Garajau is located just to the east of Funchal Bay. This marine protected area (MPA) is a very special one, as it was the first MPA in Portugal that solely protects the marine area. Garajau is an area running from Ponta do Lazareto to Ponta da Oliveira, from the high tide line into the sea to a depth of 50 meters and covers a total of 376 hectares.
Garajau is a strictly regulated MPA. Any type of fishing activity is forbidden inside this MPA, with the exception of live bait capture. Navigation is also limited, allowing only small boats to access the beach in a perpendicular course to the coast.
Why is it important?
The Garajau MPA was created as an initiative from Madeirans that realised the importance of conserving marine biodiversity of the area. The aim of this MPA was to create a nursery where fish can find an undisturbed refuge to reproduce and spend their early life stages.
The waters are crystal clear and since its protection, marine life is flourishing here. The large dusky groupers (Ephinephelus marginatus) are one of the main attractions and thousands of divers come here every year to admire these grumpy-looking, but friendly and almost hand-tame creatures.
Diving in the Garajau MPA is probably the most rewarding dive you will do on Madeira Island.
Marine fauna is abundant and colourful and include schools of barracudas and damsel fish, sea spiders, clown shrimp hiding in the anemones, hogfish, Mediterranean rainbow wrasses or brown eagle rays and groupers getting cleaned at the cleaning station above the sand. On a lucky day, you can spot a manta ray, a loggerhead turtle or even a Mediterranean monk seal!
So, what are you waiting for? Get your suit, fins and mask and dive in!
There are several dive centres nearby that will take you by boat to Garajau MPA.