Madeira: an island belonging to Portugal!

Things you did not know about Madeira! Madeira is 57Km Long (35miles) and 20Km wide (13miles)! Madeira Island is closer to Africa than it is to Europe. Located just 280 nautical miles from the African coast, it is more than 500 miles / 805Km to Lisbon. The island has the world’s largest fireworks display for New Years Eve - as featured in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006. Madeira island is home to Europe’s tallest sea cliff- more than 580m above the sea- Cabo Girão. There are more than 25 miles / 40KMs of tunnels throughout the island. Most of these were built throughout the 16th century. There are more than 1,350 miles (2,170 km) of levadas (irrigation ducts) and they provide a remarkable network of walking paths. It is known as the Spring Island due to its year round lush vegetation and incredible diversity of flowers.

Thanks to Covid our original travel plans to Sri Lanka and the Maldives were cancelled at short notice as the Maldives went Red … we checked out the Green countries and the only option for us travelling from the UK was Portugal including Madeira and Azores….Prior to this trip the only thing we knew about Madeira was that it produced a fortified wine which we use in our chicken liver parfait recipe! Our travel agent raved about the island as his parents have a home there…without any further ado the flights were booked!

British Airways fly from Heathrow but all their flights were fully booked to mid-July! We managed to find the last four seats on the vastly overpriced TUI flights from Gatwick – but at least we were getting away… We were surprised to learn that Madeira has one of the most dangerous airports in the world – the runway is tiny and there are often strong cross winds!

Our Itinerary was pretty jam packed because once we started reading up on what to do there we discovered that it really is the island of adventure! Despite it being a very active itinerary, we kept the afternoons free to relax by the pool at our hotels which were all very different. Our first night was at the very comfortable Porto Mare which would make an ideal base; Most unusual was glamping in a wonderful rustic eco-friendly ti-pi at Canto Das Fontes (never felt so Zen!); two nights at the Savoy Palace (OK…but a HUGE 5 star which does not really float my boat); few nights at Reid’s Palace (It is a Belmond which says it all – my favourite!); Aqua Nature Madeira (great room right on the ocean with so many nice gestures and complimentary gifts from the hotel) and Hotel Quinta Do Furao, Santana (another great find with good food and lovely views).

Day 1: Arrival in Funchal at 18h35

Day 2: Funchal at leisure including the stunning Botanical Gardens, Tropical Gardens, The MUST DO Toboggan Run, The Old Town street art and the market (Beware Fruit Sellers!). Note: The Cable car was closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Day 3: am: Golf at Santo da Serra Golf Club (phone ahead to check weather conditions as often covered in cloud – we had to cancel); Cabo Girao ; lunch at Faja dos Padres (a well kept secret, accessible by cable car – Book ahead!) and finally the Alecrim Levada Walk (7Kms).

Day 4: am: Swimming with Dolphins with Rota dos Cetáceos and chilling at Savoy Palace

Day 5: am: Paul’s Birthday! A day of food glorious food! Walking Food and Wine tour in Funchal and Michelin-starred dining at Reid’s Palace.

Day 6: Relaxed by pool am. In the afternoon drove to Porto Moniz and started our mountain bike riding at 1pm.

Day 7: am: Canyoning

Day 8: Sunrise at Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo and back 14Km

Day 9: am: Scuba Diving, pm Picnic Under the Palms at Reid’s Palace

Day 10: am: Deep Sea Fishing

Day 11: Flight Home at 11:00am

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Portugal
Portugal
Portugal