Our travel tips for a short trip to Madeira

We went on a 3-day trip to Madeira, a Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic. Well, not exactly in the middle, as it’s less than a 2-hour flight from Lisbon, but it feels like the middle of the Atlantic 🙂 We did this trip to get to know the island a bit better and check out the best sea experiences for you!

Madeira‘s truly a natural gem. It’s the ideal holiday destination if you need some contact with nature in its purest state. On Madeira, you’ll find very steep and green mountains but also a very impressive coastline. The weather in Madeira is very pleasant all year round and the water temperatures are way nicer than on the Portuguese mainland, being around 20ºC.

Here’s a little guide for if you’re planning a short trip to Madeira and like active and more radical experiences, like we do.

You’ll be impressed by such a pure nature

When is the best time to Madeira Island, Portugal:

We did our trip to Madeira in June. We had great weather and very good sea conditions. However, it was already rather crowded with tourists. As some of the locals, we met told us, as the weather on Madeira is good all year round, you might want to book offseason. From October to April, you’ll find fewer people, better prices for your accommodation and flights and friendlier locals!

As long as you’re not looking to spend the whole holidays enjoying the sun while relaxing by the pool and the beach, you might prefer to risk some cloudier days and book offseason. Not convinced yet? Read this article we wrote with 9 reasons why you should visit Madeira in the Fall or Winter season.

How to get to Madeira Island, Portugal:

You can get to Madeira from the main airports in Europe. Frequent low-cost flights to Madeira are operated by EasyJet, Smartwings, Binter Canarias, TAP and British Airways are only a few of them. You can fly from Lisbon, Paris, Prague, London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Gran Canaria, and others. Of season, from November to April, you can find return flights from Lisbon to Madeira from 35€ per person.

You can also get to Madeira from the Algarve, the South of Portugal, by ferry. The ferry from Portimão to Madeira runs from July to September and is part of the Poritmão – Canaries route. Portimão-Funchal runs on Tuesdays at 14h30 and arrives by 14h30 on Wednesday. Prices for the ferry from Portimão to Funchal start at 85€ per person. You can find all the details here.

Madeira’s green mountains

Where to stay on Madeira Island, Portugal:

On our trip, we stayed at Hotel Alto Lido, near the city of Funchal. It’s a nice place to stay if you look for a central location with some nice beaches at walking distance and many restaurants nearby. To get from this hotel to Funchal, there’s a free shuttle service

If you prefer a more urban experience, staying in Funchal, Madeira’s capital city is a good idea. Here, you can find many hotels, hostels and AirBnBs for all budgets. 

Personally, I’d recommend staying a bit “off the beaten track” and look for an Airbnb in a town besides Funchal, like Camara de Lobos or Porto Moniz for example. But choosing where to stay really depends on the experience you’re looking for. 

Renting a car in Madeira is a great idea

How to get around on Madeira Island, Portugal:

In our case, we were looking to discover most of the island, on a short holiday, so hiring a car was the best option. We booked a car with Driving Madeira. The whole experience was just perfect. We opted for pick-up and drop-off at the airport. Highly recommended!

But be prepared, the island has very steep mountains, curvy and narrow roads, long tunnels, and sometimes bad visibility due to fog. As such, we only recommend hiring a car if you are an experienced and confident driver. And because of the steep mountains, we recommend hiring a car with some more horsepower.

Taxis around the island are a good option, especially if you are on holiday in a small group (up to 4). You can even rent a taxi for a full day! Daily rates start at 80 € and give you the possibility to stop at any attraction for as long as you want. And the driver can even give you some tips!

Regarding public transport, there are plenty of bus routes around the island, especially on the Southside. Here you can check timetables and routes. There’s no train, tram or metro on Madeira.

Our favorite means of transport on an island is of course by boat. By boat, you can discover the coastline of Madeira. If you would like to discover Porto Santo island and Desertas islands, there are some boat tours on Madeira that take you there or the ferry

To get to the starting point of the activities on Madeira, like the boat tours, surf lessons and canyoning, you can also opt for a transfer service provided by the tour provided (sometimes even included in the experience price).

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

Things to do on Madeira Island, Portugal:

We can’t deny, our favorite things to do in Madeira are of course sea experiences. Oh well, also mountain and culinary experiences!

Here are the things to do on Madeira that we recommend for active travelers who can’t sit still and just want to explore as much nature as possible during their holidays:

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

Dolphin and whale watching in Madeira

Dolphin and whale watching in Madeira is an unforgettable experience for the whole family in the middle of the Ocean. We were lucky enough to find 3 different species on one single tour! This boat trip is more than just watching these magical creatures. With the local guides and marine biologists, you’ll get to know a lot about cetaceans (dolphins and whales). You can read about our experience here.

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!

Swimming with dolphins in Madeira

Swimming with dolphins in Madeira is more than just watching them very closely. The swimming with dolphins experience is done during the whale and dolphin watching trip. You’ll come on board on one of our two Rigid Inflatable Passenger Boats (RIB) and be taken out to the dolphins and whales. The swimming is only done with Common Dolphins. We found a very big pod of Common Dolphins that were very curious when we got into the water. This was surely one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. You can read all the details about our experience here.

SUP tour in Madeira
Join a fun SUP tour in Garajau

SUP tour in Madeira

SUP, or Stand Up Paddle boarding, is a fun way to explore the coastline. We did this SUP tour just before heading back to the airport. SUP is great because you can enjoy the sea quietly and get a different view of the island of Madeira from a sea view perspective. On this guided tour, you’ll enjoy the local beauty and lush landscape of the island, often merely limited to other types of vessel. We did the tour in Garajau Nature Reserve and had a very nice time with Roberto, the guide. You can read about our experience SUPping here.

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

Coasteering on Madeira

Never heard of coasteering? Coasteering will boost your adrenaline while exploring the coast of Madeira. Coasteering involves swimming, climbing, cliff-jumping, hiking and A LOT of fun! This was our first activity, as soon as we landed. We were picked up by Francisco and his team and were taken to the most amazing places in a natural reserve near Ponta de São Lourenço. After a brief introduction about what we will do during the tour, we’re ready for a true adventure. You can read about our experience here (by Fábio).

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

Canyoning in Madeira

Canyoning is the best activity if you’d like to explore Madeira’s green mountains. We did a full-day experience around “Levada do Alecrim” and never felt so close to nature! Canyoning involves hiking, climbing, and rappelling (abseiling) done on a rope. You’ll discover amazing waterfalls in the mountains of Madeira and jump into crystal-clear waters and slide down fun natural water slides. Be prepared to explore the most hidden places, and be impressed by nature in its purest state! You can read about our experience here.

Lapas, Espetadas and Bolo do Caco

The best restaurants in Madeira Island, Portugal:

Trying out some local food is also one of our favorite things to do on Madeira. And of course, the more authentic, the better!

Seafood at “Muralhas Bar”, Caniçal

This place was recommended to us by our coasteering guides when we asked for “a local place with good and affordable seafood”. And this is exactly what we got. We had some delicious local “lapas” and octopus. Exactly what we needed after our exciting moments doing coasteering!

Welcome to Taberna da Serra

Poncha and local sandwiches at “Taberna da Serra”, Ribeira Brava

We had a snack and some drinks after the canyoning experience. We had had a cereal bar during the experience to keep up the energy levels but after 5 hours in the mountains, we were very hungry! The “pork, garlic and wine” sandwich and the passionfruit “poncha” were amazing, as well as the omelette sandwich. And to make it even tastier, the view was incredible!

Craft beer and seafood at “Beerhouse”, Funchal 

For you beer-lovers out there, the Beerhouse is a must. You can try many different craft beer here, from Madeira, Portugal mainland and also international ones. You’ll be served by very friendly and knowledgeable waiters while enjoying the local tastes of Madeira and enjoying the view over Funchal. We recommend the “Açorda de Lagosta com Gambas” and the passion fruit mousse!

Maktub at Paúl do Mar

Sunset and fresh fish at “Maktub”, Paúl do Mar

Maktub was surely our culinary highlight on Madeira. We were welcomed by the owner, Fábio, and drank a delicious Mojito while the sun was peacefully setting in the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. We were asked if we’d prefer vegan, vegetarian or fish. We opted for fish and were surprised by the “menu do dia”.

Every morning, Fábio drinks coffee with the local fishermen of Paúl do Mar and buys the fish they caught and that is the fish that will be on the menu for the day! We had amazing ceviche and grilled fish in the oven. The desert and wine were also delicious! The environment at Maktub is very easy-going, like a beach bar. We had a great evening and will surely be back the next time we visit Madeira! 

Fábio, the friendly owner of “Maktub”

Skewers at “O Lagar”, Câmara de Lobos

OK, this might not be the most authentic restaurant on Madeira, but we had very good food and wine. The decoration of “O Lagar” is designed for tourists, the theme is clearly “Madeira”. We sat on the cosy patio and had the traditional skewers. I’m not sure if we prefered the skewers or the amazing Bolo do Caco with garlic butter we had as a starter!

Beef sandwich at “Casa de Pasto das Eiras”, Caniço

This place was recommended to us by Roberto, the guide of our epic SUP Tour. We were looking for a light meal after the tour and before heading to the airport. We had very nice sandwiches with omelette and “prego” – beef, served with fries. Next time we visit the island, we’ll come back to Casa de Pasto to try some of the freshly grilled dishes they serve. It smelled so good! It’s a really basic restaurant, that in Portuguese, we’d call a “tasca”. It’s not about the ambience, but about the quality of the food 😉

Whale watching is a very remarkable experience on Madeira
To see such a huge animal as a whale in the wild is a unique experience

We had a great time on this lovely island. We can’t wait to come back with more time, so we can also discover the “Desertas” islands and Porto Santo too! We strongly recommend Madeira as a holiday destination for nature lovers of every age and also families!

We hope these tips will inspire you to book your trip to Madeira! Feel free to share any further tips or to let ask us any questions. Enjoy Madeira!

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!

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!