Madeira is small yet exceptionally attractive Portuguese island, just 13 miles wide and 35 miles long, and has no large beaches to speak of, but it does have an Eden-like beauty with its rich volcanic soil having turned it into a botanical wonderland and agricultural treasure house. Most of the indigenous thick forest was destroyed in a fire created by the first Portuguese colonialists to clear it for farming. Today however the fragrant island blooms with colourful masses of orchids, bougainvillea, frangipani, wisteria and geraniums. Fruit and herbs grow in profusion on the hillsides and in ravines, and the mountain slopes are terraced with orchards and vineyards. The island has been termed a 'floating garden' and the sunny atmosphere makes it a fascinating holiday destination and with its elevated excellence of golf courses that delights its visitors to this magnificent place.
Madeira isn't a holiday haven for families with young children or for those looking for theme parks but it could suit families with older children who are into watersports and walking. Both children and adults can have great fun whizzing down the waterslides at the Aqua Park at Santa Cruz, The park boasts five toboggan rides and four fast slides, two swimming pools, a lazy river running round the pools, a bar and locker rooms. Children and adults alike will surely spend enjoyable moments at Santa Cruz Aqua Park! If you have young children then a day out at the new sandy beach at Calheta will go down well. A boat trip off the island of Madeira can make a whale and dolphin watcher’s dreams come true. With the island sitting in the Atlantic you'll be spoilt for choice and will loose count on how many whales and dolphins you can see.
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Things to do on Maderia.This magnificent island is an ideal place for a wide variety of outdoor activities, from surfing, fishing, skiing, camping, hiking, boating, bike trails, trekking, windsurfing and scuba diving to hill walking, dolphin safaris, fishing, swimming, sea kayaking, canoeing, golf and many more. Adventurous water skiing, kite-surfing and other water sport activities are offered at the main resorts.
Top 3 things to do in Madeira.
Funchal and the Monte cable car: Taking a gentle stroll around the capital Funchal where you will see some amazing architecture, a colourful market in the old town where locals buy fresh fruit and fish and some great restaurants to. If you’re brave enough do take a ride on the cable car for a 15 minute ride up to the Monte. This is an exciting way to see the fantastic views over Funchal. The departure station is at the Parque Almirante Reis, located in the old part of the town. The Monte Station is situated next to the Palace Tropical Garden, and can receive up to 800 passengers per hour. Each cabin can fit up to 8 people and there is 41 of them. The cost for that is €10 one way or €15.00 return. Whilst you are at the top visit the Tropical Palace Gardens, which is situated about 550 meters above Funchal. This will take up 2 to 3 hours of your time, enjoying the great views over Funchal, sculpture and artwork that is found in the museum within the gardens and of course the big variety of tropical plants.
Whale and Dolphin spotting: Watching dolphins swim right up to you while on this boat trip is a real pleasurable experience. The chances of you being able to see dolphins or whales are 95%. The Catamaran itself is quiet big, takes up to 70 people, has a covered area and has refreshments and toilets on board. The cost for this ride is € 30. The trip usually takes around 3 hours.
Madeira Aquarium: The Madeira Aquarium, located in Porto Moniz, next to the harbour, is an asset to the entertainment and cultural programme of Porto Moniz. The Madeira Aquarium is comprised of 12 exhibition tanks where the various habitats of the Madeira marine world are represented. The most impressive tank contains about 500,000 litres of salt water. One of the most impressive experiences is being able to plunge into the salt water, diving with sharks, rays, morays and hundreds of other fish. Prior to diving into the aquarium, you are taken by an experienced instructor into an external, natural seawater pool, where you learn how to handle the equipment and to breathe under water. Friends and family not participating in the dive can watch from the other side of the aquarium glass and take photos.
Madeira Food and drink.
Eating out in Madeira’s restaurants can be a unique experience especially when finding that perfect combination of great food at a great price. For those that love to sample different flavours and textures, dining in Madeira and sampling the traditional delicacies on store is a must. It is safe to say that Madeirans truly have been successful in making a food culture of their own be it by their own experiments or by influences brought over from mainland Portugal.
Funchal, Madeira Island’s capital and most urban city offers an ever-growing selection of restaurants, snack-bars, cafés, bars and pubs. The most popular place to eat in Funchal would be in the colourful and historical ‘Old Town’, Zona Velha, with a galore of long-established restaurants offering traditional Madeiran cuisine of fresh meat and fish at its finest all at relatively similar prices. These restaurants attract returning visitors time and time again, every year. Another well-known place to eat in Funchal is in the Lido area where most 4 & 5 star hotels are located. Here you can find some traditional restaurants but most offer international menus at more varied prices which are particularly ideal for families.
The best beach on Madeira.
The original and most popular sandy beach of Madeira is the double side small bay at Praia da Calheta. The artificial beach has two sea walls at either end of the beach which form a calm lagoon bound by two short but wide beaches.