Activities for you and the kids
There are several seafront attractions in the town to keep you active and the kids happy. The Praia das Palmeiras is the town’s public lido facility where you can spend a laid-back few hours swimming and sunbathing. It offers a large swimming pool, smaller paddling pools for children and floating platforms, which are anchored out at sea. The complex is free to enter and has a small cafe for snacks and drinks.
Santa Cruz also has its own waterpark called Aquaparque, which is located just outside the main town. It offers a range of exciting water rides with slides, tubes and rapids. Plus there’s a toddler-friendly zone with fun baby slides and shallow water features to splash around and play in.
Palmeiras Beach is an ideal destination for a beach day with on-site attractions suitable for all ages. This pebble beach offers clear, calm water and all the amenities you could ask for. It has two swimming pools – one for adults and one for children, changing rooms and showers.
For those who like to get out on the fairways, there are two excellent golf courses nearby at Santo de Serra and Palheiro Golf Club, that will please golf enthusiasts.
Shopping and the town market
There’s a selection of supermarkets and small shops where you’ll find all the essentials for your visit to Santa Cruz. In nearby Canico De Baixo there’s also a large shopping centre which you can reach using the frequent local bus service.
Santa Cruz also has its own permanent market, which is housed in a fine modernist building with striking ceramic panels. Here you can buy local produce including fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, as well as items such as ceramics and handicrafts.
Architecture and history to explore
Between beach days and other activities you can choose to explore some of the town’s several attractive churches. The Church of Santa Cruz da Graciosa was originally built in the 16th century. It has a picturesque facade with an ornate stonework doorway, windows and bell tower. Inside you’ll find an impressive 16th-century wooden altarpiece and beautiful 18th-century Portuguese tiled azulejo panels.
A visit to the Church of St Saviour will provide a window into the interesting Manueline-Gothic architectural style. It was originally built by Portuguese King Manuel I and has three naves, a Gothic portal, a beautiful rose window and an ornate bell tower. Inside you can admire Baroque finishes with neo-classical gilding.
Lush greenery, sealife and dolphins
Holidays to Madeira have much to offer in terms of nature and wildlife, which you can easily explore from Santa Cruz. The surrounding area has many local nature trails and walks where you can take your time to admire the views, or take some great photos of the lush sub-tropical vegetation and birds. You could meander in the cool green forests, or take a look at the levadas – mini-canals – and explore where they lead.
The warm water around Madeira is home to an abundance of exotic, colourful sea life and the area is well-known for its pods of wild dolphins. You may get a glimpse from the shoreline of dolphins at play or leaping out of the sea. But if that’s not enough there are opportunities to get a closer look with scuba diving and snorkelling excursions available locally. If surfing is more your thing, you can always take a few classes at the Santa Cruz Surf School.