If, like me, you thought Madeira was a nice island for granny and granddad, well you couldn’t be more wrong. This beautiful island has something for everyone of all ages! Let me tell you about my Madeira Adventure – this was a most life affirming experience – you can do Madeira at a leisurely pace, but for something a little more adventurous this is how we packed in unforgettable experiences in four days:
After a morning flight departure from London we headed straight to the capital, Funchal. After checking in to the contemporary and well located Melia Madeira Mare, my room facing over the terrace and gardens towards the blue sea, we headed to the Beer House Restaurant for a meal. Limpets here are a speciality and were delicious. After lunch we set off with our tour company for whale and dolphin observation. Spotters are located at high points on the island, and in no time we were joined by a group of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins who swam alongside our boat for some time. There is a strict guide on how many boats can be in the area and times are also restricted, these are wild animals after all and they were a joy to observe in their natural habitat. After a short swim in the warm sea along the coast, it was back to our hotel. Dinner was at Adega da Quinta where we enjoyed a traditional meal including the house specialty Espetada (beef skewer). The restaurant also has an impressive wine cellar and produces its own wine.
Begins with a drive up through beautiful forests along roads lined with hydrangeas and lilies to Ponto do Sol. At 1500 meters above sea level, this is the beginning of our three hour mountain bike tour. The ride took us through scrubby heathland and hilly terrain and offered fantastic views out to sea and over the mountains to Calherta, a green and lush landscape. I thought my fitness levels were quite good, but I guess cycling the Thames Path is not as ‘extreme’ as this environment. Rob, our guide, was keen to test our abilities and after an exhausting, but very enjoyable morning we drove back down to sea level to experience Stand Up Paddle Boarding at the resort of Seixal. I had never tried this before and was amazed that I managed to stand, balance and paddle without once toppling into the sea! Dinner at Sao Tiago Fortress, a beautiful and well preserved converted fortress with an amazing atmosphere (a great location for a romantic celebration). This restaurant was in old Funchal with its quaint cobbled streets and authentic old buildings some of which are now bars, restaurants and shops. We transfer to the beautiful 5* Savoy Saccharum – my ocean view room is light, airy and has a large balcony. This restful, away from it all hotel is on the site of an old sugar cane mill and incorporates many pieces from the original mill as pieces of art.
An early start this morning to take in the sunrise at Pico do Arieiro, which is 1800 meters above sea level. Wow, what a blissful silence – just sit, breathe and take in the changing skyline wrapped in blankets until we were warmed by the morning sun. We were ready and prepared for the next exhilarating experience, Canyoning, I hadn’t heard of this – it is a new experience only offered in Madeira and France to date – but it is a ‘must do’. Don’t they say it’s good to be scared? Our guides for the day, however, were calm skilled professionals who knew the canyons well and made it all fun. You travel from the top of the canyon to the bottom in about three hours using rappelling ropes over slippery rocks, by the side of a tumbling waterfall, plunging into great pools of water – swimming and helter skeltering down muddy slides, all arranged by mother nature herself – I can’t wait to do it all again!
Before our flight home a leisurely trek of the Levada Walks. A track of irrigation channels used in the 1600’s to bring water down the mountains now forms up to 250kms of pathways leading through a beautiful woodland landscape, ending quite often at the foot of a dramatic waterfall. It is good to go with a guide for a more informative experience and ours made the morning a most enjoyable one. Lunch at Calheta, Jardim do Mar for a delicious lunch of octopus. A quick last view of the beach and seaside at Canico before our journey back home. Wow, what an unforgettable Madeira Adventure!
Dolphin & Whale Watching – Rota dos Cetaceos Company
Mountain Biking – Freeride Madeira
Paddle Boarding – Clube Naval do Seixal
Canyoning – Lokoloko
Walking Guide – Mountain Expeditions
For more information on this holiday or to make an enquiry for your next adventure holiday call us on 01932 866565 or email