Madeira… the flower island, the island with perpetual spring, the island where everything is connected – cultural.
But let’s start chronological…
We choose to travel Madeira end of May – first because of our work schedule, but second because it’s one of the month with less rain. Anyway, most time of the year Madeira isn’t the island to go for a beach holiday, but you will have mild temperatures at any date, some month with less, some month with more rain – so it will always be a
good idea to go! Together with the beautiful nature, it’s the perfect place to be active outside, explore the trails, mountains and coasts. And not to forget: for photography
Luckily we had the perfect flight times and hadn’t to start at home to early but with enough time at arrival. Many of you may have heard of the short airport, rough winds and shaky or aborted touchdowns. Nothing of this happened to us, but in all conditions be ready for a really tough break! You will find an small Airport, every point is easy and in no time to reach – so are the counters of the rental companies.
I would always recommend to rent a car, the island has many remote places, great views and beauty behind every corner. It’s a good idea to be flexible and on your own. The island is mall, so if you are around funchal (we where not!) you could reach every point on the island in about an hour.
But be ready for small steep roards, curves and stop signs at the worst pitch you could imagine to start up. So if you are not used to stick shift – get an automatic! Roads with a pitch with over 30% are usual. I drive mostly automatic since 2014 and it was a hard time to get used to the stick shift in this envoirement.
If you thought about madeira as an island for old people – think again! No matter what activity you like most, i would bet you will find an awesome spot on madeira to do it!
Hiking, Mountainbiking, downhill or racer, Offroad tours with a defender, Dolphin Tours, diving or snorkeling, kayak, stand up paddling and canyoning … i could go on forever!
We decided to go just for the awesome hikes, photography and relaxation. And of course getting another ocean from my list i have to swim.
Our Favorite Hikes:
Levada do Caldeirão Verde
It’s called the green kettle – and this is not by accident. The original parking spot is/was closed, so we had to park the car additional 2,2km from the start of the trail. At the end of the day we had walked 28km. Was it worth it? Oh yes it was. You will find a good path with only few stairs and few small passages, the abyssm is often hidden behind some bush and trees. You will walk under some small water falls, through dark and low tunnels (bring a headlamp), epic views and wonderful green nature. At the end you will find some rainforest like plants and a massive waterfall. I can only recommend to hike the addition kilometers to the Levada do Caldeirão Inferno. The tunnels will get smaller and longer but the views even better! I have never seen a trail like this!
The bad part, and it’s the same with nearly every trail on madeira, you have to walk the same way to get back.
Ponta Sao Lourenco
An iconic landmark at the most eastern part of the island. It’s a shorter hike, but be ready for some rough stairs especially if you want to climb the last hill. But you will find many great viewpoints and heavy cliffs. And an endless view along a part of the south coast of madeira
I would call it a shorter hike along a beautiful levada and amazing view. The best part about it: You will have the chance to see the Risco Fall AND the 25 Fontes in a „rush“ (please don’t rush). And the Risco Fall is only a small detour. Don’t worry if you have nearly no view, strong wind and fog at the trailhead. It’s at higher altitude and you will hike in an valley.
Balcoes de Ribeiro Frio:
This one is really short one, but with a rewarding 360° Panorama at the viewpoint. If the sky is clear you are able to see through the valleys to the coast. I think it’s also great with kids – and at the balcony you will find plenty of tame birds, you can feed them from your hands.
If you want to double it, you can hike the Levada do Furado. Be careful the area around Ribeiro Frio could be very crowded with some tourist busses and police to control the wild parking.
I liked this city, the often small steep roads, old buildings and nice places. Be careful about the usual tourist naps and the often insistent waiters. Have a look at the market place, walk the coastline or visit the Monte. But think twice, there is not this much to see at the monte, if you do not plan to take the slides down. There is a botanical garden but it comes with additional charge for entry.
What we missed:
We did not manage to hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo – so we will have to be back some day to catch up.
We had not the focus on the north, with it rougher coast and weather, so we also missed the natural pools
If you want to photograph the coastal areas the directions of sunrise und sunset will suite better in european winter month.
We also skipped the big needles in the ocean near Ribeira da Janela.
An i’m sure there are many other places we where not able to discover yet. My guess it won’t be the last time to visit madeira!