31 Jan

Madeira - amazing hiking and invigorating natural pools

Madeira is one of ABTA’s top 12 destinations to visit in 2019 and a perfect destination for people who love activities such as mountain biking, hiking and windsurfing; once all those activities are ticked off, Madeira’s natural pools are a refreshing place to recharge your batteries.

This Portuguese island sits 500km  off the coast of Morocco and makes up the ‘Madeira Archipelago’ with its smaller sister islands, Porto Santo and the uninhabited islands Salvagens and Desertas. It has an amazingly fertile landscape, growing tropical flora and fauna from its mineral-rich volcanic soil and Atlantic Sea air. The climate is generally mild and gets a pleasantly warm summer so is an explorer’s and keen hiker’s dream all year round.

Eager to get started with your holiday, hike up and along the Levadas (pathways) to viewpoints overlooking the sea, a highly rewarding experience with the potential to get you a top quality Instagram photo or two! Madeira's Levadas take you through the beautiful landscape; you’ll see rare flowers such as Protea, Strelitzia and Flame of the Forest. When you reach the top of the Levada you’ll access viewing points such as Balcões where you’ll be able to see right across the island and all the way down to the edge of sea. 


Since Madeira is essentially on top of an extinct volcano, it doesn’t have large beaches. Around the edges, you’ll find Madeira’s refreshing natural rock pools or lidos - a good spot if you’ve exhausted your muscles hiking the Levadas. The pools are filled with crystal clear sea water which are fed by waves splashing in from the Atlantic Ocean. The pools can be chilly, but in the warmer months, the sun warms their shallow depths.

Porto Moniz on the North Coast of Madeira is the largest set of natural pools with a surface area of 3800 m². It also has a children’s swimming pool, a play area and disabled access. The natural pools are similar to infinity pools and much more relaxing than swimming in the sea.

After a swim, visit the excellent local restaurants where you’ll be served the freshest of seafood. Try the speciality scabbard fish with banana. Or you could try a Nikita, in effect an alcoholic milkshake or Poncha, a rum punch which the locals drink for every occasion.

There are other natural pools around Madeira including the Lido pools of Poças do Gomes, Doca do Cavacas beach complex in Funchal as well as the Caniçal Bathing Complex on the East Coast.  Most of the pools have direct access to the sea as well as sunbathing areas, toilets, changing rooms, lockers, bar areas, lifeguards and sun loungers.

But if you’re looking for a sandy beach, you can pop across to the sister island Porto Santo which is just a short ferry ride away. The sand on Porto Santo’s beach is believed to have healing properties as the mineral content help with rheumatism and other bone complaints. So once you’ve finished hiking on wonderful Madeira, you should keep your last day free to visit Porto Santo for some well-deserved relaxation and healing.

To make the most of your trip, get in touch with an expert travel agent; they’ll be able to find you a hotel in Madeira close to one of these amazing natural pools and a guided walking tour along the Levadas.

Find out more about Madeira in ABTA’s Travel Trends report 2019: abta.com/traveltrends2019