Discover the Local Way of Life on Madeira Island
Imagine this: Falling asleep to the sound of spring water trickling down the side of the mountain. Waking up to the sun rising over the ocean. The scent of an array of fresh flowers in every color of the rainbow. Organically grown fig, passion fruit, pear, apple, papaya, guava and banana trees surrounding you, tempting you to taste some of the best fruit you will ever eat in your life.
Think of adventurously hiking amongst oceanfront cliffs, waterfalls, and forests, doing aerial yoga with the sound of waves crashing behind you, getting a surfing lesson on a black sand beach or a deep tissue massage delivered right to you. If this is not #thriving at its finest, then I don’t know what is!
This paradise is Madeira Island, known as the “Pearl of the Atlantic.” Madeira is a Portuguese island just west of the Moroccan coast. A 90-minute flight from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, Madeira promises mental, physical, and spiritual renewal for those who visit it.
Embark on a beautiful hiking adventure through the mountains and along the springs that run through the island’s aqueducts known as Levadas. You cannot miss at least one Levada hiking tour with Antoine in one of the four languages he speaks- English, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Antoine & Cilene Lammertyn are a French-Brazilian couple who have been living on Madeira Island for over a decade. Antoine is a certified mountain guide who offers informative tours to key attractions on the island that include organic picnic lunches using fresh fruits, vegetables, & teas from the garden at his home. Ponta de São Lourenço is another must-see, with colorful red, yellow, and brown cliffs on dry desert land, facing turquoise waves crashing on rocky beaches. Antoine can also guide you through the small Madeiran town of Porto da Cruz, which boasts cliffs made of hardened volcanic lava, ancient ruins, a sugarcane factory, and a stunning infinity pool facing right out over the ocean.
At the conclusion of your tour with Antoine in Porto da Cruz, you may want to take a surfing lesson. If you would rather unwind, connect with his wife, Cilene. Cilene is a yoga and Pilates professional as well as a licensed masseuse with over 18 years of experience. She hosts aerial/acrobatic yoga classes right on the beach in Porto da Cruz. She also offers private or group Integral yoga classes amongst the lush natural backdrops throughout the island. Spending time with Antoine, Cilene, or both will allow you to really connect with the island and feel completely refreshed upon the conclusion of your trip.
With all of this yoga, surfing, and hiking, you will have a handsome appetite! In Madeira’s capital city of Funchal or its transportation hub and the beachfront town of Machico, you cannot miss enjoying Polvo à lagareiro – octopus drizzled in olive oil with herbs and potatoes, lulas – squid, or bacalhau – cod. Taste a colorful variety of fruits at the touristy farmers market, the Mercado dos Lavradores. Also, for under 3€, you can enjoy the local bread known as Bolo da Caco, made of flour and sweet potatoes, and typically baked with bacon, cheese, chorizo, or garlic butter. Finally, you cannot leave Portugal without tasting its traditional Pastel de Nata, an egg tart dusted with cinnamon!
The temperature oscillates between average highs of 72°F and average lows of 60°F. With its mostly sunny and mild climate, Madeira is a perfect destination year round. I definitely suggest visiting in spring or summer during the most enjoyable seasons. Add Madeira Island to your bucket list and start planning your trip today!