Madeira folk dancing is renowned here - visit Santana holds a regional folk dancing festival in early September annually. Santana is also a hotspot base for walking holidays on Madeira, with a choice of stunning rambles and Levada walks branching out from the village and easy access to Parque Natural da Madeira and the rare laurisilva forests here.
Still in the province of Santana, just to the south of Santana is Sao Roque do Faial, the starting point to numerous walks and trails inland towards some of Madeira's highest peaks, and the Parque Natural de Madeira.