Living on an island has plenty of advantages if you like the coast. In the UK, you’re never really more than a few hours’ drive from the sea, giving you ready access to lovely beaches, rolling surf and fresh seafood.
The only thing that lets Britain down is its often damp and cold weather, which turns coastal areas stormy and unwelcoming for much of the year. The same cannot be said of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, which can provide the perfect antidote to the British weather.
With the average maximum temperature ranging between the high teens and mid-20s and minimum lows in double figures all year round, you’re never really need more than a jumper when out and about on this Portuguese archipelago.
But with so much water around, you’re more likely to be living in your bathers or a wetsuit during your stay. Here are some of the best ways to get wet in Madeira.
Located over 500km off the east coast of Africa, Madeira is exposed to whatever the Atlantic throws at it, which in the winter months can mean some serious swells arrive on its rocky, volcanic shores.
But although the weather may be welcoming, Madeira’s surf spots are not quite so accommodating for novice surfers. A lack of beach breaks, an abundance of rocks lurking below the surface and plenty of fast, hollow waves mean Madeira is not the place to paddle out for the first time.
However, if you are confident on a board, you will be able to have some serious fun at top spots like Jardim do Mar, which is known to generate double-overhead peaks, and Paul do Mar, famous for its big barrels.
With its reefs and wrecks, Madeira’s coastline offers a wealth of opportunities to head under the water and get up close and personal with some serious sea creatures – whether you’re a beginner or an experienced scuba diver.
Some of the fish you can spot in Madeira’s clear waters include barracuda, trigger fish, parrot fish and trumpet fish. And if you’re really lucky you’ll get to swim with one of the giants of the sea – the manta ray. These majestic creatures can grow to around six metres across and it’s awe-inspiring to watch them glide effortlessly through the water.
Sailing and boating
If surfing and diving are too strenuous for your liking, or you’d just like to take some time out from participating in watersports, enjoying a boat trip is a great way to see the islands without exerting yourself. There’s also a good chance you’ll meet some incredible sea creatures along the way, such as dolphins and whales, without having to don breathing apparatus and a wetsuit.
So from seasoned surfers to wildlife enthusiasts, Madeira’s coastline really does have something to please everyone. Combine this wealth of activities with warm and pleasant weather and you’ll begin to see why Madeira is called the Pearl of the Atlantic.
Operators including Monarch offer some great value all-inclusive breaks to the islands, and no matter where you stay, you’ll be close to beaches and harbours where you can embark on whatever water-based adventures float your boat.
Throw in some picturesque hiking, fine dining and wine tasting and you’ll have an island getaway to remember in Madeira.