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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