Need more reasons? Let us know and we'll tell you!

5 reasons to visit Madeira after lockdown

If you’re dreaming about the picturesque island of Madeira, you will be pleased to learn that it will re-open to international visitors from July 1st. Its neighbour in the archipelago, Porto Santo will too. The Portuguese archipelago had closed in March to help control the spread of COVID-19. There are many more reasons, but here are our main 5 reasons to visit Madeira after lockdown.

About Madeira

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, an archipelago of two main islands, off the northwest coast of Africa. Along with the main Madeira island, with a length of 57km and width of 22km wide, its sister island, Porto Santo, measures just 14km by 8km. There are also Desertas and Selvagens islands which are uninhabited. All islands are a true paradise for nature lovers, both sea and mountains.

COVID-19 in Madeira

So far, the region has registered 92 cases of COVID-19 out of which 90 have already recovered. Madeira and Porto Santo will reopen to tourism on the 1st July date when the mandatory quarantine will be eliminated. The reopening will be carried out safely and aiming to recover the confidence both of travellers and locals

You'll be impressed by Madeira's lush landscape
You’ll be impressed by Madeira’s lush landscape

Reasons to visit Madeira after lockdown

1. Madeira has had very few cases of Covid-19

Until the present date, the islands of Madeira have registered ninety-two (90) positive cases of COVID-19. And there was no community contamination and no deaths. The local government acted quickly to control the virus on the archipelago (actually, the whole of Portugal has been widely praised for its rapid response).

Madeira was a pioneer in the whole Portugal, in developing good practices document to deal with Covid-19 – COVID SAFE TOURISM (English version here), resulting from the involvement from the whole tourism sector, along with the launch of a certification process that will reassure consumer confidence and hence promote Madeira as a safe tourism location for all visitors.

2. Free COVID test when visiting Madeira

All travellers are requested to be tested within 72 hours prior to arrival for faster checkout. Passengers who were not tested will do a free test upon arrival at the airport. Children ages 12 and younger do not have to take the test, except for suspected cases.

“The government will pay for all costs of the tests upon arrival to the destination to prevent any extra costs for travellers,” says Eduardo Jesus, regional secretary of tourism and culture. “This measure ensures all visitors that not only the locals are virus-free, but all those who enter will be scanned, thus promoting a highly secure and reassuring environment. The testing process is being prepared by the Regional Health Authority, with the collaboration of ANA – Airports of Portugal, and strives for the highest speed with least inconvenience for travellers.” 

Need more reasons? Let us know and we'll tell you!
Need more reasons? Let us know and we’ll tell you!

3. No mandatory quarantine in Madeira

The Regional Government of Madeira (GRM) will carry out a test for all travellers, upon arrival in Madeira islands. These tests can be avoided if passengers present a PCR test with a negative result, carried out in the last 72 hours before landing time. 

However, while confinement is not mandatory for those who took the test upon arrival, it is recommended for travellers to go to their accommodation while they wait for the results. Results should be presented within 12 hours.

This measure ensures all visitors that not only the locals are virus free, but all those who enter will be scanned, thus promoting a highly secure and reassuring environment.

4. Monitoring of travelers in Madeira

As part of the pre-travel requirements, all passengers should be monitored through an APP (mobile application). The app is called “Madeira Safe to Discover” of the Regional Health Authority, of voluntary, but recommended use, or by telephone contact. 

5. Madeira will always be Madeira

Luckily, COVID-19 did not change the natural and cultural blessings of Madeira. Warmed year-round by the Atlantic sun, Madeira is known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’. The archipelago is worldwide known for its lush botanical gardens, wine tasting and, of course, the crazy toboggan rides in a wicker basket from Monte to Funchal. 

It is also an outdoor paradise that attracts hikers and sea lovers. The main reason to make the journey to Porto Santo is that it boasts one of Europe’s finest golden-sand beaches. Travellers between Madeira and Porto Santo are currently free from any control by Health authorities.

Madeira has already opened most of tourist products and services such as bars, restaurants, spas, and tourist spots implementing health and safety protocols like social distancing, proper hygiene, and the wearing of mask. Boat tours and other sea experiences like SUP and surf will resume July 1st (some have already restarted in June).

SUP tour in Madeira
A SUP tour in Madeira can be done all year round

The Regional Government of Madeira, through the Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, and Madeira Promotion Bureau are working side by side with all stakeholders to relaunch the Destination. Our teams are always available to share information.

What are you waiting for? Madeira is ready for you, vamos! And if you need more reasons to visit Madeira after lockdown, let us know, we’ll convince you!

Visit Portugal this summer COVID-19 measures for the beaches in Portugal

7 reasons to visit Portugal this summer

After several months at home and possibly some cancelled trips, you must be as eager as us to travel again! The majority of the team of SeaBookings lives in Portugal and this is also where the company was founded. There are many reasons to visit Portugal bus now, given the current circumstances, we’d like to share some special reasons to visit Portugal this summer.

In fact, Portugal is ready and prepared to receive you for summer holidays. Check out our 7 reasons to visit Portugal this summer:

Surfers have been enjoying the sea again since May 4th

1. Beaches in Portugal are already open for the practice of sports

Since May 4th, we can enjoy the beaches again, not to sunbathe yet, laying on a towel, but to walk, run or practice any other watersports like surfing. We can already enjoy the beach! Let’s cross our fingers that very soon, we can freely enjoy the beach again.

According to the Algarve Travel Board, beaches will open in June, with health regulations and procedures in place. A maximum number of people per beach is one of the possible measures. Let’s see.

And if you like waterparks, the Algarve Travel Board points to June and July to reopen these, again with special health measures. The park’s capacity will, therefore, be reduced and have compulsory use of masks in closed areas like restaurants and stores.

Marina de Lagos by Mario Majer

2. Golf courses, marinas and some hotels are already open in Portugal

Portugal was rather quick to adopt preventive measures at an early stage of the pandemic. As such, Portugal has fewer cases than other European countries; with only 11 reported deaths per 100 000 population (May 14th, according to the ECDC). And looking within Portugal, the Algarve, our favorite destination, is one of the least affected regions in Portugal.

Some golf courses, marinas and car hire businesses are already open with strict health protocols in place, of course. Regarding hotels, over a third of hotels in the Algarve are open and the local tourism board expects this to rise to 75% in June and most to be open in July.

Portugal is a seafood paradise!

3. Delicious Portuguese Restaurants

During these times, you might want to book a hotel or apartment with a kitchen so you can cook some meals at home and use your time outdoors to enjoy nature. Take-away and delivery services have been open during the whole period of lockdown in Portugal and work very well.

The good news is also that as of May 18th, restaurants can reopen with 50 per cent capacity restrictions. 

We can’t wait to meet some wild dolphins in the middle of the sea…

4. Sea experiences will resume very soon in Portugal

Thanks to the large effort by the national authorities and also local agents, Portugal defined a set of best practices in terms of safety and security, to restart its tourism sector. The “Clean & Safe” seal is one of these measures. 

Turismo de Portugal, the Portuguese Tourism Board, recognizes companies in the Tourism sector that comply with the recommendations of the local health authority to avoid the contamination of COVID-19.

All tourism companies that wish to obtain the “Clean & Safe” seal must comply with a set of provisions. Of course, most of our local tour providers in Portugal have already obtained this seal and are ready to have you once the local authorities give us the “OK” to resume our sea experiences (it should be in the coming days). In fact, in Madeira, nautical experiences will restart already on May 20th! So if you visit Portugal this summer, you’ll be able to experience the sea to its fullest!

In addition to local tour providers, other sector agents are also strongly committed to reopening in a gradual, responsible and safe manner and commit to the seal. According to João Fernandes, President of Algarve Tourism, the Algarve already has 271 hotels, 176 tourist entertainment companies and 177 travel agencies, duly certified by this initiative of Turismo de Portugal, that pioneered this worldwide.

The airport of Lisbon is still scarily empty at the moment

5. Safety measures upon arrival in Portugal

The reopening of borders and air traffic is the main factor that still remains undefined, preventing the return of tourism in full. For now, travel from and to outside the EU will at least be banned until June 15th in Portugal

Portugal seems to be the right bet as several international airlines and tour operators are showing great interest in resuming their flights to Portugal. Some airlines already even taking reservations.

Regarding the local airports, some measures are being implemented upon arrival to ensure the protection of passengers and staff. The possible measures at airports in Portugal include:

  • Temperature measurement at arrivals;
  • Hand sanitizers at all points of the terminals;
  • Mandatory use of a mask at the terminal;
  • Warnings for the need for extra hygiene care and the need for physical distance;
  • Installation of personal protections in service counters (acrylic and glass);
  • Reinforcement of cleaning of spaces and equipment with hospital-level disinfectants and use of UV equipment, among other measures.
The Torre de Belém in Lisbon can be seen from a boat tour but also be visited from land

6. Local culture in Museums, Monuments and Cinema in Portugal

According to the Portuguese reopening plan (Plano de Desconfinamento), as from May 18th, museums, monuments and palaces, art galleries and the like will reopen with reduced capacity and physical distance. The use of masks might also be mandatory in some places.

And from June 1st, cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and concert halls should be open again. Be aware that these will have marked seats, reduced capacity and physical distance.

The sad news is that summer festivals have been banned until September 30th.

Face masks and hand sanitizer are widely available in Portugal

7. Face masks and hand sanitizer are widely available in Portugal

A few days after the use of masks in schools, public transport, shops and other closed spaces with a lot of people became mandatory in Portugal, the VAT rate was reduced from 23% to 6% on this kind of protective equipment, as well as disinfectant gel. Masks and hand sanitizer are available at pharmacies but also at big supermarkets like Continente, Pingo Doce, El Corte Inglés and Mercadona. The supermarkets Intermarché and Bricomarché stand out as they sell disposable masks and other personal protective equipment at cost prices “without any profit”.

According to ECO newspaper, the disposable masks are available for 0.40 cents a unit and a pack of 50 masks costs 20.15 euros. A 50 ml bottle of hand sanitizer is 4.90 euros and prices are monitored weekly in order to have the best price on the market.

Another reason to visit Portugal this summer are it’s spacious beaches

We know that traveling in these “new normal” times can be a bit scary, but we truly believe Portugal is a good bet. If you’ve got any doubts or tips about traveling to Portugal this summer, feel free to contact us at any time. 

Madeira whale watching

A must on Madeira: whale watching boat trips

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon: 

As you may have already read on this blog, we’ve been on a short 3-day trip to Madeira island Portugal. Our goal was to check out some of the coolest things to do on Madeira and share them with you. One thing is a true must on Madeira: whale watching

To see such a huge animal as a whale in the wild is a unique experience

To see such a huge animal as a whale in the wild is a unique experience

We went on a dolphin and whale watching tour on Madeira with departure from the Marina of Funchal. After a very complete briefing about what we species we could expect to find, about the tour itself and about respect for nature (which is very important for this tour operator), we headed down to the boat. 

The boat used for this whale watching tour is a rigid inflatable boat (RIB). These boats are known for their speed and safety, ideal for a dolphin watching trip! And another good thing is that, opposed to other boats, on RIBs, it’s very rare to get seasick. Francisco, who usually gets seasick when sailing is the proof! On the RIB, a super fast boat, he did not feel sick 😉

We had quite a laugh when boarding because some of the other passengers would put their life-jackets the other way around and one lady even decided to sit backwards on the seats! It was hard to keep our laughs! Be careful not to do this! :p

Whales are usually a bit shyer than dolphins but some come really close by

Whales are usually a bit shyer than dolphins but some come really close by

As soon as we left the marina we immediately went full gas towards the deep blue of the Atlantic. On this 2,5 hour dolphin and whale watching trip in Madeira, we were lucky enough to spot three species. Did you know that around the year, 28 different species of cetaceans (dolphins and whales) can be spotted around the island of Madeira? Some of the most commonly spotted species are common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, sperm whales and pilot whales. And sometimes even other sea life like turtles are spotted from the speed boats.

As the Atlantic is rather big and as we deal with wild animals and they are not fed, this tour operator counts with observers on land. It may sound strange, but these observers help a lot! From the mountains, they give directions to the skippers to easily find the animals. Once the skippers track the animals on their GPS,  it’s time to speed up and head to the whales and dolphins to watch them closely. Chances of finding some species of cetaceans are, like this, very high on Madeira. However, it’s a true adventure and on some tours, it can happen that no dolphins or whales are sighted.

Common dolphins

Common dolphins

We saw common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales very closely. Actually, we even found two pods of common dolphins and with the first spot, some of the passengers had the opportunity to get into the water to swim with dolphins. I was one of them and trust me, this was one of the experiences in my life I’m most grateful for. You can read my full experience here.

While near to the mammals, this tour operator respects a certain distance to not disturb the animals and give you some time to observe them. But not too long, also to respect the animals. The marine biologist onboard will keep you updated about what’s going on. As we found the species, we were informed about them and their behavior. Feel free to ask any questions. The guides love to tell about our favorite animals!

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

We had a great time onboard. The boat ride itself is really worth it. The sights over the coastline of the island, like Cabo Girão and Ribeira Brava, are stunning. And the speed is a lot of fun!

Swimming with wild dolphins is a very special experience that we recommend to all you sea-lovers!

Swimming with wild dolphins is a very special experience that we recommend to all you sea-lovers!

To watch whales and dolphins (and maybe even other marine life) in their natural habitat is a truly unique experience for the whole family in the middle of the Ocean. This experience is more than just watching these magical creatures. You’ll get to know a lot about cetaceans and particularly about the ones around Madeira Island. Feel free to book your dolphins and whale watching trip on Madeira online and feel free to contact us about any questions you may have.

swim with dolphins in Madeira

To swim with dolphins in Madeira – a dream come true

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon: 

From all sea experiences that we provide on SeaBookings, swimming with dolphins has always been the one that fascinated me most. In Portugal, you can only swim with wild dolphins on the islands of the Azores and Madeira. The first time I was on Madeira, I did not have the chance to make this dream come true. Fortunately, the second time, I made my dream to swim with dolphins in Madeira come true. And it totally exceeded my expectations.

This is what you'll see. Yes, they come that close!

This is what you’ll see. Yes, they come that close!

For me, regarding all tours involving cetaceans, like the whale and dolphin watching and swimming with dolphins tours, it’s very important to be sure that they’re done with respect for nature. At SeaBookings, we try to select the tour operators that are truly involved with the species’ welfare. In Madeira, we have a great partner regarding this aspect. 

During the briefing before the tour, we were informed about what the tour would be like and what we could expect. We also learned about the different species of dolphins and whales that can be found around Madeira, some resident and some migratory. And we also learned that to respect the animals, we can only spend limited time next to each pod, to not bother them too much. Besides, they are not fed, so they are truly wild! Being truly wild animals means that these tours are always a real adventure. You never know what species of dolphins and/or whales you’ll find in the open water of the middle of the Atlantic, if any! 

The experience to swim with dolphins in Madeira takes place on the same speed boats and schedules as the dolphin and whale watching tours. This is great because if you go with a group and not everybody wants to swim, you can still go on the same tour. To swim with the dolphins, a few conditions are a must: the dolphins should be of the species Common Dolphins (Delphinus), they should not be feeding, not have calves and be calm. Only then, you can calmly get into the water and swim with dolphins in Madeira.

You'll be holding on to the boat with a rope

You’ll be holding on to the boat with a rope

It was with the second pod of dolphins we found that all criteria to be able to swim were satisfied. Oh damn, I was so excited. Was I really going to make the dream to swim with wild dolphins come true? Yes, the skipper and the marine biologist onboard, gave me and two other “swimmers” (on a boat with 12 guests) an “OK” to calmly get into the water. 

1, 2, 3, here I come, dolphins! The water was warm, 22ºC and I was wearing a bikini and lycra and a snorkel mask. With one hand, I was holding a rope that was tight to the boat. The boat was moving, but very very slowly. The dolphins were all around me. All around. They’d look at me, come closer, and swim away. They were super curious. I could hear them talk, their noises are so cute! And loud! They are big! Common Dolphins can reach up to 2,5m and that’s very big if you’re swimming next to them!

Wow, here I was in the middle of the Atlantic, at a depth of more than 2000 m, surrounded by 15-20 friendly and curious dolphins. What an amazing feeling. While writing this, I can still feel the excitement!

While holding on tight to the boat, I was going above and under the surface of the sea. And when above, I was telling the people on the boat how amazing this was! I needed to share my excitement! I’m not sure for how long I was in the water, probably only for 5 minutes, but this was more than enough. I will never ever forget these unique moments underwater, these indescribable encounters with such a magical species!

We were lucky enough to spot several species

We were lucky enough to spot several species

I feel extremely grateful for this experience swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat and I strongly recommend it to all nature lovers out there. To swim with dolphins in Madeira was with no doubt one of the most remarkable experiences of my life!  Feel free to contact me per email if you’ve got any questions about this experience 🙂

Canyoning in Madeira

Coasteering and Canyoning in Madeira – the full island experience

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon:

We had such a great time on our 3-day trip to Madeira Island this Spring! We did the trip to explore some of the best things to do on Madeira and then to share our experience with you. Well, if you love nature and some adventure, this pack that combines coasteering and canyoning in Madeira is a must. If you relate to the following, please read further! Adrenaline, nature, sea, mountains, cliff jumping, climbing, challenge, fun… 

Imagine doing rappel on this 28m waterfall!

Imagine doing rappel on this 28m waterfall!

Both experiences should be done in separate days, first because you’ll be tired after each of them and second because the canyoning can take quite some hours, depending on the level you choose. Our coasteering experience took about 2 hours while the canyoning in Madeira took almost 5 hours, excluding transport to and from the meeting points. 

The coasteering in Madeira usually takes place on the road to the famous Ponta de São Lourenço. The canyoning tour we did started and ended near Pico da Urze, where the Levada do Alecrim starts. You can meet the guides at the starting point of each experience or they’ll pick you up and drop you off after the experience. Let me tell you how our experience was:

Coasteering in Madeira

As soon as we landed on Madeira Island, the guides, Fabrício, André and Francisco, came to pick us up at the airport to head to the best spot for coasteering in Madeira. With only 3 days on the island, we had no time to lose!

Coasteering Madeira

The gear is rather hot, but after your 1st jump, you won’t feel it anymore 😉

The gear you use for coasteering is very similar to that for canyoning, except that for canyoning you’ll also use a harness. Besides, you’ll wear a special wetsuit, shoes (I recommend to request one size above your usual size), life vest and a helmet. All the gear is provided, so you only need to bring sunscreen, swimsuit and a towel.

Once we were fully equipped, we walked for a few minutes to reach the shore. These few minutes were enough to feel the heat in our wetsuits. The first cliff jump into the Atlantic felt amazing! You immediately forget about the uncomfortable hot gear (the same applies for the first jump with the canyoning). 

We spent about 90min having fun while climbing, swimming, cliff jumping and exploring dark caves. Time flew by. Coasteering is a truly amazing experience as you feel a very strong connection to nature, to the sea.

Just don't think to much! And JUMP!

Just don’t think too much! And JUMP!

After a small hike up the cliffs, the van was there with Francisco, waiting for us. Damn, that was a great welcome to the island! We had a blast, we even commented that only for this coasteering experience in Madeira, it was worth it to fly from Lisbon for just one day! We were lucky enough to have two more days and the next one would be for canyoning!

The canyoning adventure started with a nice hike in the mountains

The canyoning adventure started with a nice hike in the mountains

Canyoning in Madeira

Canyoning in Madeira is what coasteering is to the sea, but for the mountain: a very strong connection. So, the combination of these two experiences, sea and mountain gives you a full immersion into Madeira’s stunning and pure nature!

For the canyoning, we drove to the meeting point with our own rental car. From there, we met the canyoning guides, Peter and André, and got geared up with the same gear as the day before plus the harness. This experience was done in a group, with a few more adventurous travelers. 

The hike on Levada do Alecrim was very pretty!

The hike on Levada do Alecrim was very pretty but tough, especially the way back!

For canyoning in Madeira, there are several levels. The levels are based on your level of experience, fitness and love for adrenaline. As we already had some coasteering experience, we joined a level 2 canyoning experience. It was rather tough and I’d say we’re above the general level of fitness. So, if you’ve got no experience and are not very active in your day to day life, you want to start with a level 1.

You'll be impressesed by such a pure nature

You’ll be impressed by such a pure nature

The main difference between our coasteering and canyoning experiences? The water in the mountain is waaaay colder! It was about 10-12ºC! Fortunately, the suits keep you warm but your hands will feel it! Another big difference was the jumping technique that is more “bomb-like” as the water is more shallow. Ah, and the highlight of the canyoning was definitely the rappel we did for about 28m along an impressive waterfall! And the highest jump we did was about 14 m high!

It's hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

The guides will take some epic pictures!

On both experiences, we had a great time! We live in Portugal and had no idea that Madeira had these amazing experiences to offer. We feel like we lived the island, both the mountains AND the sea to the fullest. The next time we visit Madeira, we’ll surely do both experiences again, maybe at another location. So, if you’re an active-nature-loving person looking for the best things to do on Madeira, trust us: try coasteering and canyoning in Madeira!

It's hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

It’s hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

If you accept our suggestion, and you’re booking coasteering and canyoning in Madeira, don’t forget: request one shoe size above the usual and, even though a cereal bar is included, you might want to bring another one to keep your energy levels up (for the canyoning). Enjoy!

SUP tour in Madeira

We went on a SUP tour in Madeira

To-do on Madeira: SUP tour

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon:

We had the chance to visit the beautiful island of Madeira for 3 days this Spring. We went on a SeaBookings trip to discover the best things to do on Madeira and then to share them with you, of course! This SUP tour in Madeira is one of them.

One of the best things to do on Madeira island is of course watersports. Being surrounded by the Atlantic and with its water temperatures around 20ºC all year round, doing some watersports in Madeira is a must. We wanted to go surfing in Madeira or to do a SUP tour, depending on the conditions. As the sea was very calm, we choose for the SUP tour in Madeira.

This SUP tour in Madeira started from the stunning Nature Park of Garajau. We parked our rental car next to the “Cristo Rei” cable car and then took the cable car down. This was a great suggestion by our tour guide, Roberto, as the parking lot down at the beach was a bit chaotic. Before heading down, we walked down to trail from the car park to Cristo Rei to check out the amazing view over the Atlantic you have from here. It’s really worth it!

A big plus about paddle boarding? It's easy to learn!

A big plus about paddle boarding? It’s easy to learn!

The cable car from the parking lot to the beach of Garajau costs about 2€ per person and takes around 3min, I think. It’s really worth it as the views during the ride are simply incredible! Once we got off the cable car, it felt like we landed in paradise. Praia do Garajau is a very cosy beach with a cute beach bar.

We immediately encountered Roberto, whose surf and SUP school is located on top of the beach bar. Our board were already waiting for us and after a brief technical introduction about how to SUP, we were ready to get into the sea with stand up paddle boards. Actually, Roberto is a very good SUPper himself and managed to really help me improve my paddle technique. I had done stand-up paddle a few times before but never really worried about my technique. Well, now I know how to paddle properly! 

SUP is a very peaceful way to explore the coast of Madeira

SUP is a very peaceful way to explore the coast of Madeira

To get to the water it’s a bit tricky as there are some loose round stones on the beach, but it’s only a very short distance. And yes, the water was warm! Gotta love Madeira island! Once we were all comfortably standing on our boards, we paddled in Eastern direction. These cliffs of the Garajau Natural Park are impressive and the different shades of blue of the sea were beautiful! 

While paddling close to shore, Roberto was explaining some of the local flora and fauna to us. Doing a SUP tour in Madeira is super relaxing. For us, it was the perfect experience to do before catching our flight back to Lisbon. But hey, when we turned around to paddle back in the direction of the beach, we had the wind, that suddenly picked up, against us. To cross the “Ponta do Garajau”, some real strength was needed. So, tighten your core, bend your knees a bit and row 1, row 2, row 3! Yes, we all made it to the less windy side, near the beach and still felt like paddling a bit further.

For Francisco and Fábio it was only the 2nd time SUPping

For Francisco and Fábio it was only the 2nd time SUPping

After the SUP tour in Garajau, we still grabbed a refreshing drink at the beach bar before driving to the airport (after a quick sweet water shower on the beach). SUP is a great way to access the local beauty and lush landscape of the coastline, it’s environmentally friendly and a full-body workout. All you need to bring is a swimming suit, a cap and sunscreen. Roberto will take care of the rest! We really recommend this SUP tour to experience Madeira from a sea view perspective. We’ll be back soon!

Coasteering Madeira

A coasteering adventure in Madeira

By Fábio, CTO at SeaBookings, who fell in love with coasteering in the Algarve, and repeated the coasteering adventure in Madeira.

At SeaBookings, we like to visit the places where we operate so we can better understand what are the best things we can offer to our sea lovers. This adventure was in Madeira, a Portuguese gem in the Atlantic coast north of Africa.

Untouched Nature in Madeira

From the sky, right before landing, we could see that Madeira landscapes live to their fame. You have the feeling that everything is still very raw, very natural. The vegetation and vertiginous cliffs are spectacular, and one of the reasons almost all of its territory was considered a total preservation area and by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage. We could start to feel the excitement.

Even from the sky, you can already sense Madeira's wilderness

Even from the sky, you can already sense Madeira’s wilderness

From the Airport to the coasteering adventure

From the airport, you have multiple options to get to Funchal, the capital city of the island. By shuttle, by bus, by taxi or by car rental. If you truly want to discover Madeira and its nature, you will have to move around so we recommend you to rent a car, since you will be driving a little bit.

Having landed in Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo, we immediately started our adventure. We already had scheduled coasteering online so we had to get going. Luckily, the guides just picked us up at the Airport to help us make it on time.

All you need to bring is your sun screen, swimsuit and a towel, the rest is all sorted!

All you need to bring is your sunscreen, swimsuit and a towel, the rest is all sorted!

The preparation for the experience

After 20 minutes, we arrived at the eastern part of the island, close to Ponta de S. Lourenço. This trip was a pleasant collection of stunning landscapes and vivid colours. And it gave us time to get to know a bit about this tour operator and the guides who were going to take us coasteering. Once we arrived at the spot, we were provided with the proper equipment for coasteering: wetsuit, boots and a helmet. After a clear safety briefing by our guide Fabrício, we were ready for some epic coasteering in Madeira!

It's great to feel so close to nature!

It’s great to feel so close to nature!

The coasteering adventure

Moving down the path of a trail, we were approaching the sea and its blue turquoise colors. It’s hard to describe the sights with words. The panoramic wild environment is breathtaking. As soon as you get to the edge of the cliff adrenaline starts pumping and you feel it’s about to start!

You are in a natural reserve and everything around you so beautiful, natural and untouched. You can finally feel in complete symbiosis with mother nature.

And then…. You jump!

Just don't think to much!

Just don’t think too much!

You feel the mild water and you feel in total connection with the stunning surroundings of wild Madeira. Madeira is a volcanic Island and you will be able to see that on the cliff’s walls and in the several caves you will visit in this tour.

For the next 2 hours, you will swim, you will jump, you will climb and you will hit the repeat button many times. You simply can’t get tired of this. It’s you, your mates and the wild nature. You’ll have the chance to visit hidden beaches and caves that are only accessible via the sea. And since this is a natural reserve, you won’t find any motor boats.

There are jumps of many different heights and you can pick the ones that you can feel comfortable with. Everything jump is optional, so if you don’t think you can make it, you can skip it. The grand finale is a 15m high jump… if you have the courage!

For the photo addicts, the guides will have a camera and take pictures so that you don’t have to worry about carrying extra stuff and can fully enjoy this experience. If you really want a take a personal view of the adventure, we recommend you to take a GoPro or equivalent with you.

The colors are just incredible!

The colors are just incredible!

The last surprise

There is a surprise lurking for you at the end. When walking the last hill back to the carpark, please look around for a few minutes. There is a landscape with magical colours you won’t forget.

This is the time to breathe in and think about everything you have just experienced. You will feel fulfilled, wanting to come back. This was the beginning of our adventure in Madeira, and just by experiencing this, it was already worth it!

A GoPro is a fun idea for some unique sea-selfies!

A GoPro is a fun idea for some unique sea-selfies!

We’re sure that coasteering in Madeira is one of the best outdoor activities in Madeira Island. It’s the best way to explore the untouched uncrowded side of the famous Ponta de São Lourenço. If you want to know more about this experience or about the best things to do on Madeira, feel free to contact us any time!

Tipps für Euren Urlaub auf Madeira

Things to do on Madeira

Things to do on Madeira

Poncha Madeira

Madeira is a perfect holiday destination the whole year round. We’ll share the some tips to take the most out of your holidays on the island and enjoy the best things to do on Madeira.

Madeira is one of the archipelagos of Portugal. The archipelago is composed by two inhabited islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and a few islands where no people live on. The capital of this autonomous region is Funchal.

The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo are characterized by a warm subtropical climate all year round. Madeira is very popular for active travellers who like outdoor experiences like hiking or running in the mountains, playing golf or water activities like surf, SUP, kayak and boat tours.

Boat tours Madeira

We went to visit the Portuguese island to check out the best things to do on Madeira and share them with you.

Flights

Things to do on MadeiraReaching Madeira is very easy and affordable. The airport has only one terminal and you can easily find your way to the public transport or rent-a-cars.

Flights are very affordable. From Portugal, TAP has been doing some great discounts. Flights by TAP from Lisbon or Porto to Funchal start at €47.  If you’re flying from the UK, for example, there are several airlines that operate to Madeira: easyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Return flights from the UK from December to March will only cost you 65£ to 74£, while from June to September these fares can double.

Getting around

Seabookings in Madeira

At your arrival you can either chose to use public transport or rent a car. We decided to rent a car. We believe this is in fact the best way to explore the island. It allows you to be more flexible and to enjoy the best things to do on Madeira.

There are several rent-a-cars and prices start at about €15 per day. We used rentalcars.com and paid €76 for five days. It’s definitely worth it to hire a car.

We do recommend you to hire a car with some power. Madeira is very hilly and the least powerful cars may not be able to climb up the highest peak of the island when they are full. Be careful when signing the rental contract and make sure you’ve got the right insurance for your needs. Our contract was to give in the car with an empty deposit.  During the five days, where we used the car a lot, we used a full deposit.

Hilly Madeira Things to do

Using the bike to get around the island is not recommendable as there are no paths for bikes and Madeira is super hilly. Biking is one of the best things to do on Madeira if you like sports, so you can go on a biking tour if you wish. But as means of transportation, we truly recommend the car.

Stay

The best things to do on Madeira are a bit all over the island. Staying in the capital, Funchal, is nice if you wish to enjoy some more culture or nightlife. If you’re fonder of nature and want to avoid the most touristic places you can also stay at other towns. In the end, everything is nearby by car.

Prices per night at local “hospedarias” in Funchal start at €20 for a twin room. For the luxury lovers, you can stay at a “Quinta” of more than €150 per night. There are places to stay for all budgets.

Things to do Madeira

We stayed at an apartment via AirBnB. It was located at Ribeira Brava. Ribeira Brava is a small coastal town about 20km west from Funchal. From the airport, Ribeira Brava is about 36km. It’s a nice place to stay. Ribeira Brava has got some good restaurants, a beach and supermarket.

Given the size of the island, the best thing to choose the location of your stay is by taking into consideration the things you want to do on Madeira. Another factor is your budget. In fact, you can stay anywhere as the island is not that big and if you’ve got a car you can go from one side of the island to the other within one hour.

Things to do in Madeira

There are many things to do on Madeira Island. There are activities for all tastes and ages. Of course, we are more into water activities like dolphin and whale watching on Madeira. Other people may be more into playing gold or tasting the local culture and wild nature.

boat trips Madeira

For the ocean-lovers, Madeira is a true paradise in terms of activities. Our four favorite things to do on Madeira Island are:

Boat tours in Madeira

Madeira is home to many species of cetacean (dolphins and whale species) and there are several boat tours to observe them. This is one of the most popular things to do on Madeira as it’s suitable for all ages and can be done all year round.

These trips may take between two and three hours. There are different options regarding the vessel. You can go for a big stable catamaran, a typical Portuguese sailing ship or a fast rigid inflatable boat.

whale watching madeira

The whale and dolphin watching trips on Madeira are more than just watching. With marina biologists and local skippers on board, you’ll get to know a lot about the wild life and about the Island itself.

SUP tours:

SUP in Madeira - Around Freedom

Join a small group of watersport lovers or bring your friends and family and learn how to Stand-up Paddle on Madeira! SUP is the new worldwide booming sport. This experience will give you and your friends or family a different perspective of the Madeira Island.

SUP allows you to access the local nature and lush landscape where other vessel types cannot reach. You can enjoy marine reserves where abundant marine life can be appreciated to the fullest. SUP is very dependent on weather conditions. As on the Island of Madeira the weather and ocean conditions vary a lot, there is almost always a good spot to SUP.

Surf in Madeira

Surfing is a very popular activity on Madeira. The lessons are given on the beaches of volcanic sand, usually in the north-eastern part of Madeira. Surf classes are suitable for all levels of experience. Just like SUP, surfing is rather dependent on weather and ocean conditions. The instructor will always search for the best alternative to guarantee the complete enjoyment of the surf activity. On Madeira, the villages of Paul do Mar, Jardim do Mar and Ponta Pequena are the most popular surf spots. Lugar de Baixo and São Vicente are also becoming popular surf spots.

  • Scuba diving:

Also for scuba divers Madeira is a paradise. The all year round mild climate and water temperatures of 18 to 23°C make Madeira one of the warmest scuba diving spots of Europe. Scuba divers chose Madeira as a holiday destination because of the crystal clear waters and the chance of encountering species like barracudas, monkfish, dolphins, rays and even mantras. Madeira hosts several diving schools, mainly in Funchal and Caniço de Baixo. Diving on Madeira is suitable for all levels of experience.

hiking madeira

In addition to these water-related activities on Madeira, the island is also very popular for walking, hiking and trail running. Madeira is very rich in walking routes. The routes are all very well signaled by the local government. The routes vary from 2 to 12km and the levels of difficulty also very a lot. All the information is explained on the Visit Madeira website.

We highly recommend you to bring good walking or running shoes and to bring some water and food supplies along your walking adventure. We also suggest you to check out the weather forecast to not be surprised by the variable island climate and avoid dangerous situations. If you prefer, you can also join a walking tour.

Running in Madeira

Things to eat in Madeira

For the food-lovers, there are several things you must do while on Madeira Island. Madeira, as well as the Azores, is very well known for its meat.

IMG_20150305_155729

We recommend you to enjoy a delicious “Prego em bola do caco”. Prego is veil meat and it’s served on a typical local type of bread. The bread is kind of sweetish and very soft. It makes a delicious combination with the meat. Also, having this “bola do caco” bread as a starter with garlic butter is too delicious to be true.

Milho frito Madeira

Another must-eat on Madeira is the “espetada”, a meat skewered. Typically this skewered is served on the stick of bay. The meat is extremely juicy and served with fried corn cubes and salad. We recommend you to ask how big the portions are because sometimes they’re big enough to serve too.

These dishes may very well be accompanied with a local Madeira wine. Be aware that Madeira wine is very different to normal wine. As a desert, order a passion fruit mousse or any local fruit like the bananas and other tropical fruit.

madeira

We’re Madeira fans and would be happy to help you to plan your holidays on this beautiful island. Feel free to contact us for other tips, questions or request booking information.

Enjoy Madeira!

Madeira

9 reasons to visit Madeira during the Fall / Winter

We went to visit Madeira in low season and had a great time. That’s why we’d like to share this 9 reasons to visit Madeira during the Fall/Winter.

Boat tours Madeira Portugal
Boat tours in Madeira are a must!

Madeira, along with the Azores, are truly unknown natural gems of Europe. Madeira during the Fall / Winter is the perfect holiday destination.

The Portuguese islands of the Madeira archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal, comprise 2 habited islands off the northwest coast of Africa that were settled in the 1400s.

Madeira and Porto Santo are known for a warm, subtropical climate. The islands are mostly visited by active travelers who seek for outdoor adventures like hiking along old “levadas” (aqueducts) in the mountains or even trail running, playing golf.

dolphin watching in madeira
Dolphin watching in Madeira

It’s also very popular for other ocean activities like sailing, dolphin watching, surfing some waves and even SUP at the Garajau Marine Nature Reserve for example.

Now that we’re enjoying a lovely autumn season, you’ve most likely already enjoyed holidays this year, but why not go again?

swimming with dolphins madeira
Swimming with dolphins in Madeira

The Fall and Winter are great seasons to go on holidays to Madeira, even if it is only for a few days. In this post, we will tell you why we think Madeira is a great holiday destination during this time of the year, based on our own experience.

There are several advantages to travelling to Madeira Fall/Winter:

Less crowd to touristic attractions

Be impressed by Madeira’s green mountains

During the Fall/Winter there are not many tourists anymore, which is great for travelers who do not like to be among hundreds or thousands of tourists and spend a lot of time in queues for main attractions. If you travel to Madeira during this time of the year, you can expect no queues for touristic attractions and no overbooked tours.

Please bear in mind that regarding tours and activities, we recommend you to book in advance. Booking in advance is important to make sure the tour or activity you selected will actually take place as some tours may be less frequent or even closed.

A canyoning adventure can be done all year round

Affordable flights

Landing on Madeira Airport (FNC) is an adventure itself, as the short runway has mountains on one side and ocean on the other. The airport has just one terminal, making it very easy to find your next mean of transportation.

From the UK, there are several airlines that fly to Madeira: British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. A return flight from the UK from December to March will only cost you 65£ to 74£, while from June to September these fares can double.

From Portugal, flights are a little more expensive in December due to the holidays (about 130€ for a return flight) but drop to less than 50€ from January to March.

New Year’s Eve in Madeira
New Year’s Eve in Madeira

New Year!

Madeira is a very popular destination for New Year’s Eve. The award-winning fireworks of Funchal are worldwide known and became a Guinness World Record in 2007.

Beaches in Madeira
Beaches in Madeira

Less crowded beaches

For nature lovers, this time of the year is the best. The beaches of Madeira and Porto Santo will become even more breathtaking when they’re not full of tourists.

Run in Portugal Madeira
Hiking is a must on Madeira

Green Nature

For the ones who like trekking, hiking or trail running, the fall is great as the trails and sights are more beautiful thanks to the rain which makes nature even greener.

Madeira is known as the island of flowers, so also during Spring it’s highly recommendable to visit the island as most plants will then flower.

Tropical fruit in madeira
Tropical fruit all year round!

The weather

Except for those looking for a beach holiday, autumn and winter in Madeira give the right temperature to wander around Funchal or to discover new places.

Summer can be quite hot, sometimes too hot for certain activities. The only risk is the rain. Especially in January, it can become very rainy.

Surf in Madeira - around freedom - things to do in Madeira
Surf is best off-season!

Great Waves

For surfers, this is the best time to enjoy Portuguese waves. Waves usually are better during this time of the year, all around the island. Another reason why surfing in Madeira is better during these seasons is the crowd.

In summer, in Madeira, you may encounter many tourists who try surfing for the first time and the waves of Madeira will become rather crowded. So, during the fall and winter, enjoy Madeira’s surf with better waves and less crowd!

Whales are usually a bit shyer than dolphins but some come really close by

Outdoor activities

Most of the activities that people seek for at Madeira, like the previously mentioned trekking or surfing, are done outside and these seasons are ideal to practice them. Other popular things to do on Madeira include whale and dolphin watching.

In Madeira, we observe whales and dolphins all year around. May to October is the best season for the observation of these animals, the winter can be more special. In fact, between November and February, the number of cetacean species around the Madeira Archipelago is smaller, but we can find some very special species.

The Short-finned Pilot Whale, Common Bottlenose Dolphin and Short-beaked Common Dolphins are the most sighted species during the winter.

Madeira
Just don’t think too much! And JUMP!

Coasteering is also very popular in Madeira and can be done all year round. Coasteering in Madeira is a unique way to explore the coastline, by hiking, jumping, climbing and swimming.

The water temperature is very pleasant all year round, ranging between 19°C/66°F during the winter and reaching 24°C/75°F in summer.

Traditional shops in Madeira
Traditional shops in Madeira

Local people tend to be nicer

We noticed this quite clearly. For local people, like waiters, taxi drivers or tour guides low season is less stressful and so they have more time to dedicate to tourist, being friendlier during low season.

The food in Madeira is incredible

There are many more reasons to visit Madeira. We’re sure you won’t regret it!

In fact, we’re not the only ones who love Madeira. The archipelago has Madeira has won the ‘Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2019‘ at the 25th World Travel Awards. Madeira has won the award for four consecutive years – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 . And the isle also beat its contemporaries in 2013 and 2014.

We are Madeira fans and have visited the islands a few times now. And will come back!

Madeira holidays
Madeira, we’ll be back!

We’d be happy to help you plan your holidays, so let us now if we can somehow support you in your holiday planning to Madeira or Portugal in general. Enjoy Madeira during the Fall/Winter!

Emily on holidays in Madeira

We were delighted when we got in touch with Emily, a fashion blogger from London. With a love for fashion, food, drink and travel, it was time for Emily to go on holidays in Madeira toexplore this beautiful island. As you may know, one of the must-do’s on Madeira are the dolphin watching tours, or even better, the swimming with dolphins tours.

Holidays in Madeira

Holidays in Madeira are a goods idea for nature lovers

We hereby share Emily’s experience on holidays in Madeira, which she also shared on her blog, The London Blogger:

Off of mainland Portugal sits the small (800km) island of Madeira; mine and my Mum’s residence for a week of R&R.

The island volcanic, green and rugged, with high cliffs, pebbly beaches and settlements on deltas of the Fajã River. We were staying in the capital, Funchal, which is absolutely brimming with gorgeous mountainous walks and too many dining destinations to even begin to put into words. A true foodie paradise, set amongst 600-year-old architecture or facing the glistening waters of the harbour.

The weather in June is known as ‘blanket month’ due to the cloud that gathers by the mountains at this time of year. However, despite this, I am writing to you right now with a rather sore sunburn after at least three full days of beaming sunshine and poolside relaxation! We happened to have a rather fabulous pool with the most gorgeous views at Four Views Baia which had us slothing out on the hotter days like two beached whales 🐋

On our second to last day, we went swimming with dolphins with SeaBookings. Swimming or even just seeing dolphins has been a bucket list item for my whole life… probably the top one too.  If you’re a long-term follower of mine you’ll know I’m animal obsessed (which, even with using the word ‘obsessed’ is still the understatement of the century…) and I’ve always found dolphins to be SO intelligent and majestic… just totally mesmerising! We set out on a two and a half hour RIG boat consisting of 8 people and a marine biologist and saw two types of dolphin (the Bottlenose and Common dolphin) and were also lucky enough to spot some Beak whales too. They played by the boat and put on a show for us, jumping and doing summersaults above the water and the marine biologist talked us through their species, where they come from etc.

Swimming with dolphins was the highlight of Emily's holidays in Madeira

Swimming with dolphins was the highlight of Emily’s holidays in Madeira

We then got chance to swim with the ‘Common’ dolphins (who were the cheekiest of the bunch – flapping and jumping and playing with us). We jumped in the water and held onto the side of the boat in our snorkels as they played around us. I really can’t begin to explain how incredible it was not only to see dolphins but to know we were seeing them totally in their wild and natural habitat and obeying all wildlife laws and regulations; no feeding them, touching them and we could only stay with one group for ten minutes maximum before whizzing off to find our next set of friends. Thank you SeaBookings for SUCH an amazing experience! The highlight of our trip.

Thank you, Madeira, you bloody beautiful island, you!

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