Tripsite Traveler - Multi-Adventure on Madeira Island
Our group of 7 ranges in age from 62-70. Seasoned, but prepared for an active vacation. If you are in the same boat, you will enjoy this wonderful trip as there were always options if an alternative was needed.
First, we chose the option of staying in different towns instead of the same location in Funchal. This allowed us time to explore three small towns at night and experience different hotels, food and climates. Our favorite hotel was Sunset Bay in warm Ponta do Sol, all rooms have a sea view. Swimming in the sea was refreshing and rejuvenating.
Hike on Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco
We hired a guide for each of the hikes and felt they were essential. The guides were extremely friendly and knowledgeable, providing information about everything we saw and also about life on the island.
We had a windy day on Ponta de Sao Lorenco but clear, breathtaking views. The arid landscape provided quite a contrast to the colorful, volcanic cliffs and aquamarine sea
A unique feature to us, we appreciated that there was always a restaurant to enjoy at some point in each hike. And on this hike if you were too tired to make the return trip, you had the option to return to the trailhead by boat!
Bike Tour from Camacha to Porta do Cruz
Our group did not have much experience with single-track biking but you guessed it, we had options! You could either mountain bike all the way down the mountain, in parts, or not at all as the trail ran alongside the paved road. Our guide, Marco, let the group test it out at the top on our e-bikes. There were single tracks and large meadows. Our group did some off roading in the easier parts and took the windy road down most of the way. Cars were minimal as we picked up speed down the mountain. One stop was at an isolated Tea House for sweets and beverages. For lunch, Marco recommended a restaurant for their delicious meat skewers.
The last stop was at the bottom of the mountain, for the local drink Poncha. The popular Poncha is made with fresh squeezed orange and lemon juices, honey, very strong local rum, all whipped by hand! If we had to choose, this was our favorite day of the tour.
Hike Levada of Caldeirao Verde to Ilha
Here you hike alongside the levadas that are eerily positioned on the side of the mountain. These unique channels were built in the 15th century to provide water to the villages below and are still in use. Our guide, Josephina, had great energy, immersing us in a forest bathing experience. She taught us about the flora, the medicinal uses of the plants and the levadas.
Left: Levada on left with perilous drop on the right; Middle: Josephina showing us the use of the ubiquitous eucalyptus; Right: a miner’s light helps through the dark and sometimes low, tunnels
Hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
The previous hikes prepared us for the most challenging hike of the trip reaching the two highest peaks on the island. We had perfect weather, ascending above the clouds where you see the waterfall effect of clouds dissipating as they flow over the mountain.
There was a cafe at the bottom of the first peak. You had the option to wait here for your group if wanting to skip climbing to the first peak to shorten the hike.
We took our time, about 5 1/2 hours, and many photos. We ended this one-way hike feeling a great sense of accomplishment and with more Poncha, of course.
Left: From Peak Ruivo, feeling like I’m on top of the world; Right: The trail is loaded with hundreds of steps, both inlaid rock and metal staircases.
Staying an extra two nights at the end of the tour provided us with more time to explore Funchal. It’s a walkable city with beautifully tiled sidewalks in old town and a ‘Gelataria’ on every block. There are many hotels along the ocean that are mid-range in cost with exceptional views and access to the sea. Our biking guide, Marco, recommended a dinner restaurant that provides a free ride service to and from your hotel. At Vila do Peixe about 15 minutes away, you select the fish that is grilled over an open fire. It was the best meal we experienced on the island. The warehouse style restaurant had ceiling-to-floor windows and a terrace with beautiful views of the sea and village below. And if you prefer meat, Vila da Carne is next door.
We truly enjoyed this magical island and highly recommend this Tripsite tour!
Thanks so much for sharing, Lori! Interested in active adventures on Madeira Island and Portugal? Check out all of our biking, hiking, and multi-activity tours in Portugal.