Madeira is an island of astonishing contrasts. From the big-city sophistication of the capital, Funchal, it is a short step to the primeval woodland that cloaks the dramatic cliffs and canyons of the island’s interior. The fertility of Madeira’s flower-filled gardens is in marked contrast to the aridity of the island’s volcanic peaks. And nothing could be more different than the gentle rippling of the levadas (canals), which carry water into Madeira’s deepest valleys, and the crash of the waves that dash the island’s rocky shores. Madeira has been called a place where all the continents meet. It has something of them all – including snow.
The Archipelago’s horizon extends beyond itself. It brings a moment alone with nature and gives us the chance to know Atlantic Ocean’s beauty, calm and strength first hand. Its stunning blue almost melts with the sky and offers every visitor an amazing experience with lots to explore.
Madeira has several beaches along the Island with fresh and crystal waters, ideal to spend a relaxed afternoon, dive and feel the nature in all its fullness. Although many of these can already count on accesses to the sea, made to facilitate entering the water, there are some beaches with little human intervention where you can meet the famous “calhau” (pebbles), typical from these beaches. Words are always few to describe places like these.
NATURAL POOLS – VOLCANIC
Porto Moniz and Seixal’s natural pools are salt water pools, made by volcanic rocks in which the sea enters naturally. These locate at Madeira island’s north coast and have a stunning view over the Atlantic and over the entire coast. In these pools, it is possible to see the green landscapes over the deep blue sea, and therefore enjoy something truly special. This are fine examples of the Madeira’s nature magnificence.
SEA ACTIVITIES – ACTIVE TOURISM
Madeira’s mild climate allows the practice of all kinds of sports and leisure outdoor activities throughout the year. There are many choices of nautical activities, in full contact with the ocean, among a wide variety that goes from more relaxing activities to more traditional or radical sports.
Surf e Windsurf
For surf lovers who enjoy big waves, Madeira is becoming an increasingly attractive destination with some of the best world spots, indicated by international surfers that say Madeira is Atlantic’s Hawaii. On the other side, the calmer waters of the island’s south coast, with better accesses to the sea, fewer waves and constant winds are an excellent place to practice windsurf.
Stand up paddle
This sport allows the visitor to stay in shape while relaxing his/her mind in the sea enjoying the beauty of the coast. These are the reasons that make Madeira the ideal place to practice stand up paddle surf, given its unique coastal landscapes. Madeira is an excellent site to practice this sport on your own or with your family enjoying the best of nature with your body and soul.
Dolphins and Whale Watching and Boat Tours
Madeira’s coast holds a rich fauna ready to be discovered. Its sea bottom is more than 3000 m deep. A boat tour allows you to enjoy many surprises while coming across a whale or a friendly group of dolphins. This way, you can still relax and enjoy a day in the beach in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Diving and Snorkelling
The excellent visibility, a sunk ship turned into a coral reef and several friendly animals, turn this immersive “blue world” into an irresistible attraction for any diver. This can be compared to entering a different universe with colours, shapes and treasures that make each minute an unmatched experience. One of this archipelago’s features is the fact that there is a corridor for migratory and epipelagic species. In addition, Madeira has the country’s older marine reserves in which there are species of mild and tropical climates, as well as species with continental affinity, giving rise to very special and interesting ecological phenomena. Water temperature (17-24 ºC) during the year is also very welcoming.
Canoeing in Madeira Island is fun and thrilling. Despite the fact that there are no rivers or lakes, there is a huge calm sea surface attracting canoeists. If you are a beginner, you can hire a guide to go on a safe tour.
Sport Fishing – Big Game Fishing
In a privileged area with many migratory routes like the Atlantic Blue Marlin and the Bigeye, it is not surprising that some of the world records of this modality were achieved in Madeira, being known as one of the world’s best places for sport fishing. Tuna, Albacore, Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Shortfin Mako Shark, Hammer Shark, Barracuda, Skipjack Tuna, Wahoo and Swordfish are other species you can find in this location.
Madeira presents amazing living pictures full of colour and movement that will make you want visit the island times and times again.
In addition, its natural area is so diversified and magnificent that you can choose to practice a calmer or a radical activity to raise your adrenaline.
One of Madeira’s most attractive points is located in its exuberant landscape. Madeira’s indigenous forest “Laurissilva” was recognized by UNESCO, in 1999, as a World Heritage Nature Site, being one of the highest points of any trip to this archipelago. Laurissilva Forest is mainly characterized by large-scale trees. Here you can enjoy surprising and breath-taking landscapes full of colour and movement that will stimulate all your senses.
- NATURAL PARK
Madeira’s natural park was founded in 1982 and is classified as a Biogenetic Reserve in which there are unique fauna and flora. This area extends for 2/3 of the Island. There are always many places to explore. It is possible to visit the Natural Reserves of Desertas and Selvagens, to dive in the Marine Reserves of Garajau, Sítio da Rocha do Navio and in Porto Santo’s Network of Marine Protected Areas.
Levadas are irrigation channels found in Madeira’s island. They originate in the need to bring large amounts of water from the island’s north side, where there is a high abundance of water, to its south side. They are about 3,000 km long and you can cover them by foot, accessing the heart of the island, where you will encounter breath-taking landscapes. Usually open in the soil, some levadas have torn the rocks over pits, hundreds of metres deep, while others cross the mountains, from north to south, by means of tunnels, hundreds of metres long. Here you can enjoy the best views and take advantage of the perfect symbiosis between Man and Nature.
GARDENS AND PARKS
Madeira is known not only by its natural beauty, but also by its gardens and parks that show a great diversity of flowers, plants and trees, carefully handled almost like an exhibition. A visit to these gardens demonstrates how nature can exist right at the middle of a city’s cosmopolitanism, therefore showing the outcome of the combination between the island’s fantastic climate and fertile soils. These gardens and parks arise from a unique combination of factors, therefore being incredibly fascinating.
Madeira and Porto Santo’s mild climate allow the practice of all types of outdoor sport and leisure activities in any season. Choices are diverse, like nautical, terrestrial and aerial modalities that go from a variety of relaxing activities to traditional or more radical sports.
Madeira is a real canyoning sanctuary with several routes surrounded by green and impressive landscapes, offering an experience being comparison in any season. Regardless of your practice level, canoeing provides you with a radical way to know the heart of the island. You can always count on the help of a guide that will follow you throughout the entire route.
In Madeira, you can participate in new events that include technical routes in mountain areas with slopes and creeks. Ideal for those who like to overcome their limits. Each route is a challenge without a deadline, where you can enjoy amazing scenarios and constant surprises. Madeira holds three international trail events every year, formed by different routes and expertise levels, being attended by many national and international athletes. These are MIUT – Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Ultra Sky Marathon and Ecotrail.
Madeira turns a walk into much more than a simple route made by foot. This is an intense outdoor experience in which everything is magical and fascinating. To see the most fantastic and surprising landscapes there is nothing better than to make the whole trajectory by food, crossing the pedestrian trails or walking along the levadas. There are several routes in Madeira. Some of them are easier, for those who simply want to walk and enjoy nature. Others are more demanding, but also stunning due to their exuberance. Jointly they make an overall area of 2000 km to explore.
Madeira has excellent roads and trails ready to be explored in times of energy, reflection and communion with nature. Do not miss the opportunity to explore enthusiastically explore the island along dirt tracks and in the company of other cyclists.
The region’s mountains and forests offer unforgettable feelings and unique landscapes extended into the ocean. Off-road has been gaining fans throughout the Archipelago that have experienced memorable exciting moments.
Madeira island’s mountains offer excellent spots to take off on paraglider or hand-wings. Jumping into adventure stimulates all kinds of feelings and the view is always breath-taking. If you cannot experience this, there is always the chance of tandem jumps – jumping with a pilot that ensures you experience the adrenaline while being perfectly safe.
Madeira and Porto Santo is a popular destination for the eager golf players, being a place of choice to experience the best this sport has to give. Good atmospheric conditions, two excellent golf course and a fantastic environment provide amateur and professional golf players with a challenging game.
Porto Santo is the second largest Island of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, having turquoise waters and a very calm atmosphere.
Porto Santo is a small paradise located at a distance of 50 km from Madeira island and is known by its long and beautiful golden sands that extend almost over the whole island. This island provides a calm and relaxing atmosphere, where sand and waters have known therapeutic qualities making them ideal for treating joints, bones and muscles. Porto Santo has an international airport that makes the daily connection between the island and Madeira, with this trip having the duration of 15 minutes. There is also the possibility of travelling by boat, in a ferry named “Lobo Marinho”, which is in fact the most used mean of transportation between Madeira and Porto Santo.
PORTO SANTO BEACH
Its sands extend for more than 9 km. The water is calm, crystal clear and its temperature is mild. This is the reason why Porto Santo is on the map of the most idyllic destinations, having been voted the best dune beach in the contest “7 Maravilhas – Praias de Portugal”. Additionally, beach sands have scientifically proven therapeutic features also helping to accelerate bone fracture recoveries. Its waters high content of iodine, calcium and magnesium also make Porto Santo the ideal place to recover from the lack of body minerals.
Porto Santo beach stands out due to its carbonated sands, formed by coral, shell and sea urchin sediments. Science has shown that this sand has therapeutic features that help in the treatments of rheumatic and bone disorders, being one of the elements integrating treatments developed by the Centre of Geomedicine of Porto Santo. The island’s sea water is also used for thalassotherapy, due to its high strontium, chromium, iodine content, which are elements beneficial to health. In the same way, the island’s spring water is also rich in components (like sodium bicarbonate) that are essential to human well-being. Treatments offered include stress, tiredness, fatigue, sedentariness, food deficiencies, intoxications caused by smoking, osteoarthritis, digestive disorders and post-partum recovery, among others.
Porto Santo offers a variety of activities to visitors on vacation. From golf, water sports, diving, sport fishing or event walking tours, there is a great diversity of choice depending on style or preference.
Porto Santo is visited for diving lovers for a long time, due to the clarity, good temperature and beauty of its waters. There are several places to practice this activity, however, one of the most wanted locations is in the south area of the harbour. The ship “Madeirense” has sunk in this site in 2000, being an excellent attraction for divers. In 2016, a new artificial reef was created after the corvette “General Pereira D’Eça” has also sunk. This locates in the coastal area of Porto Santo, between the Harbour, by west, and small islands of Cima, by east, in a Protected Marine Area. In Porto Santo, there is a network of protected marine areas, formed by the small islands surrounding the island and the two aforementioned artificial reefs.
Stand Up Paddle
Porto Santo presents the ideal conditions for the practice of Stand Up Paddle (also known as SUP), therefore providing a relaxing nautical experience. This calm sport is ideal for the whole family.
Porto Santo’s Golf Courses
Porto Santo offers a 18-hole par 72 course, and a 9-hole par 3 course named ‘Pitch and Putt’, easily finished under an hour. The golf course occupies a wide area providing the players with stunning views over the island’s south and north coasts.