Beaches and Nightlife

What is the best time of the year to go to Madeira? To go to the beach. And how is the nightlife on Madeira? Where in Madeira can you do all this?


During the whole year it is a good time to go to Madeira. Only during the first months of the year I have experienced some periods with showers, wind and rain. Assuming you are looking for beaches … Madeira does not actually have a beach scene what most sunbathing beach lovers are used to. Natural sandy beaches you will not find here easily. Great deal of the natural beaches is rocky. There are however a few (new) man-made beaches, such as Calheta Beach, and the sea pool complexes in Porto Moniz and in Funchal. BUT … when you are on Madeira you can always visit its little sister-island Porto Santo … which has 8km beautiful golden sand beach. The Porto Santo ferry line Lobo Marino sails frequently between the two islands.

For nightlife the best place is the city of Funchal. There are a great deal of activity going on that tourists and people from outside the island does not know of … because it is locally advertised (thus often in Portuguese) however everybody is welcome to participate. My advice is … just to ask! When you are in Funchal … ask any Madeiran (at the restaurant, hotel, taxi driver, personnel at the shop etc.) where and when is the next nightlife activity. The trick is to ask where they would go themselves when going out. You will be surprised the options that are here.

Route Planner

The website of ViaMichelin offers a very comprehensive and highly accurate route-planning service. By giving a specific location (address, station, zip code, city or airport) for both your departure and destination, it determines your route. Additional is also offers several extra choices to improve the accuracy of your generated map. This is one of the most popular route planners online.

If you think that the Michelin’s route planner does not have an island such as Madeira in its database … then you thought wrong. I have managed to generate a few routes with the airport of Madeira Airport as the starting departure point to several destinations on the island. I must confess that you need to know the exact name of the location and that the stipulated route is not as detailed and accurate as I thought it would be …. but it gives you an idea the time and distance between the two places.

For those who arrive at the airport and have arranged a rental car for the first time here on Madeira, they can use the following driving directions to calculate and plan their route to their hotel, casa, apartment, quinta or holiday villa …. however I advise to always follow the official driving instructions you received when booking the accommodation.

Click the next lines for the ViaMichelin’s route planner from Madeira International Airport ….

To Calheta
To Porto Moniz
To Santana
To Curral das Freiras (‘Nuns Valley’)

    Disclaimer:
    The author of this blog or article can not be held responsible for anyone who uses the above links and gets lost when driving on Madeira. Nor is the author of this blog responsible for any damage or losing time or any discomfort caused by using the information from these links. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of the above shall be at your sole risk.

Ferry link to Madeira starts again

The seasonal weekly ferry service, from our neighbouring Canary Islands to our archipelago, starts again on June 16.

The Naviera Armas ferry, Volcan de Tamadaba will be leaving Santa Cruz every Saturday night at 10.30 pm over summer and docking in Funchal the following morning at 8 am.

See also our previous blog about the ferry

Gay and Lesbian scene

Portugal, and also the Madeira Archipelago, has a long history of repression and public intolerance of homosexuality. Luckily these days … the voices of repression have simmered down and can be ignored … as Madeira has become generally tolerant of homosexuality, which was decriminalized in 1982, eight years after the Carnation Revolution.

While in Lisbon, Oporto and Algarve the gay scene is increasing, in other smaller cities and regions such as Leiria, Braga and Madeira the (local) gay and lesbian activity is still very repressed and discrete, although the gay community is actually much larger than it seems. In Funchal there are no specific clubs and bars for gays and lesbians, which is uncommon for a European city with over 100,000 inhabitants.

Unfortunately, there are still some anti-gay feeling among more conservative elements in Portugal. The consistently reactionary and influential Catholic church, for example, is still light years from accepting the homosexuality as normal. Also issues like single-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples still have to be resolved, as in other countries.

Other than that … gay and lesbian are most welcome as any other visitor here on Madeira. Only do not expect to find everything here (yet).

Earthquake

No, do not be frightened! There was no earthquake here on Madeira. On the contrary of the Azores Islands … the archipelago of Madeira is very stable. Even when you consider that the whole archipelago (Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas) emerged from the sea thanks to large eruptions and volcano activities 700,000 years ago.

Below you will see an image of the seismic activity of the mainland (Portugal) and Madeira (left corner below) of the last month.

seismic activity Madeira

The next image is of the seismic activity of Açores the last month:

seismic activity Azores

For more seismologic information go to The Portuguese Meteorological Institute

Of course … this does not mean we will never have a quake …. you never know when Mother Nature will a bad day ….

Alberto Joao Jardim resigns

Alberto Joao JardimAlberto João Cardoso Gonçalves Jardim, (born Funchal, Madeira Island, February 4, 1943) president of the regional government of Madeira, resigns his office as a protest to the Portuguese government’s 2007 budget, which reduces fund for the islands.

According to Jardim the new budget would mean that he would not be able to complete projects undertaken during his 2004-2008 term. “This happens in the middle of our mandate. It’s a violation of our legitimate expectations“.

However the island is not in crisis as most people would expect when a government resigns. Since 1978 Alberto João Jardim (a Social Democrat) became successively and democratically elected for President of the Regional Government of Madeira all these years. He said he would run again in the next elections and “show the people of Madeira I am not escaping or jumping ship when times are hard.

His resignation will cause early elections of which the expectations are that he will win again and renew his leadership term till 2011. Actually you could say that this resignation is more kind of a ‘reset‘.

Madeira in short

Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that is located between 32°22.3’N 16°16.5’W and 33°7.8’N 17°16.65’W in the north Atlantic Ocean.

It is since 1976 an autonomous region of Portugal.

The largest of the group of islands is Madeira. Of the other three islands in the group, only Porto Santo is inhabited; the Desertas and Selvagens groups are too rocky and narrow for habitation.

The equable climate has made the island of Madeira a popular health resort, and the famous Madeira wine is a chief export; its capital city, Funchal, was founded in 1421.

The islands are of volcanic origin and are the summits of lofty mountains, rising in Pico Ruivo to 1861 m (6106 ft).

Although the islands were known in Roman times, they were uninhabited until the early 1400s, when they were rediscovered by the Portuguese.

Total area, 794 sq km (307 sq miles).

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