We have visited Madeira back in 2014 and I always had a feeling that one day I will be back to this beautiful Island. For many years this gorgeous, green, and friendly place got stuck in head, even though we have lived in Bali for a while – the Island of Gods!
When we first visited the Hawaii of Europe-(yes, that’s how people call the Madeira Island!) we decided to spend big part of our budget to do some trips and walks that we found they are offering all around the Island. We thought that it will be a great idea to explore the place with the guide who will show us what the island has to offer, and it was the best decision.
Its pretty easy to book the trips as they are available around each corner in the most touristic places of Madeira- such as Funchal- where our hotel was located.
If you are not a person that needs luxuries, a 3-star hotel is not a bad option to book- they are inexpensive, you do not have the desire to stay at the hotel all the time and are free to explore, walk and eat in local places.
As we stayed here for two weeks , we have managed to do around 8 trips in total- including the dolphin watching when they take you on the catamaran to explore the beautiful waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.
This time round we have decided to stay here for a bit longer- as wanted to escape the winter in our country that can be quite cold at times😊 We came in December 2022 and will be leaving at the end of March 2023. We switched from -8ish temperatures to around + 20 (not bad, heh?)
This time round knowing we have more time on our hands on this beautiful island- we have done some solo trips and some organised walks as well. We believe it is nice to explore the place by yourself whenever safe and possible.
The trip this article is about was a trip alongside the south coast of the island that included stops at beautiful villages that I will tell a little bit more about in the below section😊
Firstly- we were picked up by the lovely driver/tour guide Bruno. He was right on time at the designated stop in Funchal when we were waiting to start our journey. There were some other lovely people already in the van, and then we moved forward to pick the rest of the crew.
First stop on the list was Ponta do Sol- which translate to the, tip of the sun, Ironically- it started raining pretty heavily so were not really able to explore as much, even shielding under umbrella did nothing as the wind was pretty strong. However, it was great to see the place during the day as we had seen it once in the evening time, right before Christmas. We went to see the beautiful, famous Madeiran Xmas decorations- and it was truly worth it. Also, it’s the place to see the Cascata dos Anjos- Angels Waterfall. The water falls to the middle of the road which you can pass through in your car or if you are brave enough- to take a cold, refreshing shower😊
Moving forward we were taken to the villages very well known for its large production of sugar cane and banana- Madalena do Mar and Paul do Mar. If you are looking for a nice hiking trails that are kid friendly, you should definitely check out Madalena Do Mar trails with historic sights.
We stayed a bit longer in Paul do Mar where we supposed to eat lunch/have a break and that’s where the rain really started to poring down like crazy. We found a small local bar to sit down for some food and drinks. Initially we were thinking of The Beach Bar Paul do Mar as they have advertised for a big vegan options, however after reviewing the menu I knew it may not be worth the money- some salad Buddha bowls and vegan bolo do caco with hummus! for minimum 10 euros. So we opted for a small local place where they served good poncho and amazing sumo de laranja (freshly squeezed orange juice) and some vegetarian burgers- that can easily be made vegan if you ask for no cheese and garlic butter. The fries were also tasty- with the skin on and sprinkled with some herbs. We were super stuffed after that, had good drinks and they gave us some peanuts to snack on while drinking. All that with very affordable prices- so look for local places rather than restaurants if you are on the budget😊
We then continued the trip to Ponta do Pargo that is known for its iconic Lighthouse and a cliff-top escarpment extending into the North Atlantic Ocean. This place gave me chills just standing there- although magnificent, it was very unsettling to look down (but I will still recommend it for people with fear of heights like myself as it is soo worth the feeling😉).
From there we moved to the village of Calheta- meaning ,small bay, where you can find one of the two man-made sandy beaches of Madeira! Calheta is on radar for many visitors as it offers countless hiking trails, diversity of beaches and cultural/historical spaces. It has one of the lowest rainfall rates on the island and mild climate all year round… If you are one of those people that cannot just sit around and be moving- visit Calheta and see what it offers- including surfing activities, hiking, bird watching , bike tours and boat trips!
After all that attractions done within around 7 hours, we were safely taken back to Funchal. Luckily for us, I have made some vegan curry the day before, so have eaten well😊
Despite the weather not being the greatest, it was worth to get up in the morning and to this trip- especially that we shared this experience with friends, and there is nothing better to spend the day outside being fully present, enjoying every moment.