An emerald-green dot in the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira is a nature lovers dream. Mountainous and picturesque, the island offers walks through the levadas, swimming in the ocean, diving, whale and dolphin watching, adventure activities and much more besides. It’s sub tropical climate and mild winters ensure that it’s gardens thrive so a visit to the botanic gardens or one of the various Quinta gardens is a must. There really are some spectacular plants to be seen.
Just three and a half hours from the UK, served by many direct flights from TAP, easyjet, BA and Monarch, it’s possible to have a long weekend in the capital of Funchal, but a week or more will give you a real perspective on the magical moments the island has to offer. Marking it’s territory as a wellness destination, you can opt for an Ayurvedic retreat, yoga break or just indulge in some chill out time at one of the spa. In fact here are so many hotels with spas it’s hard to list them all, but worth checking out are the Spa at Belmond Reid’s Palace, The spa at Casa Velha do Palheiro, Choupana Hills Spa, Hotel The Vine and Estalagem Ponto do Sol.
The people are friendly, the food is great, especially locally grilled fish and for those with a sweet tooth, there are lots of local delicacies including the honey cake which is spicy and moist and very moorish.
I recommend getting out of Funchal and into the mountains, either on a tour, or a guided walk in the levadas (there are over 1800kms of levadas around the island) or do as I did and book a private tour with Sidecar Tours Madeira. You can follow a set trip or specify what you want to do. We took the latter option and personalised a tour to suit taking in the central plateau, old coast roads and lovely forest drives up the mountain. It was the perfect way to see the true magic of the island. The wind in your hair and the open road and very few cars. Fabulous fun.
So after my first trip to madeira the island definitely gets the thumbs up. So much so that I’m already planning to return next year. Yes it was that good.