Madeira family holiday
Description of Madeira family holiday
Madeira, the Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic just off the coast of Africa, is your destination for a memorable family holiday packed with exciting activities. You’ll be based in a hotel in Funchal, within easy walking distance of the capital’s restaurants, shops and attractions, but the real fun starts once you head off the beaten track and into the surrounding scenery.
Let’s start with a jeep journey through mountainous terrain followed by a walk along a levada. Later on in the week will be a day that kids will remember for years to come – a sea kayaking trip around the island’s picturesque coves and bays. After a few hours of paddling, you’ll board a RIB boat for a bouncy ride through the Atlantic waves in search of whales, guided by a marine biologist – these waters are rich in wildlife, and fin, bryde and pilot whales are all frequently seen. Pods of dolphins will sometimes follow the boats out, and if the conditions are right, snorkels will be provided so you can take a dip with these friendly, curious creatures in their natural habitat.
Levadas are Madeira’s most distinctive features – irrigation canals built to bring water down from the mountains. They traverse some of the most beautiful terrain, and you’ll take a short hike along one of them, midway through an exciting full-day jeep excursion. Later in the trip you’ll follow another levada, this time on mountain bikes!
Midway through the trip an activity that many parents get nervous about, but everyone ends up feeling is the highlight of their holiday – canyoning! With the help of skilled instructors, you’ll spend a day sliding over rocks, rappelling waterfalls and leaping into pools of water – it’s incredible fun and you can relax the following day with a soak in the saltwater lava pools on a volcanic beach in Seixal.
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PlanetMadeira’s natural environment is, in our opinion, its greatest asset. While the local authorities are very keen to promote it to a wider audience, they are also very conscious of the need to do so responsibly.
Local tourism businesses (our partners) are particularly focused on this area and nowhere more so than in the interaction with the local wildlife. An undoubted highlight of this trip is the chance to snorkel with dolphins but this is done on the animals’ terms, not ours. There is no enclosed water park here, the activity takes place in the open Atlantic waters and, if the dolphins want to swim with us then they will. If they don’t, then they will simply swim off and we will respect their choice by not chasing them.
The holidays are run in small groups to minimise the environmental impact – tours are taken in jeeps rather than large coaches for example and our partners operate a leave-no-trace working policy with the aim of preserving the integrity of this stunning island for future generations of visitors.
On this holiday there is the option to stay in one of two hotels, both owned and run by a local family business. Both have been carefully selected and checked to ensure they meet our responsible tourism requirements. Recently carefully restored and renovated in a style sympathetic to the surroundings and genre of the local area, they offer a real taste of the local traditional atmosphere. The original hotel building sits on a cliff, built around an old restored manor house, and is surrounded by a subtropical garden where visitors can enjoy the huge variety of local flora and fauna. The second building is located on the shoreline and offers direct access to the sea via a swimming platform. The hotels are not large – they maintain an intimate feel that the lager purpose-built tourist hotels can often lack. Furthermore, the swimming pools are filled with salt water rather than chlorine.
PeopleIn recent years, the powers-that-be on Madeira and, by association, the tourist board have sought to shrug off the island’s long-standing image as a retreat for the elderly. Their aim is to now promote the diversity of active and adventurous possibilities afforded by Madeira.
The thinking behind this strategy is that diversifying the island’s appeal will create greater employment and earning potential across broader geographical and demographic spectrums. This holiday has been designed with the diversification strategy very much in mind. Rather than concentrating solely on Funchal, the capital, this trip explores the island visiting small villages and engaging with local people and local suppliers. During the activities provided on the trip, we use local activity providers and their own guides and instructors.
Essentially, the economic benefits of the holiday are far more widely spread. Yes, it is based in a Funchal hotel but we have ensured that the accommodation is owned by a local family and, via the Tourism Multiplier, the trip is contributing to jobs and income in both the capital and further afield.
The hotels employ local people and the hotel’s restaurant and its adjacent bar are popular with Funchal’s residents - it is the perfect place to meet the locals! A short walk will find guests in the centre of Funchal and although we do include some meals on our trip (lunches are provided during the activities by the local activity provider) we only include two dinners; we positively encourage our clients to try the local restaurants, cafés and attractions – guaranteeing that the local businesses and economy benefit directly from the tours.
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