Madeira Islands: A Yachting Paradise Among Volcanic Splendor
Madeira Islands, part of the Macaronesia group, are an idyllic yachting destination. This volcanic archipelago, situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles off the west coast of Africa and north of the Canary Islands, is an autonomous region of Portugal. The archipelago comprises the main island of Madeira, home to the regional capital, Funchal, as well as Porto Santo Island, three uninhabited islands known as the Desertas, and several smaller islets. The Savage Islands (Ilhas Selvagens) are also part of this autonomy.
Discovered by Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco in the early 15th century, Madeira initially greeted settlers with impenetrable subtropical forests. The name ‘Madeira’ means ‘wood’ in Portuguese, reflecting the abundant timber. Initially, settlers cleared paths by cutting trees but ultimately decided to burn them, making way for agricultural lands. The ash, combined with the volcanic soil, proved to be highly fertile, ideal for cultivating sugar cane and other exotic crops. To irrigate their plantations, colonists constructed a network of irrigation channels called levadas, descending from the mountains.
The Madeira Islands offer a mountainous landscape with a pleasant subtropical climate. The Gulf Stream ensures mild weather conditions year-round, with air temperatures ranging from 16°C (60.8°F) to 25°C (77°F) and water temperatures averaging 23°C (73.4°F) in summer and 20°C (68°F) in winter, occasionally dropping to 17°C (62.6°F).
For yachting enthusiasts, Madeira’s volcanic origins create an unparalleled sailing experience. While there are no active volcanoes, the islands boast beaches with volcanic sand, lakes formed in ancient craters, and intriguing lava tubes. The remnants of Monteverde forests in the south and the lush forests on Madeira’s northern slopes are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Madeira is also renowned for its fortified wine and spectacular New Year’s fireworks, which have even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The main access point to the archipelago is Madeira International Airport, one of the largest in Europe. Formerly known as Funchal or Santa Catarina Airport, it was renamed Cristiano Ronaldo Airport in 2016.
Please note that a Schengen visa is required to visit Madeira.
Set sail in the enchanting waters of the Madeira Islands and revel in the archipelago’s rich history, verdant landscapes, and volcanic wonders, making it a sailing adventure that transcends the ordinary.
The Madeira Islands are part of Macaronesia.
Macaronesia comprises islands belonging to three countries – Spain, Portugal, and Cape Verde.
These islands have a volcanic origin and are grouped into five main archipelagos.