My Best Destination – Madeira Island

This is a series of blog entries from SkySurf.Travel’s first travel hiree, Romanna.

The volcanic origin of Madeira explains the landscape, height, and even climate differences in diverse parts of the island. It is the top of an underwater volcano, but there is no need to worry. Eruptions stopped more than six thousands years ago!

Ponta De Sao Lorenzo
Ponta De Sao Lorenzo

I was surprised by the erratic changes in the weather. For example, one day there was heavy rain, the sky was grey, and I had an unfortunate mood because of this. I decided to go to the north part of the island and there the weather was remarkably extraordinary. The sun was shining, blue sky – just a perfect day. Due to high mountains in the middle of the island, you never know about the actual situation on the other side of Madeira. There are more than 20 microclimates on the territory of the island! So never stop to discover something new!

As you already know from the previous article, 2/3 of Madeira is a forest. Thanks to the climate and frequent rainfall, these forests are full of unique trees and plants. Can you imagine – there are more than 1,200 different plants on this tiny island! It is the reason why Madeira’s forests are on the list of the UNESCO world heritage.

Want to spend some time one-on-one with nature? I can recommend the best place – Levadas!

Typical Levada Walk view
Typical Levada Walk view

The word “Levada” comes from the Portuguese word levar, which means to carry. It is the name for the small watering canals. The total length of all Levadas on Madeira island is more than 2,000 kilometers! They were built many years ago for water delivery from the north to dry areas in the south; this is how water comes to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards, and vegetable gardens all over the island. Nowadays, lots of tourists prefer Levada walks to sunbathing.

My local friend showed me the WalkMe App, a mobile application guide for discovering Madeira Island. Also, you can visit their website here – http://walkmeguide.com/en/. The app costs 5 euros. To buy it or not is your decision, but I do recommend you to download the free demo – there you can find a list of the Top 10 Levadas of Madeira. It comes in handy and consists of different types of trails with varying distances and challenges.

Some of the walks are difficult, and you may need to have a guide with you. For example, Levada da Ribeira da Janela is 30 kilometers long and has nine tunnels along the way. One of them is almost 2 kilometers long! I’m sure you will need some special equipment, knowledge, and physical training.

Are you afraid of heights? There is a great challenge for you!

Can you see Faja Dos Padres Beach?
Can you see Faja Dos Padres Beach?

Faja Dos Padres – secret beach not far from Funchal. The easiest way to get there – by car. But you can’t get right to the beach – only to the top of the cliff. And there you need to take a Cable Car which goes down with an extreme angle! That was a scary experience. Maybe, I was even more impressed by the trip on the panoramic lift than by the place. Nevertheless, it is worth it.

Organic farming in Aja Dos Padres
Organic farming in Aja Dos Padres

When you come down, you will see lots of gardens and plantations. Due to the unique microclimate, farmers have the opportunity to grow subtropical plants. Banana plantations, vineyards, sugar cane, mango, avocado and lots of other fruits. Locals are proud of this organic farming and will be happy to tell you more about this area.

Besides agriculture, this place is famous by the beach with clear water. You may rent a sunbed and go swimming, or enjoy the view. There is a restaurant near the beach and some houses to stay for a night. You need to know that there is no other way to get out from that place – only by boat and by cable car which closes at 7 pm. So you need to be aware of timing or to rent a place to stay for a night.

Do not miss a chance to try local seafood! There is a wide variety of fish and seafood in every cafe and restaurant. My favorites were Lampas and Mussels. Both of them are kinds of clams, but I have never seen and tried Lampas before; served grilled with garlic and butter, then take a lemon and squeeze over it. Usually, you can find them in starters, but once I ate a few plates of them for dinner, so much tasty they are! A better taste with traditional bread – Bolo de Caco. It is typical for Madeira island and has rounded edges and a flattened form. Caco came from the cooking process – prepared on special hot coals named caco.

Traditional Lampas dish
Traditional Lampas dish

During my adventure, I made a rule – look for the place where locals eat. It always works! You will find better prices, better service, and a real taste of the country. Sometimes such sites have no social media accounts, and you can not read references on Trip Advisor; all they have is tasty food.

Want to try fresh mussels?
Want to try fresh mussels?

Madeira was the best destination on my trip. I fell in love with nature, weather, landscape, air, plants, food, and even with long tunnels! You can come here and discover it every time from different angles and find out new spots. This place is inspiring, and I am sure that everyone can find something special on Madeira island. Wish you to come and feel it on your own experience!

Ribeira da Janela beach
Ribeira da Janela beach

Hope you enjoyed and have changed your must-visit list already. See you soon!

– Romanna

Romanna’s trip to eight cities (five islands) in Europe cost a total of $815 (flights only).  To build your own cheap multicity itinerary, visit SkySurf.Travel.

View more photos of Romanna’s European SkySurf.Travel adventure on Instagram

To read more of Romanna’s SkySurf.Travel adventure blogs, click here.

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