Action stations on Madeira

Have you thought about taking a trip to Madeira? You might be surprised just how good tis island is. Here we take a look at just what Madeira has to offer the tourist.

Among Madeira’s charms, the warm blue waters of the surrounding Atlantic must surely rank high, especially for lovers of water sports.

The surfing is at its best on Madeira’s rugged north coast, while windsurfing, snorkelling, parasailing. kayaking and water skiing can be found all around the island. Fans of sailing should check out the new 300-mooring harbour and yacht club at Calheta.

Whilst Madeira may not have the sandy beaches of its sister island, Porto Santo, the sea temperature is perfect for swimming. Under the island’s latest Tourism Management Plan, points of access to the sea are being improved all over the island, creating sea water pools, walkways and leisure areas.

Scuba divers can take to the water direct from the shore and are guaranteed to encounter a good variety of sea life. A number of dive operators on the island cater for all levels of experience and the Crowne Plaza is just one hotel with its own dive school. Further out to sea, game fishing and dolphin watching are popular.

On land, Madeira is known and loved by walkers for its system of levadas – a 1,500km network of irrigation channels with paths running alongside that make walking the island’s top pursuit.

A year-round attraction, visitors have been known to come to Madeira for two weeks and spend them both walking. Paths pass through tunnels and across mountain peaks, through shady forests and along breathtaking sea cliffs.

Among other activities there is horse-riding and mountain biking, hang gliding and paragliding, jeep safari’s, mountaineering and canyoning – which explains why the World Triathlon Championships were held in in May 2004.

Golfers are well catered for, with two top courses to choose from. One is at Palheiro, overlooking Funchal, the other high above the sea at Santo de Serra. Porto Santo’s first course designed by Severiano Ballesteros, was opened in October 2004.

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Focus on Funchal – Capital of Madeira

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TV Presenter finds bliss on the Cape Verde Islands

 When the TV and Radio presenter, Becky Hayes, wanted a cheap holiday she never imagined that she would end up in the Cape Verde Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. When she arrived on the islands she was amazed at how unspoilt they were and she can’t wait to go back. This is her account of her holiday on the Cape Verde Islands written for Global Holidays.

Just off the western cost of Africa is where you’ll find these little gems. The name alone sounds exotic and you’re not wrong.  If white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and relaxation is your thing then the Cape Verde Islands are for you. With an African, Portuguese flair you are in for a truly alluring experience.

“No stress” is the motto here and you’ll be sure to hear the locals saying it as they try to sell you trinkets and hand carved gifts. The locals are friendly but can be persistent when trying to get you to buy things.

I like to think of the Cape Verde islands as the Caribbean of the Atlantic Ocean. They have a really exotic feel and I don’t know anywhere else that you can fly to in 6 hours and be able to see your feet in the sea!

There are 10 islands in total, Sal being the biggest and the capital. Whilst there you must check out Santa Maria, the main town. Life centres around the beach and pier, where every day at 11am the local fishermen bring in the catch’s of the day. Expect to see giant tuna, marlin and maybe even the odd shark. The pier becomes a hive of activity with boats, fisherman and sellers.

You can also do trips to the other islands. Boa Vista is worth seeing if you are into history. On the Praai de Santa Maria beach stands the shipwreck of the Santa Maria which ran aground there in 1968. It has a very eerie feel but if you’re not put off by shipwrecks maybe you could try a dive to explore it further. In total there are more than 70 shipwrecks in the waters around the Cape Verde Islands.

The islands are still pretty un- commercialised. There aren’t that many hotels and the shops are pretty basic. You can’t even get a decent phone signal here! If you like lively nightlife and neon lights then these islands are not for you. Be prepared to totally get away from it all. There is building work happening there now to build a shopping centre and a promenade. I’d recommend going now to see its natural charm that has barely been touched by the western world.

In winter months you can expect a good 6 hours of sunbathing sunshine a day. The evenings stay warm too. Flying time to The Cape Verde Islands is 6 hours.

I loved Cape Verde and will definitely be returning. It was great to go somewhere that not a lot of people have been to and great to see somewhere virtually untouched by commercialism. It’s a place to stay horizontal all day with a good book and if you’re feeling particularly adventuress perhaps do the odd fishing trip!

Call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300 to enquire about a holiday to the Cape Verde Islands

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A holiday on Madeira

Focus on Funchal – Capital of Madeira

Magical Madeira is one of the fewEuropean destinations that can offer the visitor a beach, mountains and a city holiday all wrapped into one.

The capital of Madeira is Funchal and the city lies on the Bay of Funchal and has a long and fascinating history. You can easily spend several days in Funchal and, in fact the city makes a great holiday destination in itself. Many cruise ships stop in Funchal as the fascinating old town with winding cobbled streets has much to offer the visitor.

You can take the cable car from Funchal old town to Monte village and there is an abundance of shops, bars and restuarants as well as some luxury hotels. Funchal has an upmarket feel to it and the palm tree lined Lido area is a popular meeting place. Many of the restaurants in Funchal offer high quaility sea food and you can stroll in the evening along the Lido which leads to the pebbled Praia Formosa beach.Funchal has a proud past and is divided into three historic quarters. Among the many historic treasures in Funchal are the amazing Se Cathedral, the House-Museum Frederico de Freitas and the Santa Maria Maior Mother Church.

Eating out in Funchal

You won’t go hungry in Funchal, especially if you like seafood. Espada is a local speciality as well as tuna and swordfish. You can dine in well established restaurants whilst in Funchal’s old town or in the cosmopolitan area near the marina, although some of the restaurants near the marina can be a little more expensive than elsewhere. You can also join the locals and sample fresh Madeira dishes at reasonable prices in small restaurants tucked away in Funchal’s side streets.

What to do in Funchal

Funchal’s Botanical Gardens are an amazing selction of colour with more than 2,000 plants. You can also take the 14 minute cable car ride from the Botanical Gardens to the mountains and cliff tops with fantstaic views over the Atlantic Ocean.Also, you can take the city’s other cable car route from the old town which rises 560 metres and travels on a 3718 metre-long trip.Madeira is known as the floating garden in the Atlantic and is well known for its walks along pretty paths in the moutains around Funchal.

Sledge riding in Funchal, Madeira is a traditional tourist attraction for tourists but it is not for the faint hearted !If you are wanting a holiday destination with a little bit of everything then a holiday to Madeira might just be the right destination for you.

Call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300 for a holiday to Madeira.

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