Madeira Sanctuary

Fajã dos Padres

Do you ever put your feet up, listen to Jack Johnston tracks and dream of being transported to a perfect spot somewhere on the globe where you can totally relax and get away from it all. I think I’ve just discovered it!

Bracing for the long descent...

Bracing for the long descent...

This is one of the best places I’ve ever encountered and if you come to Madeira, you really must plan to spend a few hours here. It’s Fajã dos Padres, only reachable by boat or by cable car. Pilar de Banger, a Turkish schooner, 23m length. En Route you can enjoy dolphins and whales. 

Fajã dos Padres has been an idyllic escape ever since it was discovered and developed into a Quinta (farm) by Jesuit priests in the 1700s. Today, it's still brimming with bananas, grapes, goats, mangoes, avocado and exotic fruits such as papaya, pitanga, passion fruit, pineapple, and even pomegranates.

The small bay and fertile strip of Fajã is now run by Emanuel and Isabel Jardim Fernandes, granddaughter of the man who purchased it from the Jesuits back in 1921. Basically, it’s a long strip protected by the high cliffs behind and a crystalline ocean to the fore which has been coaxed into a virtual Garden of Eden.

There's even a Madeira wine cellar and perhaps one of the best lunch restaurants on the islands. We started in the wine cellar (would you believe) taking a tour with Isabel.

Fajã dos Padres, Madeira, © David J Whyte @

Madeira Malvasia wine otherwise known as Malmsey is the sweetest form of Madeira with twice the residual sugar as the island's other fortified wines such as Sercial or Madeira Verdelho. 

Fajã dos Padres, Madeira, © David J Whyte @

Malmsey's fame goes back to the Elizabethan era when Shakespeare included it in Richard III. The Duke of Clarence was drowned in the 'malmsey-butt'. and his ghost moaned that he was 'wash'd to death with fulsome wine'. What a way to go!

Restaurant Fajã dos Padres

Isabel treated us to an aperitif or two before we made out way to lunch. The restaurant in Fajã dos Padres completes the visit to the property, making it truly unique. The restaurant is exceptional. Run by Madeiran Chef Amândio Gonçalves, he makes the most of the products from the vegetable garden along with local meat and of course fresh fish is on the doorstep. We started with Grilled Limpets and Salted Tuna. The best dish is probably the Black Scabbard Fish with Mango - at least it was my favourite. 

Chef also served up his own salted octopus recipe with Curry à la crème. Absolutely delicious!

Fajã dos Padres, Madeira, © David J Whyte @

I’d say this is maybe the best food on the island. 

Unless you’re staying which I’d dearly love to do at some time, it’s only open from 10am till 6pm but bring your appetite, swimming costume and make a day of it. You can sunbathe by the pier or simply sit in the restaurant loungers until it's time to go home. 

David J WhyteComment