Madeira & Porto Santo - a marvel in the Atlantic
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Madeira’s legendary beauty and exceptional climate have long made this small Atlantic island a popular tourist destination.
Strictly speaking, the “Pearl of the Atlantic” is actually an archipelago made up of four islands: Madeira itself, the smaller Porto Santo, plus two uninhabited islands with the apt titles of Desertas (Deserted) and Selvagens (Wild), the latter two being important bird sanctuaries.
As for the Main Island, spectacular mountain scenery, sub-tropical forests and exotic vegetation combine with a rich historic patrimony and climate to offer travellers a year round holiday destination par excellence.
The island is also home to one of the world’s great beverages – Madeira wine, a fortified wine produced from the vineyards planted in the volcanic hills of the island.
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Madeira - culture
Festivities The people of Madeira certainly know how to organise a festival. Some of the best include the Flower festival (June, Funchal), São Pedro celebrations (June, Ribeira Brava), Nossa Senhora do Monte Festivities, (Terreiro da Luta, August) and the São Silvestre. The latter takes place on New Years Eve in Funchal and its riotous celebrations has turned Madeira into one of the hot spots to be on the 31st of December.
Handicrafts The history of Madeira handicrafts takes in a number of long established crafts. Embroideries and tapestries, for example, date back to the 19th century. Wickerwork, which still has a thriving local industry to this day, is based on Madeira willow, which grows easily on the island and has excellent qualities. Objects are often crafted in elaborate patterns with anything part of the body artisans have free to tie with, including feet or even teeth.
Madeira - activities
Trekking It is generally acknowledged that Madeira is one of the best places for trekking.
The climate, landscape and “levadas” (the unique irrigation canals that offer the chance of trekking everywhere on the island) are just some of the reasons. Madeira is also walkable all year round - never too hot or too cold and the scenery is wonderful, taking in a vast panorama of vegetation, fauna, tunnels and gorges.
Golf Madeira offers 45 holes of championship golf divided between two courses, both of which are remarkable for their scenic beauty – Palheiro Golf Club (www.palheirogolf.com) and Clube de Golfe Santa Serra (www.santodaserragolf.com).
The island plays host to the P.G.A. European Tour every spring, when the Madeira Island Open takes place at Santo da Serra Golf Club.
Deepsea Fishing Madeira is a premiere fishing location, with its waters home to a wide variety of species, many of which are seasonal. These include white marlin, tunas, amberjacks and spearfish.
Bigger varieties include the shark, with the best time for fishing these fine specimens generally from September and December.
Travel Info Madeira is a small island and travelling by car can be a fun and relaxing way to get to know the island.
Ferry services from Madeira to the small sister island of Porto Santo takes around 2 1/2 hours depending on weather conditions.