The little island of Madeira was a real surprise to me. I went there in April; I was expecting a few days just a little restful, but I did not expect such a change of scenery. From cliffs to tropical forests, to beaches and the presence of turtles and dolphins … A real moment of happiness in Portugal! It owes its nickname the Pearl of the Atlantic, its grandiose landscapes and its biodiversity.
Madeira was an island covered with a very thick forest, where the man could not settle. But due to several years of fires, discovering this little paradise has become possible. The name Madeira means the « island of the woods ». Located 600 km from the Moroccan coast, it enjoys a very warm climate but its position in the middle of the ocean also confers a subtropical climate.
The capital is Funchal, which is also the port and the city that concentrates most of the population. This is where we rented accommodation.
The two main activities are agriculture and tourism. The service sector employs more than 76% of the working population.
There are plenty of activities and explorations to be done, such as climbing Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of the island at 1830 meters above sea level and hiking in the middle of the forest.
We chose to hike to the Ponta de São Lourenço, which is a long wild penisnsule at the eastern end of Madeira. It is a nature reserve that protects all the coastal fauna and flora, very dense. This hike of several kilometers is of a rather easy level. It offers many impressive views of the cliffs and waves crashing like rock, but it also has pebble beaches very pleasant to rest under the sun.
To the south of the island is the highest cliff in Europe, 580 meters high: Cabo Girão. It is quite possible to reach it by car, thanks to a small road that crosses the mountain. The view is very well arranged, you can even walk on a glass floor before admiring the dizzying view. This is very impressive for people who are dizzy.
The coastline in general offers magnificent scenery. This volcanic island has steep cliffs, impressive rock formations and verdant mountains. It is a mixture of Asian landscapes but also much more rocky, where the summits are sometimes foggy. We can even discover microclimates: Indeed, when we climbed to Pico do Arieiro, the clouds were all around us, it was very cold and it was raining, while at the bottom we had a beautiful blue sky and a sun .
To the west of Madeira are the natural pools of Porto Moniz. It is a cutting of the volcanic deposits that was made by the sea that gives this incredible landscape. These swimming pools with soft sea water are free and totally accessible by the public. On the other hand, they are not maintained to preserve the natural side, but care must be taken not to slip on the algae deposited on the ground.
In the center of the island, we went for a day hike in the evergreen valley of Rabaçal. This forest is abundant in moss and ferns of all kinds, it has a very humid climate which gives it a very special atmosphere. Trails are sometimes very narrow and almost dangerous. It is therefore necessary to be equipped and avoid doing so with children. The reward is to the heuer: One discovers natural springs and the waterfalls of Risco.
There is also another very typical thing of Madeira that I must present: The small town of Santana and its narrow houses with roofs of pointed stubbles, in the form of a capital « A ». This small village has several, but it is unfortunately very touristy. If you have a car you can drive around and discover others, a little more scattered.
In summary, Madeira is quite a small island and easy to navigate in a few days where you can discover absolutely beautiful landscapes. A total change of scenery that I highly recommend!