If you prefer to self-cater, Calhau Grande in the sunny south-coast village of Arco da Calheta is the perfect holiday location.
There are eight carefully restored cottages which have a cosy and authentically-Madeiran feel. The décor is simple: original hand-cut cedar beams and exposed basalt walls mixed with modern touches – they’re not busy or cluttered; just the comfortable-basics you’ll need for a relaxing stay. Each cottage has its own little private outdoor space, surrounded by fruit trees, organic vegetable patches and aromatic herbs where you can relax, eat and enjoy the sunsets. There’s also a lovely swimming pool with sun loungers and a panoramic view out across the Atlantic.
Your hosts are the Gouveia family – Senhor Eleuterio (father and head of the family) discovered Calhau Grande in ruins back in 1995. He immediately fell in love with their location and their potential – Casa Calhau was rebuilt first as a family home, before Eleuterio and his family began the careful restoration of all eight cottages:
Casa Calhau (a two-bedroom cottage for four): has a traditional kitchen with a wood-burning oven and electric hob, and an open-plan lounge-dining room (with a TV). Upstairs, there are two double bedrooms on the 1st floor opening out onto a shaded terrace and small garden.
Casa Sapateiro (a two-bedroom cottage for four): has an open-plan kitchenette-diner-lounge (with an optional single bed and TV) opening out onto a terrace and BBQ area. Upstairs, there are two double bedrooms on the 1st floor.
Casa Eira (a one-bedroom cottage for two): the ground floor is an open-plan kitchenette-diner-lounge, with a small double bedroom upstairs.
Casa Levada (a bungalow for two, or a couple with a toddler): has an open-plan kitchenette-diner-lounge (with an optional single bed), opening out onto a terrace and small garden, and a seperate double bedroom.
Casa Junior (a studio/bungalow sleeping two to four people): has an open-plan kitchenette-diner-lounge (with an optional double bed), opening out onto a terrace and small garden, and a separate double bedroom. Casa Junior is the closest cottage to the outdoor pool.
Casa Sol (a studio sleeping two to four people): has an open-plan ground floor with a double bed, kitchenette and a dining table opening out onto a terrace and BBQ area. Upstairs, there are twin beds on the 1st floor.
Casa Tenda (a studio/bungalow for two, or a couple with a toddler): has an open-plan layout with a double bed, a single bed, kitchenette and dining table opening out onto small balcony.
Casa Palha (a studio for two): has one floor, open-plan with a double bed, kitchenette and dining table opening out onto small balcony.
Daughter Sofia now looks after the day-to-day running of Calhau Grande and she’ll be waiting to greet you when you arrive. As you’re staying in a rural location, we normally recommend including a hire car to allow you to explore further afield. The town of Calheta is a short-drive away – the marina is a excellent jumping-off point for sailing and whale watching, and it’s a good place to shop for supplies. For your evenings, there’s a selection of friendly local café bars and restaurants within easy walking distance.
Calhau Grande is on the sunny south-west coast of Madeira, in the hills above Calheta. It's a very rural location and we recommend including a hire car during yoru stay; it's not crucial as our guides can show you aroudn the island, but it does allow you more freedom to explore.
South-west Madeira is home to some of the island’s easier levada walks, including the famous 25 Fontes trail. Calheta marina is close0by if you’d like to go whale watching or sailing.