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  • DARREN MORRIS

Madeira has so much more to offer than you imagined

The Island offer fantastic walking and hiking, water sports, golf, spas, and botanical gardens are just a few of the many memorable things you can see and do on this lovely island. Often thought as a winter destination, due to the mild climate, it has grown in popularity over the past few years to become an all-year-round destination; indeed when I travelled to the island it was December, and I enjoyed temperatures in the 70’s!


Madeira is 32 miles long and 12 miles wide; it is an incredibly beautiful sub-tropical island with the highest point at almost 6000 feet.

Terraced farms and vineyards, pine forests, waterfalls, and craggy cliffs, and of course unspoilt countryside, the island is often called the floating garden of the Atlantic.


Eating out?


Like many European destinations, there are hundreds of restaurants to enjoy while on holiday to Madeira, from the Michelin star restaurants to small family business where service excels. The food is superb, Madeira has lots of island dishes, the fresh Atlantic fish, are delicious; a local speciality, ‘espetada’ – is beef cooked over a fire of laurel and served on a skewer.


What can you do on Madeira?


You will find over 600 miles of walks you can undertake these are called Levada’s, I had a guide for half a day which is really lovely, some are quite challenging, and walking shoes would prove useful. You will find a varied selection of water sports, including with scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and sailing. Swimming in the sea is safe and here, and lidos on the outskirts of Funchal are popular.

Car hire?


Hiring a car for a couple of days, I feel enhances the holiday, most travellers stay in Funchal; however, some of the nicest areas can be found by venturing out of Funchal, we travelled north to Sao Vicente for a couple of nights, it’s a wonderful little resort, very quiet, very local, and makes for a lovely twin-centre with Funchal.


Gardens in Madeira


As you would expect of an island referred to as the Floating Garden of the Atlantic, Madeira has many exotic gardens. Below I have listed a couple that can be visited whilst on your holidays.


The Botanical Gardens, Quinta do Bom Sucesso – have more than 2,000 exotic plants from all over the world and are now also considered a centre of science in the struggle to protect endangered plant species. On the outskirts of Funchal, the Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit, whether you are an enthusiast or enjoy nature at its best. Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.

Orchid Garden - Jardim Orquídea. This garden has more than 50,000 plants, and its orchid jungle is one of a kind in Europe. They also research and develop new orchids and have bottled baby orchids that you can purchase and bring home as hand luggage. Located close to the Botanical Gardens open every day from 9.30 am to 6 pm.


Beaches?


Madeira is not known for its beaches; however, you will find a couple of decent beaches; these are in the main, man-made; however, you will also find pebble beaches along the coastline. If you would like to experience a more traditional sandy beach, I would recommend a twin-centre with Madeira’s sister island, Porto Santo, it has a wonderful 9km sandy beach to enjoy.


Water sports?


Water sports can be found, from scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing (dinghies), windsurfing, water skiing, to canoeing.


Madeira Wine


No visit to the island is complete without a Madeira Wine visit; you will find many wineries that you can visit on your holidays and enjoy the large range of local wines and, of course, there is the wine festival each year.



Culture?


The island has 23 museums covering art, photography, the history of the island, local wine, a toy museum and much more. We can give you more information if you want to explore these on your holidays in Madeira. The range of churches and interesting buildings.


Places to stay?


Well, this is a personal choice, I have been lucky enough to stay at both international hotels, and the local Quinta accommodation, Quinta accommodation can be small Inn’s to larger deluxe hotels; personally, I prefer the Quinta’s, mainly as you find a warm welcome and often they are family-owned for generations.


I have stayed at many accommodations on the island, I have selected 2 of my favourite places, 1 hotel, and 1 Quinta, of course, I can give you a rundown of other accommodation that may suit if need be.


THE CLIFF BAY – a fabulous 5-star hotel


The hotel has a 5-disc rating from TripAdvisor reviewers, and it more than deserves it, perched high upon a peninsula, this elegant hideaway enjoys enchanting views of the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel is cloaked in the greenery of perfectly manicured gardens. Peppered with swaying palms and fuchsia-coloured splashes of bougainvillaea, the curving pathways take you by the cliff edge for uninterrupted vistas. Every detail has been orchestrated, from the elevated position of the pool to the seaside bathing platform, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.

The alfresco terrace at the two Michelin-starred Gallo d’Oro provides another way to celebrate the setting while dining on fabulous fusion cuisine. The hotel's rooms have refreshing and elegant décor, adding further comfort and class to your escape.


If budget allows, opt for the superior upper floor rooms, and sea view at that, the rooms are large, spacious, and beautifully furnished you will find a marble bathroom with a separate shower. Each room offers free Wi-fi, LCD cable TV, DVD/CD player, air-conditioning, tea/coffee making, mini-bar, safe and balcony.

The hotel has 2 outdoor pools, and 1 indoor pool, and an array of facilities.


Quinta Da Casa Branca - Elegant boutique style


Quinta Da Casa Branca is lovely, again a worthy 5-disc award from TripAdvisor, it is set within botanical gardens and combining elegant interiors with impeccable service, Quinta Da Casa Branca is perfect for those searching for a luxurious hotel with a personal touch. There are just 49 delightful rooms, meaning your experience here will be both intimate and relaxed. The hotel is a member of The Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, so you are certainly in for one of the finest boutique hotel experiences in Madeira. The rustic, garden setting is idyllic, and there is also a spa and à la carte restaurant.

My suggestion is to stay in one of the lead in garden rooms, these face south, the Garden rooms are on the ground floor featuring a private terrace opening onto the gardens bounded by screens of greenery, they are lovely.

The Quinta is in a quiet residential area close to shops and restaurants, Quinta da Casa Branca is surrounded by lush green vegetation and boasts an award-winning contemporary architectural design.


There is a large heated pool in the garden, with a further adult-only pool set in a secluded spot and a range of health and beauty treatments on offer in the spa.


For more information, please contact us. Darren

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