Madeira is an amazing spot to meet wildlife and a great hiking destination. It’s heaven – but a bit chilly with the Atlantic Ocean breeze, so bring some woolies. I’ve listed some of my kids’ favourite memories of this trip — in order to recreate the same feel at home.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

Experiencing animals in their natural habitat is unforgettable, but sometimes we need a little more than the local pigeon population. Instead, get your heart pumping with these fantastic beasts. My children were amazed to see dolphins and their babies swim by our boat in the clear waters that bathe Madeira island. They even got to snorkel in the water surrounded by this beautiful creatures.

My children were amazed at the sight of whales. Breath taking. Awesome.

Madeira island walk

It’s never too late to be crazy : how about challenging yourself to climb a mountain? The physical and mental benefits will leave you feeling on top of the world (literally).

Hiking in Madeira is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the island. And your kids will love the adventure too. We followed the course of the levadas (irrigation channels) together with a guide. The walk was perfect and we viewed so many fantastic natural sights. Just don’t look down.

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Jeep tour around the island

We went off-road in a jeep and to discover the beauty of Madeira. Just remember, Madeira is one big rock maintain emerging from the sea. It’s all uphill, or one big roll all the way down to the ocean. The locals have a very assertive driving style. If you’re the nervous type, you won’t enjoy it much. Your kids will though.

Cable cars and flower garden

To get a taste of the local folklore, take the cable cars up to the botanical garden. Fantastic view. Splendid array of flowers. If you expect the whole island to be covered in flowers, you’re wrong.

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When looking back at this great holiday with my wonderful children, I still wonder how the children of Madeira don’t fall off the flat roofs of their houses. The slope is staggering. And it continues like that over the entire island. There’s no beach either. Just this rock emerging out of the ocean. Mind blowing.

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— Funchal, Madeira (July 2014)

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