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The village of Caniçal

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General presentationGeneral information
Caniçal is a small village of fishermen and formerly the center of the industry of the whale until 1982, date on which it was prohibited. The fishermen embarked on board frail boats frayed to harpoon the Cetacea. Today, the cachalots hardly any more attend the coasts, but Caniçal, after having vegetated a few years, became one of the first Portuguese ports for fishing with tuna, activity important whose dimensions testify to the harbor installations and the canning facility.


The village of Caniçal is in the part is Madeira, to 35 km of Funchal. It is easy access from the town of Machico, by its new trunk road or the old road of Fascist Pico C, where one can better benefit from the splendid landscape.


Museu da Baleia
Close to the old port, with the bottom of the village, this small museum of the whale present of many objects of which a model of whale at real scale, some harpoons, models of boats, photographs, two documentary films and many other things (teeth of cachalot or bones engraved) which evoke hunting for the whale whose Caniçal between 1940 and 1981 lived. It is one of the best whalers of the village which, having made against misfortune good heart, founded this remarkable Musée of the Whale.

The old techniques of the whaling, the use which was made flesh, bones and oil of whale there are explained and one can view a film on the whaling. The exposed whale-boat seems a frail wherry beside the model life size of a cachalot.

Capela de Nossa Senhora da Piedade
The hermitage of Our Lady of Pity is drawn up on a monticule which dominates the beach of Prainha.
Praya de Prainha
A staircase goes down from the vault of Nossa Senhora da Piedade towards the foot of cliff where, framed of two shredded spurs of lava, the beach of Prainha is stretched. This small sand beach black (fines particles of volcanic lava of origin), does not have anything spectacular, but it is the single natural beach of the Madeira.
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Bridged of São Lourenço
Beyond Caniçal, the road crosses the red ground, sorry and punt of the Eastern end of the island and finishes a little further in cul-de-sac with a carpark close to the bay Baia da Abra.

When the caravel of the Zarco navigator kept in mind this point of the island in 1420, the sailor would have pronounced the sentence “Ahead, Saint Laurent”, from where denomination of the place: it is the Saint Laurent point with its spectacular volcanic rock formations with tons ocher, reds and blacks is stretched far in the sea, with sights absolutely sublimes on the Atlantic; a landscape completely different moreover from the island.

The Saint Laurent point is a peninsula, called the “dragon”, beaten by the floods and the winds, as testify some the many wind mills which roughcast the landscape, even if it is a natural reserve since 1982.

. Click to enlarge the image.Carpark, a path leads to a point of view from where one discovers rocks surprising and of many kinds of plants, from which one benefits better foot, like the halophyte, the immortal one, cardoon and well of others. It is the starting point of a footpath which enables you to make it tower of the peninsula in about three hours.

With broad of the point draw up Ilhéu de Fora (the small island Broad), with its headlight, and Ilhéu back Desembarcadouros. Certain extremely rare plants of this small island could be authentic vestiges of the flora of Atlantis. Here fossils of a flora were discovered that certain geologists date from the tertiary era.

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Miradouro of Bridged do Rosto
View-point of bridged do Restaurant, one discovers impressive sights on the abrupt coast, beaten by the floods, of the north of the Madeira.
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History and traditionsHistory, literature, arts, traditions, legends, religions, myths, symbols…

In Caniçal, one started to practice the whaling in 1940: whalers come from the Azores taught with their colleagues how to track this colossus (up to 20 m length) that its migrations lead sometimes until the end is of Madeira.

The men of Caniçal left at sea in simple boats out of wooden, towed by the only cutter of the village. They engaged the fight against the cachalot with a lot of harpoons and of lances. While the men of crew endeavoured to maintain the boat more close possible animal, the truncadores tried to reach it their lances until completing it at the conclusion often of several hours of combat. The corpse was towed with ground and was then detailed on the spot.

Caniçal was formerly a famous port for the whaling but, since this fishing was prohibited in this water in 1981, all that remains of this industry, formerly lucrative, is a museum of the Whale.

Since Portugal has ratifies in 1981 these agreements of Washington on protected spaces, the marine mammals can again venture without fear in trimmings: one sees still, very seldom, of the whales close to Caniçal, but Caniçal remains always an active fishing port.

Caniçal saw also much the tourist development of bridged of very close São Lourenço.

InformationPractical informations

General information
In the port of Caniçal, the fishing boats, all the year, and a service of high-speed motorboats in season, make it possible to reach the extreme point of bridged of São Lourenço.

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