Adventures in Portugal – Vol VIII

MADEIRA ISLAND, PT (all photos can be clicked to enlarge)

I just returned from a five day visit to Madeira Island, geographically a speck in the Atlantic Ocean. While closer to the African coast at a distance of 520km and almost 1000km from Lisbon, it is still part of the European country of Portugal. Equally famous for Madeira wine and the birthplace of that Christiano guy!

I stayed in the capital city Funchal (sounds like fu-SHAL). It is a crazy beautiful, mountainous city rising from the harbour up to the mountaintops. I could never stop looking up while I was touring around.

Funchal from the harbour lighthouse.

Just for a challenge I started walking up the hill from my downtown hotel and I can tell you, there are no plateaus. It did give me an opportunity to see that since roads are somewhat limited, most residents don’t have a car and access their homes from small lanes or steps.

A little uphill walk never hurts!
Laneway connecting communities.

Agriculture is a major industry. They grow sugar cane, bananas, olives, flowers, eucalyptus, chestnuts, spices, blueberries, I could go on and on. The terraced fields are expertly designed using irrigation channels called levadas. The type of product grown, of course, depends on how much sun that land receives.

A typical terraced hillside.

Midweek I signed up for a minibus-style, all day tour to see more of the Island, outside of Funchal. I am so happy to have done that, it was a blast. I met Oscar, our guide at 8:30am just outside my hotel. Since I was his first pickup, he offered me the front seat, co-pilots chair. Bonus! Our first stop as we headed west from Funchal was a pretty fishing village called Cãmara de Lobos (pee and coffee break), then onto the cliffs of Cabo Girão with a lookout 589 meters high.

Sun shadows make it extra spectacular.

Onto Ribeira (river) Brava, then a thru a tunnel with a natural waterfall called the car wash (that was great) arriving next at Ponta do Sol with rough seas and cliffside villages. At this point I felt like I was back in Cinque Terra, Italy – same vibe!

The beach has black, volcanic soil.

Being pretty far west we started to head north across the centre of the island, climbing the mountains to 1320m. It was a bit rainy up there but our guide offered us an opportunity to take a short hike in the Paul da Serra mountains before lunch. It was nice to stretch the legs and take in the scenery.

The rain soaked rock seeps down and feeds the irrigation channels for growing crops.

Continuing to the northwest village of Porto Moniz, where natural “lava pools” attract swimmers looking to take a dip.

Looking down on Porto Moniz, a resort town.

Starving by now, our tour group of seven enjoyed a great lunch including soup, bread, wine, fish (black scabbard), potatoes and rice, ice cream and coffee. One last stop in the laurel forest area of Serra de Áqua before heading back to the city. Here, I felt like I was back in the Andes of Peru – the diversification of the island is pretty amazing.

Quiet mountain village near Serra de Água.

Back to the city by 6:00pm, a full day. Some local grilled squid for dinner and one last walk along the waterfront before preparing for my morning flight back to the Algarve.

Captivating city at night

So, signing off from Madeira. If you ever get a chance to go there – do it!

Feel free to leave a comment below. If you wish to contact me, my email is Thanks for visiting my site and I hope you’ll return soon…. Blaise

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Portugal – Vol VIII”

  1. Señor Blaise:
    This looks like you are having the time of your life.
    The pictures and stories are great.
    It will be hard to come back to cold Canada.
    I am sure someone will have saved you some shoveling.


    1. Hey man, great to hear from you, having a real blast over here. It’s a lay back, relaxed vibe for sure that I love. Don’t like to think about return to the cold.

  2. Now this is my kind of place! Mountains! Ocean! Forest! WIIIIIIIINE! Looks like you had a great time over there and it looks beautifully quiet and chill. Gotta put this one on my list for sure.

    1. You would love it, a hikers paradise and I didn’t even bring my boots. Oh well, there is a 2.5 day walk across the island that our tour guide leads. We’ll do that next time!

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