Latest Posts

Dolphin & whale watching by luxury catamaran in Funchal

 

Dolphin & whale watching by luxury catamaran in Funchal | VIP DOLPHINS

There is a NEW luxury experience in Funchal! It’s organised by the company VIP DOLPHINS and the goal is to go dolphin & whale watching aboard the Ultimate – a luxury catamaran, all-inclusive.

Last month, I had the opportunity to experience it myself 🙂

-How was the experience?

It was great! We saw lots of dolphins, two sperm whales and two turtles.


 

What’s more, this catamaran is so stylish!

– How long is the trip on the VIP DOLPHINS luxury catamaran?

The Dolphin & Whale Watching trip takes about 3 hours. The meeting point is in the new marina, near the Praça do Povo, in front of the “OceanSee” kiosk, but you should attend 15 minutes before departure. The usual route goes to Cabo Girão, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe and returns to Funchal.

Meeting Point

Cabo Girão

– Can you always spot dolphins on the VIP DOLPHINS luxury catamaran?

Apparently we can see them in 98% of the trips, but in any case, they offer a second free trip if that does not happen. If the weather does not allow the trip, they contact the customer to issue a refund or reschedule.

– How many people were aboard the VIP DOLPHINS luxury catamaran

We were just a few, since it is only for restricted groups, a maximum of 17 people (besides the staff) – that makes the whole experience much more pleasant, plus there is more visibility.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by their certified marine biologists. They are involved in research programs such as Cetus Project, plus they also report to Madeira’s Natural Parque. One of the Marine Biologists is also making her own research on the impact that boat motors might have on dolphins behaviours.

Along the trip they talked to each of us to explain some natural behaviours and curiosities about the species of dolphins and whales that we can find in Madeira. Maria, Dominique, Ruben and Pedro were very friendly and attentive, always available for any request. They also take some photos if we wish, which they send later by email, for FREE.

(Wi-fi is also FREE onboard)

 

– Are drinks or snacks paid?

There’s an open bar for free during the whole trip, whether you prefer alcoholic drinks or not. I was greeted with a glass of champagne and they also serve typical snacks like caco bread, “pastéis de nata”, cookies and ice creams for free.

 

 

 

Cute 🙂

– What dolphins and whales do you see aboard the VIP DOLPHINS luxury catamaran?

I was on the flybridge when we started to spot some bottlenose dolphins. As we approached, we saw jumps and pirouettes, it was incredible !! We also saw two whales, they were sperm whales. I was impressed with the size of their heads, what a beauty! We also saw two sea turtles, passing by.

-Can you swim?

Yes, plus snorkelling equipment is available for free. You can also take a shower onboard afterwards if you wish since the bathrooms are well equipped. Flip flops are available if you need – another nice detail of VIP Dolphins.

– How is it different from other catamaran tours you’ve done?

The experience has a different concept, more exclusive. We get the feeling of being on a friend’s yacht, listening to chill out music, in between conversation, relaxing, eating and drinking.

In addition, the luxury catamaran has different areas where you can circulate, both inside and outside, with sofas, tables and comfortable puffs. It also has 4 bedrooms, if you want to rent it for a full day (to go to Porto Santo for example) or to spend a day at the sea with a group of friends. (Check here the prices.)

 

 

Every Dolphin and Whale watching tour is a surprise, no two experiences are the same. Watching dolphins, whales or sea turtles in the ocean is always special, but in that luxurious ambience it’s even better, more relaxing – we can see everything without stress.

After an afternoon in the middle of the ocean, with a privileged view over Funchal, I felt peace and gratitude.

Thank you to VIP Dolphins for giving me this opportunity to go dolphin and whale watching in Madeira.


– Useful information

Cost*

Adults – € 75, Children: from 2 to 5 years old – Free, Children: from 6 to 15 years old – € 40

*Book here and use the code “madeiratomars” to get a 20% discount ! 🙂

It includes snacks and drinks, champagne on board, Wi-fi, photo report and snorkelling equipment.

Schedules*

Every day from April 1 to October 31 *:

9h-12h | 13h-16h | 4:15 PM-7: 15PM

From Monday to Saturday, from November 1 to March 31 *:

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 1:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Reservations*

Tel: +351 924 438 001 | E-mail: oceanopioneiro@gmail.com |Website: https://vipdolphins.com

*Book here and use the code “madeiratomars” to get a 20% discount !! 🙂

*Information in June 2019


Disclaimer: This article has been supported by VIP DOLPHINS, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Porto Santo

3 days in Porto Santo Island | Family-Friendly Itinerary Tips

3 days in Porto Santo Island | Family-Friendly Itinerary Tips

At Easter, we went to Porto Santo Island for a few days. Any place that takes us away from screens and gets us outdoor is on our wishlist. Porto Santo Island suited our needs perfectly.





Porto Santo is a paradisiac destination. It has a pure and beautiful landscape, easy to fall in love with, the minute you lay your feet on the sand. It’ s so soft and golden, plus the sea colours are so vivid, with a thousand shades of blue, almost hypnotizing. It’s a peaceful destination, perfect for families that are looking to relax by the beach, play golf, dive, go trekking, soak up the local lifestyle or all of the above.

How to visit Porto Santo Island?

By boat from Madeira or by plane.

At the moment there were direct flights to Porto Santo Island from Madeira, Lisbon, Milan and Copenhagen.

How is the weather in Porto Santo Island?

It’s usually mild, with average temperatures of 18, 5ºC, however it can be tricky and you can get a bit of rain or clouds in between, the most perfect sunny days. We were very lucky in April and got 3 full days of sunshine.

 

3 days in Porto Santo Island | Family-Friendly Itinerary Tips


Day 1 ⇒ The boat departed from Funchal at 8 a.m and arrived around 10:20 a.m at Porto Santo Island. We walked to the city centre and checked-in at the hotel – it took us about 35 minutes walking to reach the Hotel Praia Dourada. The Hotel is simple but quite nice. It’s centrally located (no car needed). The staff is very friendly, breakfast is included with plenty of fresh fruit and it has a solarium with swimming pool. Highlights: On the day of your check-out, you can take a shower at the hotel before catching the boat. 

We went straight to the beach and had some drinks and lunch by the sea. Love the “gaiado de escabeche” (pickled Skipjack) as well as the octopus and tuna.

 

We then went back to the hotel to take a nap/ enjoy the pool and read books in the loungers. There’s also a ping-pong table that kept the kids entertained. We finished the afternoon with the typical Porto Santo ice-cream – “Lambeca”.

In the evening we went for a walk to the pier and had dinner in the nearby pizzeria. It was a beautiful full moon evening.


Day 2 ⇒After breakfast, we decided to explore the local arts and crafts market, just in front of the church, where I found this beautiful postcard from Loja do Profeta, with the iconic elements of Porto Santo. Loved it!

We then rented some bicycles (nearby Hotel Torre Praia) to explore a bit of the island. Prices start at 3€ per hour/per bicycle but of course, it’s cheaper if you rent it for the day. We went all the way to Calheta and back to Aparthotel Luamar, there’s a shop on the other side of the street where you can drop off the bicycles (we only rented for one hour, so just on time to drop off). We spent the morning on the beach, enjoying the soft warm sand, the waves and the sunshine.

 

For lunch, we had the famous prego and Picado at João do Cabeço. 

We spent the afternoon at the beach. We took a long walk back to the hotel, admiring the landscape in between conversations.

 

When we got hungry we stopped at by a beach bar for some prawns and bolo do caco and then continued our walk back to the hotel. For dinner we went to O Forno, famous for its chicken!


Day 3 ⇒We decided to go hiking in the mountains. We started off the morning with a walk to Capela da Graça (1,8 km about 25 minutes walk) where the PR3 trail begins.

 

The PR3 trail has 2 options one to Camacha and the other one to Ribeiro Formoso, we took the shorter option 2,9 km to Camacha.

The walk is easy to follow, and the views are outstanding. There are parts where you walk about beautiful cactus and others with wide open views over the beach. 

We all loved the walk, especially because it offers different perspectives, all unique. Pico Castelo, Capela da Graça and beautiful trees and flowers. We also saw some snails and lizards.

It took us about one hour to complete this walk from Capela da Graça to Camacha.

We finished at this local bar where we called a taxi to take us back to Calheta, where we went swimming and had lunch. Calheta has the most beautiful rock formations and the children were very entertained exploring the area. 

 

Lunch was delicious and then I walked all the way back to the hotel with my oldest son. On the way, we were able to see the baby monk seal that has been recently on the news! Apparently, she comes to rest on the beach during the day and goes food hunting during the night. There is a big security area with some nature guards looking after her and making sure that she was not disturbed. Oh, what a gift to be able to take a close look at this beautiful creature. I hope she keeps growing bigger and stronger!!

Time to go home…showers and bags all packed just in time for one last ice cream! We took the local bus to the pier and enjoyed the island views back home.


Beautiful sunset and rejuvenated spirits to go back to school after the Easter break.

Thank you, Porto Santo!♥

Luxury houses and apartments in Madeira – Madeira Legacy

Luxury houses and apartments in Madeira – Madeira Legacy

The island of Madeira is a long-lasting passion for many visitors. The mild climate, the sunshine hours per year, the lifestyle and the proximity to the European continent and the sea are just some of the many reasons that make Madeira an ideal choice. Some visitors even end up buying houses or apartments in Madeira, whether to go on vacation, to enjoy retirement or to live permanently.

In this article, we talked to Madeira Legacy, to find some dream homes and apartments in Madeira, and get useful tips on how to buy a property on the island.

1. Who is Madeira Legacy and what sets it apart from other real estate companies?

Madeira Legacy is a real estate company headquartered in Funchal, with 13 years of experience in the market, directed to real estate of quality and luxury.

What sets us apart is customer support – our team of professionals focuses daily on following up and meeting the needs of those who contact us. We want to help our customers make dreams come true, that is our goal.

2. What are the basic requirements to buy a house/apartment in Madeira?

Firstly contact Madeira Legacy 🙂

The basic requirements are, above all, to have the will and financial conditions to acquire a property on this wonderful island. Then, you just have to follow all the steps in our guide.

3. How does the process of buying a house/apartment in Madeira Legacy work?

After the first contact, we present/visit several properties, according to the client’s wish list. Our list of properties is vast and diverse in terms of prices, typology and location, and always based on quality.

When the customer finds the property you are looking for, it is very simple – we move on to the next phase:

-Contract promise of buying and selling (if requested bank credit for the purchase)

-Deed of purchase

4. What are the most sought after areas in Madeira?

Funchal is one of the most sought after areas in Madeira, without a doubt. We have real estate in more traditional areas such as historical areas, as well as in areas that are a trend, as is the case of Lido and Ajuda.

5. What kind of assistance or support do you offer to your clients – is it possible to buy a house/apartment in Madeira from a distance?

Yes, it is possible and we give all the necessary support. Madeira Legacy does all the mediation of real estate (purchase, sale and trespass). We also deal in the leasing/administration of the real estate, and we do the necessary remodelling and decorations. This service has already been provided to many investors, both local and foreign, and the feedback was very positive. We have a wide range of partnerships in the areas of legal, accounting, decoration, engineering and architecture. We give a complete follow-up to the client, namely to the non-habitual resident, in the patrimonial evaluation, translation of the documents, access to the Golden Visa, recuperation and decoration of the property.

This is a job that gives us enormous pleasure and our focus is always on meeting the particular needs of each client.

 

6. How can customers get in touch with Madeira Legacy?

Through our website, email (sandra@madeira-legacy.com), mobile phone (+351 937 777 700), social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), or through our partners, who advertise our properties.

Our office is located in the centre of Funchal, right next to Rotunda do Infante, in the following address: Avenida Arriaga, 50 Diogos II Building – 1st Floor, Rooms 5 and 6 9000-064 – Funchal.

Contact us and put us to the test;)

Thanks Madeira Legacy, best wishes.


Disclaimer: This article was supported by Madeira Legacy.

3 Carnival Parties in Madeira

3 Carnival Parties in Madeira

 

So it’s that crazy time of the year again and Madeira Island is ready to party.

Here are my 3 favourite carnival parties in Madeira:

 





Friday

Travesties Night

From snowhite and the seven dwarfs to a football team of ladies dressed as CR7, one thing is certain – creativity knows no limits. So dress up as you wish, have fun and enjoy the nightlife.

Where is this party?

In most of the discos and pubs in Funchal. If you go for a late walk in the old town and you’ll certainly bump into interesting costumes.


Saturday –

Carnival Float Parade


 

About 1900 people dance on streets with colourful costumes, samba moves and loud music. Sing and dance along and fun is garanteeed! (Of course you can bring your own outfit as well!).

The Carnival Float Parade begins at 8 p.m.

Where is the Funchal Carnival Float Parade?

Starts nearby CR7 statue, goes all the way through Avenida do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses to finish near the Autonomy statue.


Monday

Batucada in Câmara de Lobos

At 9 p.m. there’s a parade in Câmara de Lobos central streets and afterwards around 11:30 pm some elements of the groups gather to play drums and dance on the stage. It’s very exciting and fun to watch them perform, don’t miss it!

Where is the batucada in Câmara de Lobos?

Nearby Câmara de Lobos harbour, in Rua Nossa Senhora da Conceição.

I leave you with my favourite carnival tunes.

Happy Carnival!


Looking for things to do in Madeira? Find it here:

Don’t forget to taste “Sonhos” – the typical Carnival dessert  in Madeira.

Have fun!

Travel tips to visit Madeira



Free Travel tips To Madeira

Great places to eat, see and enjoy - travel guide to Madeira, tips from a local!

(I did this guide once for one of my Airbnb guests that came to Madeira for the first time. They wanted some good recommendations for hiking locations, spots by the sea, must see’s, must eat and must do’s on the Island. Also some tips for Funchal. This choice was based on my personal preferences and on the feedback I get from my Airbnb guests. I’ve decided to share it on the blog so that you can use it, save it and share it, as an extra help in planning your stay. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful. )

Obs: there are no pictures so that you can print it without running out of ink on your printer 🙂 But please do check my Instagram account frommadeiratomars for inspiration.

If you’re coming to Funchal, you should allow yourself at least three nights stay. There’s so much to see, taste and enjoy, you’ll leave with the will to come back for more, or at least I hope you do, with my tips :). If you want to explore the full Island, then come for at least six nights and make the most of your time. I usually recommend that you rent a car unless you don’t enjoy driving. In that case, you can book tours, explore by bus or make arrangements with a private taxi.

From the airport to Funchal, unless you rent a car, do book a taxi previously, or take the Aerobus – it’s usually the cheaper options.

But before we start, there are three things you should know about Madeira:

  • First, we love tourists, and we’re used to having their company all year, so most people speak a foreign language, mostly English.
  • Second, check the weather. It could be a sunny day in Funchal and rain in the West part of the Island. We are a tropical Island, and we can reach 500 mt above sea level in 30′ drive which means it can get cold up there, and although we’re very close to Africa, we can have all seasons in one day. ” Carry a jacket, just in case. Also, check the weather at this site which displays live webcams from different parts of the island. Also if the weather is not okay for some reason, check this post for rainy days inspiration.
  • Third, be prepared to relax. Whether it’s the climate, the sea, the friendly people, the food, the wine or the natural beauty, you’ll figure it out. Don’t pack too many attractions in one day, and please don’t go all around the Island in one day. The roads are full of curves; you ‘ll get car sickness! I´ll try to be more convincing by telling you a secret, I live here for over 30 years, and there are places I’ve never been, so keep this in your mind while planning your stay; just because it’s an Island doesn’t mean you have to see it all on one visit.

WHAT TO EAT/DRINK



Remember these words or print them. 🙂

“Bolo do caco” typical bread with garlic butter, “Brisa Maracuja”passion fruit, local fizzy drink, “Coral”, local beer, “poncha” is strong but deliciously sweet rum drink, (try the flavour passion fruit).

Tomato soup with poached egg,  “milho frito”, fried corn in little cubes, “lapas”, limpets.

“Bolo e broas de mel”, honey cake and biscuits, “rebucados de funcho” fennel sweets and “queijada”, cottage cheese cake, they sell in coffee shops (I like the one from La vie shopping, top floor near the piano, btw the pasteis de nata are very good too).

If you’re not vegetarian, you can also try “espetada” beef cubes on a stick, “peixe espada”scabbard fish, and “bife de atum” tuna steak.

And of course, the unforgettable Madeira wine,  have a visit to the wine cellars for a tasting session, check this article for inspiration. If you go to Câmara de Lobos area, try the Nikita at Farol Verde (ice cream with beer, I know it’s weird, but it tastes good and guess what it’s based on the Elton John song…”Nikita”… you’ll never know…)

And the cocktails at PUKIKI BAR in Estreito da Calheta are also damn good.!

You can also read this article about the six most typical dishes.

Restaurants in Funchal? Here are some of my favorites.

LUNCH: 9,50 € -12 € deals – Café Museu, Latada do Doutor, Il Vivaldi etc

DINNER: Fine Dining in Madeira – read this article. Another good option is NINI DESIGN CENTRE/RISO for outstanding views/romantic night. In Lido: Basilico for Italian.

TYPICAL Madeiran Food – O TASCO, TABERNA MADEIRA, A BICA, OS COMBATENTES.

VEGETARIAN food – read this article.

BUDGET bites to eat,  check this list.

HIKING:



Oh, this is an endless journey to write about…

There are 2000 km of Levada walks (you know, those awesome water channels dig on the rocks ages ago) They will take you to an amazing forest called Laurissilva which is rare in the world because it disappeared in Europe during the ice age. Madeira has it. It’s green, magical, mystic and full of fresh air, century old trees and pure nature, nothing quite like this elsewhere in the world.

My favourites are Fanal/Rabaçal (25fontes)/Ponta de São Lourenço – chech miradouro PONTA DO ROSTRO! /Pico do Areeiro/Pico Ruivo/ Caldeirão Verde/Castelejo/Portela/Ribeiro Frio/ Balcões + For food try FAÍSCA .

Be careful while doing these walks, the weather can change dramatically, so I recommend this site for more information.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO?



Hidden gems in Funchal.

Best spots in Madeira.

Like Museums.

Prefer Gardens.

Beach lovers.  I LOVE Praia Formosa in Funchal, especially by sunset/sunrise when there’s hardly anyone at the beach. You can walk along promenade do Lido all the way to Câmara de Lobos.

Just to feel like a local.

Are you traveling with children? Check this article and this map for points of interest.

Need a therapeutic retreat.

A day in Funchal: Start at the city park Santa Catarina, walk along Avenida Arriaga, see the Theatre and Visit the Cathedral, the Town Hall, and the Farmers Market.  Walk into the old town and enjoy the painted doors by local artists check out the gallery Caravel art center. Reach Socorro Church and have a break at Barreirinha.  Take the cable car to Monte, and enjoy the ride up the hills. There are a beautiful Monte church and tropical garden to visit there. When you come down you have two options back on the cable car again or on the toboggan rides, wicker cars pushed by man “carreiros”, a classic. From the stop point at Livramento you can walk all the way down to Funchal, it’s about 30 minutes walk. Check the Praça do Mar with all the CR7 buzz and have an ice cream at one of the cafes or a pizza at CR7 hotel, they’re kind of good.  At night the old town is the busiest spot.

CHECK OUT THE NEW MAP USE-IT plus the app for the phone is pretty good too. (no wifi required).

FAV SPOTS BY THE SEA:



Northwest Coast: Sao Vicente (with its lava caves),  via Serra d’agua/Encumeada, and Seixal ( the mini eco bar is a nice spot there to relax) and Porto Moniz and its beautiful natural lava pools. To eat, try the limpets rice at Seixal or the romaria soup at Porto Moniz.

Southwest Coast: Camara de Lobos(beautiful fisherman town) Restaurants there? I do like Vila do Peixe, Ponta do Sol – Restaurants there? I like the Old Pharmacy, Jardim do Mar (for food try Joe’s bar or the grilled squid at Portinho), and Paul do Mar – Maktub (for sunset and mojitos), are some of my favorite locations. Calheta – the marina has a nice Italian restaurant and ice cream parlor. Mudas art museum is a must visit if you love architecture.

Northeast Coast – Take the cable car to the nature reserve Rocha do Navio in Santana – magic spot. Food? Try Quinta do Furão, Cantinho da Serra or Casa de Palha.

South East Coast: Machico (an artificial golden sand beach, this is a town located in the biggest valley of  Madeira) See the art door around the center, far less crowded than Funchal and has some very cool art scenes). Porto da Cruz (Food: A PIPA, check the sugar cane factory next door)  and Caniçal (see the new bar in town – Ritual do Sal – Praia da Ribeira do Natal) Restaurants? Tasquinha do Pescador e Amarelo are some of my favorites.

SHOPPING



Madeira has three main Shopping Malls, 2 of them with a cinema (movies are mostly shown in the original language), many international brands are there. If you’re looking for souvenirs here are my tips: For wine, I would advise buying it at the airport, because of the liquid carrying restrictions in airplanes. Although you have much more options in the wine cellars, just make sure you can carry it on the airplane. For food and souvenirs there are shops with Portuguese brands, here are some stores – read this.

NIGHTLIFE



My favorite spots are Barreirinha Bar Café, Revolution Bar, Copacabana Garden, hole in one (typical Irish bar) and Vintage bar in the old town. As for discos: Marginal, jam and Vespas for a late night dancing.

DTOX & LIVING ROOM start late around midnight/1 am.

So many choices so little time, leave something for next time and come back again 🙂

Have a lovely Holiday! 

P.S. If you’re a beach lover, please include a day trip or a night stays in Porto Santo Island, in one word: Paradise! Check this article on things to do and places to stay in Porto Santo.

(In Madeira Island, you’ll find pebbles “calhau” beaches or black sand which is beautiful, unique and typical of its volcanic origin. It might not be very comfortable to reach water (wearing neoprene shoes might be a good solution) that’s why in most beaches, there are piers with ladders to the sea. However there are a few of beaches with sand in Madeira which I really like such as Porto do Seixal beach, Banda d’Além Beach and Prainha.)

You can always reach me on Facebook or Instagram, feel free to ask for tips. Have fun. 🙂



Send me your tips for the next article – what did you like and dislike?

Please leave a comment below.

Obrigada! ( that’s what you say if you’re a girl if you’re a boy you say Obrigado).

PS- Cover images from the photographer @Benjamin_artwork.

Family holidays (all inclusive) – Barceló Punta Umbria

Family holidays – Barceló Punta Umbria

Last summer vacations we spend a week at the Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort.

– “Where are we going this year?” The kids ask. There are many ideas, one of the dreams was to take them on a train trip through Europe. I could visit some friends in the south of France, and I get to know better Provence. Another solution was to return to Tenerife, because it is an island that I love and where I have great memories.  Costa Brava is always in my heart, I close my eyes and I am there. And, there’s so much left to see …

But weighing the pros and cons, the costs, the convenience, the absence of stress / work and extras, we decided to go back to the hotel where we were last year – the Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort Hotel.

Why? What’s so special about Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort?

I think you can only understand the experience, after spending a week there. If at first glance it may seem like a huge resort, (it’s the largest hotel with Congress Center in Europe) it has everything we need for a family holiday with no worries or stress. That kind of vacation that allows us to read a book, have fun, eat well, take naps in the afternoon and go for beautiful walks along the beach.

Here are some highlights of this hotel:

  • The food is excellent. I did not think it was possible to put together such quality and service in an all-inclusive resort. It was really surprising. Buffet stands with great presentation and lots of variety. Every day we changed restaurant – there are 4 in total: the food in the world (Compass) had a bit of everything, Indian, Turkish, Chinese etc. The Italian food restaurant (El Calé) had great pizzas and pasta and the American food restaurant Tex-Mex (Cormoranes) had tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs and the like. The Andalusian food restaurant (El Estero) simulated a Spanish market, where the enormous prawns and the typical paella were in plain sight. There is also a restaurant à la Carte (Camarina) but I did not get to go. At breakfast we highlight the natural orange juice and the typical churros. You can also choose half-board (you can choose to have lunch or dinner). And yes, in view of this delicious scenario, I strongly recommend the all inclusive scheme (bracelet).
  • The entertainment program for the kids surpassed all expectations. From shows alluding to Disney movies, mini-disco, magic shows in the garden, treasure hunt, teenagers’ social lounge, water park, inflatables in the pool … the animation team does not stop for adults or for adults. children! The nights ended with everyone dancing in the amphitheater.
  • The SPA of the Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort is spectacular – they are 2500 m2 of relax! It has a huge pool with several massage jets, jazuzzis and a hydrotherapy circuit. There is a specific time for the children (according to their ages) and another schedule for adults only (I found it great). Unlike some SPA’s I’ve visited, this is allowed children to enter, as long as accompanied by adults – needless to say we loved it. As for the massages the service is personalized and very professional. I did an incredible full-body massage, “Lomi Lomi” and how well I knew.
  • The gym is TOP. Cycling equipment, paddle tennis or tennis courts, teachers, cross-fit circuit … I loved outdoor bodybalance classes in the morning – what a great way to start the day. And yes, bodybalance and zumba classes are free for guests. For those who like jogging / jogging, cycling there is a huge avenue by the sea.
  • When opening the balcony of the room, the view is amazing. The beach is huge (just to have an idea, it is bigger than Porto Santo). It is a very sunny area (3200 hours per year), which heats us without delay. The green of the trees, the blue of the sky and the sea always accompany us and the birds are heard in the trees.
⇒ See the bedroom view in the instastories

How are the rooms in Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort Hotel?

The rooms have immense light with a very modern decor and luxurious details. The beds and pillows are comfortable, all white as I like. There is minibar in the room, flat screen TV and good wardrobe. The bathroom is spacious and modern.

⇒ See the Hotel Photos

What to do around Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort?

Punta Umbria is a charming fishing village with some picturesque houses, from the time of the miners, especially by the river. There are beautiful walks on foot or by boat. It was here that I had the best homemade ice cream I have ever tasted, at the level of the best in Rome! Suggestion: the ice cream thousand leaves. Seville is only 1 hour away, and it is a city with lots to see.

How is the beach next to the Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort? And the pools?

It has a giant pool area for adults and children (4000 m2 of area) and many green areas around. Also, it is on the first line of the beach, just across the road. The beach is yellow sand and the water is not too cold. It has one of the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. I did not explore the beach much, but there is a chance to do SUP, kayaks or sailing. There are also lots of bars with music in the evening and they say it has a good atmosphere. The pools are really huge and there are lots of poolside bars with cocktails, snacks, ice cream and fresh fruit already cut into sticks and served in small glasses.

 

 

How to get to the Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort?

The locality is called “Paraje de los Enebrales” a natural park of Punta Umbria, with protected species, like chameleons. It is 15 km from Huelva and 45 km from Seville (1 hour by car on the A 49). To facilitate logistics, we chose to rent a car in Lisbon (we came by the A 22), but we could also have gone by plane to Faro and rent a car in the Algarve. There is a cheap car park nearby, 1 week was priced at € 7.

 

Why is the Hotel Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort a good option?

Because parents also need vacations and the hotel takes care of everything for us … with great taste, friendliness, professionalism and quality. All done thinking about children, or in other words:

Happy children – Relaxed Parents.

So that’s the suggestion !! Maybe we’ll meet there 🙂

 Online Booking ⇒ Barceló Punta Umbria Beach Resort.

Subscribe From Madeira to Mars Newsletter and get a FREE Guide to Madeira in your inbox. 

See you also in Instagram and Pinterest! 😉

Why rent a car in Madeira ?

Why rent a car in Madeira?

If you’re wondering about renting a car in Madeira or what’s the best way to get around the island, this post is a must-read.

*Information in January 2019

 Reasons to rent a car in Madeira:

1. See more in less time

At first sight, Madeira may seem like a small island with a length of 57 km (east to west) and a width of 22 km. However, when you take a closer look, you realise that it takes about 3-4 hours to get from Funchal to Porto Moniz, by public transport, but only about 1 hour to get there by private car.

Why? Due to its mountainous terrain. The public bus itinerary is generally longer because it includes a few stops which serve the locals that live along the route. By car, you can drive through roads and tunnels to reach the destination more quickly.

Driving through the clouds in the beautiful scenic road to Pico do Areeiro

2. Enjoy well signed roads

Most roads in Madeira are well signed. The fastest routes are  VR1 (motorway) and Via Expresso: VE1, VE2, VE3 and VE4 that interconnect the main locations in the island.

3. Drive on incredible scenic roads

Madeira offers about 170 km of coastline, with spectacular roads by the sea and the cliffs. On some trails, you can see beautiful waterfalls along the road, especially on the north and south-west coast.

4. Travel at your own pace

On holidays, nobody likes to be in a hurry. I would rather have the “stop whenever you feel like it” kind of trip. When renting a car, you can obviously travel at your own pace, as you do not have to follow the bus schedule. Note that in some parts of Madeira, there are only 2-4 bus trips per day.

Take your photos with no rush.

5. Go to the beach and the mountains in one day

One of the things I enjoy the most when driving a car in Madeira, is to go from the sea to the peaks on the same day. I can start my morning by soaking up the sun at the beach, then have lunch somewhere in the misty mountains. Afterwards, I can go for a Levada walk and finish off my day,  watching the most amazing sunset at one of Madeira’s highest peaks.


Last week, I rented a car at Why Not Car Rental in Madeira. I hope this article can help you clarify some of the most frequently asked questions, regarding car rental.

1. Which is the best car to drive in Madeira?

I was looking for an economical car option, so I went for a class  B – a Fiat 500, gasoline. The car was in good condition (plus it came with some nice free extras like a fixed glass roof, USB charger and Bluetooth to connect your phone). I had no issues while driving it, even when I drove up the steep and hilly road to Pico do Areeiro. However, make the best decision according to your budget. If you’re more than two passengers, carrying extra luggage or if you plan to drive out of the main roads, it’s better to go for a more powerful engine.

 

When choosing the type of car, also take into consideration that in Madeira there are cliffs, steep and narrow roads. We drive on the right-hand side, and you’ll need to use the clutch quite often. Drive carefully and respect the speed limits.  Remember to check in advance, if you have free parking in your accommodation, otherwise consider that extra cost on your rental budget.

 

 

2. Which documents do you need to rent a car at Why Not Car Rental?

You need a valid ID/Passport, plus a driving license which is valid in Portugal/EU.

3. How to book a car rental reservation at Why Not Car Rental? And how much can it cost?

You can book on their website, by phone +351 969 528 916 (WhatsApp available) or by email.

This was my experience in 5 steps:

STEP 1 I sent an EMAIL to reservations@whynotcarrental.com 
with the following info:
  • Name and age
  • Type of vehicle – You can visit the website to see the type of vehicles available as well as their prices.
  • Pick up/drop off location (Funchal office / Airport Office – Santa Cruz).
  • Pick up/drop off dates and times – Regular opening times are 8h30 to 18:30h. (Outside this schedule there’s an out of hour fee)

If you plan to pick up/drop off your car at Madeira’s Airport, the Why Not Car Rental Office is in Rua do Cano 9, Santa Cruz (about 3 minutes drive from the airport). So, their van will pick you up at the airport arrivals (you can send them your flight number in advance). You can also ask for hotel deliveries/collection, but there’s an extra fee according to the location.

STEP 2 ⇒ I received an EMAIL with 2 price options:
with or without full coverage.  

The price is variable according to the number of days you rent the car (1-2 days, 3-6 days or 7+ days). For rentals of 7 + days, the daily rate for my Fiat 500 was 24,00 euros* / day. 

* Information valid in 22/01/2019  Check the full terms and conditions by clicking here.

STEP 3  Choose the car rental option that suits
your needs to get an email with the reservation number.

 Click here to the see prices and what’s included in the full coverage option.

Be sure to save the reservation number to present at the pickup.

STEP 4 ⇒ PICK UP

I picked up the car at the Why Not Car Rental -Funchal Office. It’s centrally located in Funchal, on the north side of the Municipal Garden, nearby Madeira Tourism Office.
Address: Rua Ivens, 12, 13-B 9000-046 Funchal.

We handled the documentation quickly, and I got a copy of the contract. The parking is next to the office. After checking for any external damages in the car, I was ready to leave the garage. The staff was very polite, friendly and helpful.

Rua Ivens

Funchal Office

Why Not Car Rental Parking

STEP 5 ⇒ DROP OFF

I drove back to the garage in Rua Ivens. They checked the car to see if there were any damages and keys were delivered. P.S- Don’t forget to refill the car before dropping it off. It happened to a friend of mine, and he almost lost the flight rushing to find the nearest gas station!

Why Not Car Rental delivered a great service, the car did not disappoint, and the staff was friendly and professional. For more information about this Car Rental in Madeira click here.


So, here are some of the highlights of my experience of renting a car in Madeira. I hope it helps you to plan the next road trip on the island 😉

Disclaimer: This blog post was supported by Why Not Car Rental but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Where to watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Funchal?

Where to watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Funchal?

Most people would agree that the best spot to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Funchal is from the sea. And, even though it is quite spetacular, there are many other great alternatives in the city.

Funchal Bay from the sea

Here are a few suggestions of viewpoints where you can get (for free), a nice perpective of Funchal fireworks!

Palheiro Ferreiro

Pico dos Barcelos
Parque de Santa Catarina
Paiol
Fortaleza do Pico
Rua dos EUA
Miradouro das Cruzes
Marmeleiros/Monte

Garajau is just outside the city, but the perspective is beautiful as well.

Garajau

So get together with your loved one, grab your bottle of champagne and keep those New Year’s wishes flowing – let’s make it a good one!

Where are you watching the fireworks this year? Please leave your comment below. 🙂

Happy New Year 2019 ❤︎


Christmas, from Madeira to Mars…

Christmas from Madeira to Mars…

There is so much to tell you about Christmas in Madeira I do not even know where to begin.

As of mid-December, locals send greetings of “Boas Festas” (Happy Holidays) as they meet on the streets.

They go for evening walks to see the “ Xmas lights” with family or friends.

Chicken soup, hot chocolate and sandwiches of wine meat and garlic, warm early morning mornings, full of chores.

They go knocking on friends doors, to sample the pickles, the vinaigrette onions, and share recipes for cookies and liqueurs. There’s singing, eating and drinking, but above all togetherness.

Nativity scenes, childbirth masses, nights at the market, molasses cakes, liqueurs, flower decorations, togetherness, chants and traditions… everything becomes a party by contagious magic.

The streets are lit up beautifully, from the “strings” of lights in the mountains to the year’s number at every corner of Funchal’s bay.

To understand the beauty of Christmas in Madeira, you need to walk through the island’s streets feel the ambience (and the temperature).

It’s this special burst of emotions, where everyone belongs, friends, family and visitors, from Madeira to Mars.

Recently, I had a Christmas dinner with my family earlier this month. Fifty people gathered, between parents, brothers, children and cousins ​​from first to third grade (who had not seen each other for a long time) –  and so it was Christmas…

It’s that Christmas becomes Christmas when we realise where we came from and why we are who we are.

Christmas is when we feel at home.

I wish you all a Happy Holiday ♥

PS – To all those who spend Christmas without their loved ones, a strong hug. May your friends come knocking on your door and that you find some comfort in a bowl of hot chicken soup – do not give up! A toast to life and come 2019 🙂

Discover 7 Fun New Year Superstitions in Madeira



Booking.com

Vereda do Pico Branco e Terra Chã

Porto Santo trails – Vereda do Pico Branco e Terra Chã

Porto Santo trails – Vereda do Pico Branco and Terra Chã




Last weekend, we took a trip to Porto Santo. We were in need of its peace.

Porto Santo

We walked from the boat to the hotel Praia Dourada – 40 minutes walk by the sea. We could see the reflection of the moon in the ocean, listen to the waves and see stars in the sky. We even sang along a few Queen songs (since we recently saw the Bohemian Rhapsody movie).

On the next morning, our deserved rest arrived. We were deep in sleep after a busy week. Despite the 19ºC outside, there was wind and some rain, so we thought twice if we would do the Vereda do Pico Branco and Terra Chã – and I’m happy we went.

How to get to Pico Branco and Terra Chã?

To get at the trail’s beginning, you can drive to the path’s entrance, via Portela. It is easy to find – you’ll see a sign and place for parking. To get there from the centre of Vila Baleira, it´s about 15 minutes drive by car and by taxi it costs about 14 euros.
The Pico Branco and Terra Chã are both accessible by this path. It takes about 2 hours to get to Pico Branco, and then we go back to reach the house of Terra Chã (400 meters). We then take the same return route to the parking lot.

It is not easy to find adjectives that do justice to the beauty of this place – charming, irreverent, unexpected, magical …
Enchanting because the trail surrounds the peak and we get glimpses of the mountains, the cliffs, the beach, the sea, and the beautiful hills.
Irreverent, because it is a tour of contrasts. There are some ascents and descents, which are made either with light tracks or tough steps. It’s like life (somebody said). It has the shade from trees and offers strong emotions, overwhelmed by the contours of the rocks, unexpected sights and vertiginous passages where your heart beats faster. Although it’s not too difficult overall, it has some unprotected areas, which deserve special care – we went with a guide.
Magical – because Porto Santo has this ability to calm your soul.

 I leave you with some photos of the Vereda do Pico Branco and Terra Chã:

Vereda do Pico Branco Porto Santo

Vereda do Pico Branco Porto SantoVereda do Pico Branco Porto Santo e terra chã

There was still time for a stroll around the center and a walk on the beach.

Vila Baleira Porto SAntoPraia do Porto SantoAs a friend of mine said a few years ago, no one should visit Madeira without discovering Porto Santo’s nature.

Here’s the tip – a getaway to Porto Santo in November;)

40 Photos that will make you want to visit Porto Santo
Book your hotel here.