Santa Cruz is a small town of less than 30 000 inhabitants. Located on the eastern coast of the island of Madeira, 11 miles away from the capital of Funchal. The city is famous mainly for its airport, but also for the beach at Palmeiras. It has two natural swimming pools which are very pleasant as the beaches are strewn with pebbles rather than sand.
Remember to go to the House of Culture in Santa Cruz. Several art exhibitions are held there throughout the year. You will discover works by local and international artists. Santa Cruz has a popular water park located near the resort complex of Ribeira de Boaventura.
Near Santa Cruz, Camacha is known throughout the world for its folklore and its basket products. The craft shops offer many accessories and furniture made of wicker.
Visit in the autumn as the weather is a very pleasant 17°C to 20°C. In the spring, wait until March to avoid the rains. For a typical but very comfortable stay, choose a quinta (an old house transformed into a charming hotel). The cuisine is generally excellent, however, the swimming pool, proportionate to the number of rooms, is much smaller than in the larger hotels.
If you decide to go hiking along any of the superb levadas (irrigation canals on the island), do not leave without the proper equipment. The walk is often not very dangerous but prevention is better than getting hurt! It is important to wear good walking shoes and a jumper, the temperature is cooler at a higher altitude. It's not a bad idea to carry a flashlight to light your way through the unlit tunnels. Do not forget to bring water so that you are properly hydrated during the walk.
From swordfish to rabbit, octopus or cod - this is all typically Portugal. The corossols (cinammon apples), mangoes, papayas, passion fruit are a delight. For dessert or tea time, have a snack in one of the bakery-cafés in the centre of town with small cream cakes or cinnamon doughnuts.
Stock up on local Madeira wine, gingerbread cakes (which keep for several months), hand embroidered fabrics in the form of tablecloths, towels, table napkins, handkerchiefs and shirts and basket items. To buy wine from Madeira, start by trying some in a factory. Visit the embroidery museum in Funchal to learn how to distinguish the authentic hand made product from the rest.
Not far from Santa Cruz, in the small town of Santa da Serra ...