On the northern part of Madeira Island, in Portugal, there’s a rather peculiar and dangerous road called Estrada Regional 101 (ER101). Due to Madeira' s dramatic coast line, the road has many curves, narrow passages and steep climbs and descents, and is rugged, slow and old. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world.
It is the oldest and most beautiful road of the island. This one-direction paved road runs along the ocean, with several cliffs and tunnels through the rock and was built after the World War II. The peculiarity of this road, apart from its narrowness, is that along the path, in the rainy season, there are waterfalls that cascade down from the sheer cliff and sparkle in the sunshine. The locals refer to stretches of the road as the "free car wash". On stormy days, the waves arrive up some points on the road, sweeping away all those who circulate around. Some stretches of the road are collapsed.
The drive deemed too dangerous due to rock falls. Usage is under exclusive and only responsibility of users. Many parts of the road have been renewed with bridges and tunnels, allowing most of the island to be in acceptable reach from Funchal. Some parts of the old ER101 however remains in good condition and are still accessible. Due to the many views on the coast and the Atlantic, this is absolutely the road to be taken by tourists. The old road is still in use between Sao Vicente and Boaventura. The portion between Ponta Delgada and Boaventura is not for the faint hearted but definitely worth a drive. The passengers really enjoy the scenery but the driver must remain concentrated on the road.
This part of the road is one of the top tourist attractions of the island. For safety reasons there is a one-way traffic on many parts. The surface of the road is paved. On the North of Madeira the coastal road is more spectacular. Even though you're driving close to the sea, it looks more like a mountain road. From time to time the road gets very narrow. Along the way you hope there won't be any opposite traffic. The coastal road is narrow and winds up and down, left and right. At times you have the ocean underneath or a waterfall crashing on the roof, you drive through a weeping tunnel or get a free carwash.