It’s not surprising that Madeira has earned the nickname “Pearl Of The Atlantic”. This beautiful Portuguese island in the North Atlantic Ocean is home to breathtaking natural sights as well as a truly distinctive local culture filled with lore and ties to Portugal, North Africa, and so much more. The island has been known since ancient times. However, it wasn’t until the 1420s that it was eventually settled by the first Portuguese colonists. The lure of this beautiful island, which had long been famed for its legendary beauty and lushness, brought so many people to venture far away from their homeland and jump into the unknown, quite literally! In those years, Europe was also struggling with the strict grip of feudalism and the danger of pestilence and the Black Death, which were further incentives for people to look for something new. The first Portuguese settlers immediately took advantage of the island’s climate, which was a combination of tropical and Mediterranean. The famous “levadas,” which are a prominent Madeira feature to this very day, were built in order to carry water across the island.
The levadas formed into a dense network of irrigation canals that cross even the most remote and wild area of the island, flanked by small paths that originally allowed staff to perform their maintenance duties. These canals enabled settlers to make the most out of their available land for farming purposes. They were so successful at it that eventually, Madeira became a huge exporter of wheat to the mainland! Famously, Madeira became well-known for its sugar trade and sweetened wine, which carries the island’s name.
Besides the fascinating history and heritage of Madeira, the island still retains its wild natural beauty. To sum it up, the island could be described as a tropical paradise with a Mediterranean twist. This makes it extremely unique, and it definitely adds to the charm. The island’s flora and fauna are absolutely one of a kind. There’s an exotic flair in the air, with local plants and flowers treating visitors to distinctive scents and colors. The coastal waters are crystal-clear, and the island is home to many natural pools. These are striking to look at, and they’re pleasant to swim in, offering some respite from the sometimes crushing Atlantic waves. These natural saltwater pools are embedded in volcanic rock, and they are really beautiful to photograph. The aforementioned levadas still serve a very practical purpose after hundreds of years, as they contribute to the country’s hydroelectric energy resource pool. In addition, they are beautifully laid out and well-integrated with nature. Many levadas are a perfect setting for peaceful promenades among nature and offer a great combination of nature and history for those who are keen on experiencing a more immersive twist on what Madeira has to offer.
This island truly is a photographer’s delight, as it’s almost impossible to find a spot that isn’t filled with visual poetry and wonderful aesthetics worth immortalizing. I spent five weeks on the island, and I captured so many wonderful sights throughout my adventure as I visited some of the most beautiful spots the island has to offer. The famed “miradouros” still hold a special place in my memory. These are viewpoints scattered across the island. Each offers a stunning view and a different perspective. While some face the vast ocean, others will give you a great look at the mountainous ranges and hills that define the island of Madeira. Some of these viewpoints are considered among Europe’s most fascinating, and they have been drawing in visitors for many centuries.
If you just move a little further from inhabited villages and step into the wilderness, you’ll immediately experience a thick forest with a misty tropical aesthetic. Places such as the breathtaking “Fanal Forest” are truly the best spots where to explore some of Madeira’s finest natural sights. The Fanal Forest is a stunning ancient laurel forest located in the northwest of the Portuguese island of Madeira. The forest covers an area of approximately 3.5 hectares and is known for its dense and lush vegetation, tall trees, and unique ecosystem. The Fanal Forest is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the island of Madeira. Some of the most common tree species in the forest include laurels, heather, and barbusano, while the forest floor is covered in mosses and ferns. The forest is also known for its unique landscape, which is characterized by a network of winding streams and waterfalls, rocky outcrops, and misty vistas. It’s a popular destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts, who come to explore the forest’s many trails and experience its tranquil beauty.
Next to the Fanal Forest, Madeira offers some of the most beautiful hikes you’ll ever encounter. One of these hikes is the “Pico to Pico hike”. The Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is a popular trail on the island of Madeira in Portugal. It is known for its stunning views and challenging terrain, making it a popular choice for adventurous hikers. The hike starts at Pico do Arieiro, which is the third-highest peak on the island of Madeira, and takes you along a ridge to the highest peak on the island, Pico Ruivo. The trail is approximately 7.5 kilometers long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. The trail is quite challenging, with steep inclines, narrow paths, and sharp drops, so it’s not recommended for inexperienced hikers or those with a fear of heights. However, for those who are up for the challenge, the views along the way are absolutely stunning, with panoramic vistas of the island’s rugged coastline and stunning mountainous interior. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy hiking boots, warm clothing, and plenty of water, as the weather can be unpredictable and conditions can change rapidly. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting out, as the trail can be dangerous in wet or windy conditions. Overall, the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is a thrilling adventure that offers incredible views and a real sense of achievement for those who complete it.
In conclusion, these are only some of the many things to look forward to when exploring the incredibly photogenic and stunning natural sights of Madeira! This is definitely a recommended destination for nature lovers because it has a very broad range of environmental features and settings. From luscious tropical forests to Mediterranean-like coastlines, anything goes. Madeira is full of visual contrasts. The differences between the southern coast and the northern regions are quite considerable. Even the landlocked areas have their own twist, and each village has different colors and traditions to enjoy.
More photos of the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic” can be found below: