Calheta, “the fertile land”, had its name from the narrow inlet that serves as its harbour. In fact, that is what Calheta actually means: narrow inlet. The name was given by the discoverers that first arrived there.
The parish of Calheta is characterised by being squeezed by high mountains, while at the same time embracing the sea.
A fine yellow Moroccan sand artificial beach built here is an ideal place for fun and relaxation for families with children. Lounging chairs and umbrellas may be rented right on the beach. There are many facilities surrounding Calheta beach such as a bar, changing rooms, showers and a marina (with many stores and restaurants).
Calheta was one of the first places being explored by the first colonizers, that went there straight after the island was discovered. Besides, it was one of the first locations in Madeira being subjected to farming.
The establishment of the civil parish dates back to 1430. At first, its headquarters were located at the chapel of Estrela. However, in the 19th century, they changed to the church of Espírito Santo, in the town of Calheta.
Calheta was raised to the category of town by royal charter, issued in 1825. Amongst the historical and cultural heritage, one points out the vast and valuable heritage of a religious nature existent in this civil parish. Calheta is one of the civil parishes in Madeira with the largest number of chapels.
The main economic activities include agriculture, trade and industry. The transforming industry became very strong with the flourishing of sugar. There were times when there were eight sugar mills in Calheta, of which only one is still in operation today.
This is a very rich area in terms of pisciculture, characterized by a great variety of fish.
Calheta has a very mild climate all year round. During the winter there is a high level of rainfall.
This parish has an area of about 23,47 km2 (5.800 acres), and a little more than three thousand inhabitants.