Ponta de São Lourenço

So after my abortive attempt to walk the Levada do Furado, I found myself rather glumly heading back to Funchal on the bus, with more than half the day gone. What could I do to rescue the afternoon? At Balcoes, I'd met a Norwegian couple who'd been here for a week and a half, and conversationally asked them if there was any particular favourite levada walk they'd done which they'd recommend. Their response was the Ponta de São Lourenço: not a levada, they noted apologetically, but extremely beautiful nonetheless.

So I checked my guidebook's handy appendix of bus timetables to see if there was any hope of getting there, and if it was to be believed, I was in luck. A 113 bus was heading there from Funchal at 14:30, maybe 15 minutes after I expected to get back.

I wasn't entirely confident, because only certain services went as far as the peninsula, with most stopping short at the town of Caniçal. I knew that I didn't have enough daylight to wait for a second bus, or to walk from Caniçal, or even try and get a taxi from there. Either this bus would get me to the point, or the idea would be a wash-out. The guidebook had the little symbol indicating this was one of the few buses going all the way, but it was a year or two since it'd been printed, I wasn't going to bet my house on it.

It was Friday 13th after all.... would be a nice writerly thing to write here, but the truth is I had no idea of that at the time, being in holiday mode and oblivious as to the date.

Dying sun over Ponta de São Lourenço

Somewhat later than expected we pulled in at Funchal, not longer before the 113 bus was due to leave. I quickly jogged round the sea wall redevelopment, which irritatingly turned a 1 minute walk between bus stops into a rather longer one. Nonetheless, I had just enough time to spare to grab this sunny view of the cathedral, which I'd shot almost every day, but always when cloudy and overcast.

At the bus stop, somewhat unusually, was a (rather ancient-looking) printed timetable of routes served, and I set about double-checking the validity of my plan.

Oh, bugger. There is no 14:30 bus, and the next bus there is to Caniçal, stops there.

At this point a 113 bus pulls up. "Ponta de São Lourenço?", I ask the driver hopefully. "Yes!" he nods, and once again I realise that my printed-in-a-foreign-country-in-2012 guidebook is a far more accurate guide to bus timetables than the bus companies' own information displayed at the bloody bus-stops.

Cathedral, sunny day

A 45-minute journey lay ahead, so I grabbed myself a coast-side window seat, dialled up Spiritualized's Lazer Guided Melodies, and sat back to enjoy the view.

Oops. Barely beyond Funchal, this coming-together held us up for a while.


I was excited by this remarkable view of much remarkable civil engineering - the Via Rapide snaking under the Funchal airport runway, extended over the sea on giant concrete pillars.

But mostly I was frustrated by not being on the Via Rapide, as 90 minutes of prime daylight passed, and not reaching the Ponta until nearly 4pm.

Funchal airport runway extension (dodgy bus window photo)

But arrive I eventually did. Five minutes from the car park, the distinctive shape of this improbably-dramatically-shaped peninsula lay spread before me.

Ponta de São Lourenço

Like The Rumps...

I was immediately reminded of The Rumps, a jutting spine of cliff from Pentire Point, on the North Cornwall coast.

See how they share a swooping profile, reminiscent of a half-submerged dragon.

The Rumps The Rumps

... on steroids

But the similarity to my eye was decieving; once my brain fully grasped the scale of this view, noticing the small boat below the cliffs, it became clear this was more like The Rumps put through some Alice style incredible-magic-growing mushroop-trip.

One narrow, sheer-edged convace isthmus became three or four. The Rumps is maybe 300m/1000ft long; this stretched a couple of miles ahead of me.

Ponta de São Lourenço

And while the north Cornwall coast does have stripey rock in the cliffs, these huge, rich red strata were another level of exotic.


I noticed how tiny the people looked.

Ponta de São Lourenço

and tried taking a photo to that effect.

The colours aren't really vivid enough. I'd spent the week in manual mode, and I was getting better, but I'm still not good enough a photographer to reliably capture the exposure I want.


Seahorse rocks

My guidebook promised me "their colours are astounding: they seem almost flourescent", so I was a little disappointed to find them in shadow.

The red cliffs opposite were glowing in the sun, though.

'Seahorse rocks' at Ponta de São Lourenço Ponta de São Lourenço Ponta de São Lourenço

Amazing geology everywhere

Spectrum of red rock / seam / shadow self-portrait

Sea stack cove

Cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço

with amazing seams

Strata in the cliff, close-up

a sea stack

Cliff and sea stack

catching waves

Sea stack at Ponta de São Lourenço

Ridiculously visible geology

Seams in the red cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço
Seams in the red cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço Gap in the cliff / shadow self-portrait
A gap in the cliff

Over the saddle

Looking back Ponta de São Lourenço Cliffs at Ponta de São Lourenço Ponta de São Lourenço

As far as I had time to go

Long way down Strata in the cliff as the sun begins to set Ponta de São Lourenço

Setting sun, heading back

Silhouetted walker at sunset Ponta de São Lourenço Heading back towards the setting sun Ponta de São Lourenço

Layers of distant mountains

Dying sun over Ponta de São Lourenço Shadowy mountains in the distance behind Ponta de São Lourenço Shadowy mountains and walker on the clifftop (zoom)

Aerial exit

Went here and took photos.
Aerial Ponta de São Lourenço Aerial Ponta de São Lourenço