We set out to discover Madeira Island to let ourselves be captivated by its charms – city, beach, nature and gastronomy. Here we find a huge variety of points of interest and genuine hospitality. We visited Funchal and Porto Santo and stayed at Vila Baleira Hotels, ideal for family holidays, at any time of the year. Madeira Island is a popular tourist destination located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It belongs to Portugal and is known for its stunning natural beauty, a mild, tropical climate all year round and a culture rich in traditions, so it is no surprise that it attracts visitors from all over the world.
Nature is undoubtedly the word that most characterizes the island. A countless number of tunnels that cross enormous cliffs and green hills and an ocean as far as the eye can see where we are dazzled by the splendor of mother nature, which at times seems so perfect and untouchable. Mountains, lush forests, waterfalls and enchanting beaches, like the volcanic beach of Seixal, our favorite, with black sand so fine it looks like dust. Pico do Areeiro and Pico Ruivo are two of the highest mountains on the island and offer spectacular views, but also Câmara de Lobos, Miradouro do Cabo Girão, Santana (with the famous typical houses of the island of Madeira) and the extensive network of trails which allows fascinating walks for visitors to explore the natural landscape.
Madeira Island also has a rich and unique culture, with traditional festivals, folk music, the famous fireworks at new year’s eve or local gastronomy where it is essential to try dishes such as meat “espetada” and “bolo do caco” and drink a “poncha”. We also took the opportunity to stop by the Mercado dos Lavradores, right in the center of Funchal, to buy exotic fruits and traditional sweets. The urban center is where we find museums, shops and restaurants, we stroll through the historic streets in a frenzy that doesn’t run over and in the company of local people who smile.
Our rest happened at the Hotel Vila Baleira Funchal which, due to its privileged location in the heart of the Lido area, allows quick access to different parts of the city. It is a short walk from the center and features contemporary interiors, careful design and an outdoor pool with terrace, located on the top floors of the hotel where we can not only take a refreshing dip but also enjoy a light lunch with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. Burgers, salads, toasts and delicious sangrias are available, among other snacks. Our family suite is spacious and comfortable, with a living room and a terrace with sea views, where we can peacefully watch the sunset.
The adventure continues, this time towards Porto Santo. We caught the boat early and in just over two hours we reached our destination. Porto Santo is known for its stunning beaches, clear waters and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Funchal. Here we have the full feeling of a vacation, where doing absolutely nothing is a true luxury. We took advantage of these days to relax and charge our batteries, exactly what we needed.
I would venture to say that Porto Santo Beach is one of the best in the world and it is not the case that it was chosen as “the best European beach of the year” in 2022, without forgetting the therapeutic virtues of its sands, already attested in studies scientific, and recommended for various treatments. Therapy also involves strolling along its extensive beach, stretching approximately nine kilometers along the south coast of the island, dipping your feet in the fine, golden sand, in the crystal clear waters and letting the sun embrace us in all its splendor.
But contrary to popular belief, Porto Santo is not just about the beach! The island offers several walking trails or jeep tours that allow us to explore the natural beauty: Miradouro das Flores, Morenos, Pico Ana Ferreira (a rare phenomenon in the world) or Quinta das Palmeiras.
Accommodation at Vila Baleira Porto Santo All Inclusive is, as the name suggests, an all-inclusive hotel, perfect for family holidays, so you don’t have to worry about anything. The restaurant has different themed nights and dishes for all tastes – which pleases both parents and children – and in the spa we can enjoy a Thalassotherapy Circuit with sea water (one of the oldest, most natural and effective anti-stress treatments in the world) and a relaxing massage, perfect for ending the day in the best way.
Right next door we find Vila Baleira Suites, located on the beachfront. Comfort, privacy and local cuisine with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood. After dinner, we enjoy the sun loungers and the tranquility of the beach, we watch the sunset and let time pass, without rushing or worrying and it’s incredible how something so simple can give us so much pleasure. A sea of nature that surrounds us and gives us life and a destination to which we promise future visits.
By Carla Branco