The Garajau Natural Marine Park is a protect area that is full of spectacular marine life. It is an ideal area for scuba diving, and there are a number of dive schools and centres that take visitors to see the wonderful marine life. Most of the island is a nature reserve meaning the natural environment is unspoilt.
The golf courses are not as well-known as many in Portugal but they are beautifully well kept and welcoming to visitors. Santo de Serra golf course is the longest on the island and ideal for all abilities. Palheiro Golf Club is a beautiful course overlooking the town and bay of Funchal.
The island has been a great place for sailing for hundreds of years, there a ports and harbours all over the island offering sailing trips and days out. There a facilities to hire sailing boats and yachts at the majority of seaside towns on the island.
Many of the beaches on the island have water sports available such as paddle boating and canoeing. Surfing has become a popular sport on the island in recent years and there are a few beaches that are ideal for surfing dotted around the island.
The island was discovered in 1419 and has a number of historic buildings and monuments. The best way to experience the history of the island is to take a guided tour; there are tours of most of the major towns and also the nature reserves and surrounding areas.
Two thirds of the island are classified as nature reserve. The Garajau National Park near Canico is the only exclusive marine reserve in Portugal, there is a great number of fascinating marine wildlife in the protected waters of the reserve which are clear and perfect for snorkelling and diving. The Desertas and Selvagens Islands are classed as a nature reserve and are home to the endangered Monk Seal.
Museums and Churches
Madeira Story Centre is an interactive museum about the island’s history and culture. Contemporary Art Museum is a museum house modern artworks and exhibitions from artists of the island as well as international guests. The Funchal City's Museum displays artefacts from 500 years of island culture.
The Mercado Dos Lavradores in Funchal is the most popular market with tourists and is open all day Monday to Saturday. The local markets frequented by the locals where they buy their fresh fruit and vegetables usually take place at the weekend.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches on the island that are ideal for sunbathing and relaxing. If you don’t fancy the black volcanic sand then make your way to the two beaches with imported golden sands, Calheta and Machico. Porto Santo is an island just of Madeira that consists of a stretch of beautiful beach almost 10 kilometres long which provides the perfect setting for a day in the sun.
The Garajau National Park is a marine reserve on the island. Within its boundaries there is a great number of beautiful marine wildlife which makes it the perfect place for snorkelling and diving. An interactive island tour is perhaps the best way to explore and discover the wonders of this paradise island; tours leave form most of the major towns over the island.
The Mercado Dos Lavradores in Funchal is a very popular market with tourists and is open all day Monday to Saturday, and everything from fruit and veg to CD’s and clothes is on sale here. The town of Funchal has a number of shops and boutiques dotted around its centre.
Eating out in Madeira is a delightful experience; there are plenty of local restaurants serving classic dishes. For a romantic evening try out one of the many seafood restaurants close to the sea, where you can have some wonderfully fresh fish while gazing out at spectacular views.
Santa Cruz Aqua Park has a selection of slide, rides and pools and is a great day out for the family. Madeira Theme Park is an exciting theme park consisting of various rides and activities such a row boats, climbing, bungee jumping and zip wires.
Family Friendly Beaches
The island’s beaches have black volcanic sand; they are still as clean and enjoyable if a little hotter. If golden sand is a must, then head to Machico beach and Calheta both of which have imported golden sand. The island of Porto Santo, just off Madeira is a paradise island of golden beaches, only a short boat ride from the main island. The waters are crystal clear blue and the calmer beaches are ideal for snorkelling.
There are plenty of restaurants on the island many specialising in local and traditional cuisine a lot of which is centred around seafood. There are also a number of restaurants that serve Portuguese style food. If you would prefer slightly more familiar food, there are plenty of restaurants catering for international cuisines.
Things to Do
Dolphin and whale watching is very popular in Madeira the seas around the island are heavily populated with whales and dolphins and there are a large number of boat tours offering to take tourists to see them animals in their natural habitat. Horse riding is great way to explore the nature parks that cover most of the island. Bike tours are an exhilarating way to experience the island and discover some of its best kept secrets.