There are things in life that get better and better with time. For instance, playing the piano for the very first time vs. playing the piano after five years of experience are two usually very different things. Or giving a public talk for the first time vs. giving the same talk for the third time. You need to practice most things and eventually they will get better.
Madeira needs no practice
But not so with Madeira. The first time you visit this island will be your very best time you will ever spend there, so make sure to enjoy every second of it! Of course this also means that if you don’t like Madeira that much, you probably never will. I remember my first time on paradise island in the year 2015 very well – I tried to remember what made my first time so special and here are my tips for making your first trip to the Hawaii of Europe as wonderful as mine:
1. The right timing
Visit the island during summer, say August or maybe even September. This is the best time on the island, as it usually does not rain and the ocean temperature is very nice. Also, everybody is in that summer mood and life is just good. It’s just nice being around that time of the year.
2. Madeira is loved for its nature, not its cities
Don’t stay too long in Funchal. You should visit the capital on your first stay, but one day is enough. Make sure to see the real Madeira. The Pearl of the Atlantic is treasured not for its cities, but for its nature. Go for a levada walk, go see the islands most eastern and most western spot. This leads me to the next point:
3. Rent a car
There are taxis and busses on the island but believe me when I tell you, you want to stop every 10 meters and stare at the landscape, the cliffs and the ocean in pure awe and wonder – and probably take some pictures or just relax at the magnificent spot you’ve just found. You can’t do that when you don’t have a car.
Watch the perfect ocean sunset on the islands west coast.
5. Whales and dolphins
Go whale watching! You will almost for sure see dolphins and absolutely for sure the islands coastline. It’s just beautiful!
6. Have a look at the island from the ocean
Talking about the coastline – it really is nice to look at from the ocean. So if you are adventurous, you can try surfing or stand up paddling.
7. Meet the locals
You will find them in bars and restaurants all over the island and they are happy to give you some local tips. It is also nice to visit the local parties – in fact the biggest festival is in Sao Vicente each year around 25 of August. If it is not so easy for you to get in touch with locals, book tours with one of the many local companies.
8. Take notes for the next time
In case you do meet locals and they show you around, take notes so you remember your favorite spots and bars. The first time we visited the island we stopped at some nice poncha bars with our local friend and now cannot remember where all of them were! The island is really not that big – still it is impossible for us to find some of those bars again.
Did I do all the above things back in 2015?
Almost all. For me, this trip was wonderful. The ocean was warm, the viewpoints along the streets were nice, I kind of ‘learned’ how to surf, the locals I met turned into friends and I do not have to tell you about the most wonderful ocean sunsets on this planet. If I could only find out where these poncha bars were…
Anyway, make sure you enjoy it, peace out and lotsa love, Hana.
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