When the Portuguese navigators got to shore in 1420 they baptised the island as Madeira (wood in Portuguese) because of the amount of plants, bushes and trees they saw. At the time Madeira was a dense wild forest, but slowly it turned into a beautiful well-tended garden that wows whoever visits, specially during Spring.
This time of the year is great to explore the archipelago and we'll show you why.
Perfect weather for hiking
Madeira has a subtropical weather all year round, meaning temperature is always mild and there's a high humidity index. This climate and the rich volcanic soils are responsible for the luxurious vegetation that covers great part of the islands. Twenty percent of ilha da Madeira, the main and most populated one, is actually UNESCO World Heritage laurissilva forest.
Spring is a great time to venture to the archipelago and explore its heritage avoiding the summer heat and the crowds. There are over 20 official hiking trails in both ilha da Madeira and Porto Santo and they're are a joy to explore during this time of the year. Landscapes are utterly beautiful and take you through parts of the island you couldn't access any other way.
Take part in the Easter celebrations
The weeks before Easter are filled with games, parades, music and the celebrations reach its peak on Easter Sunday. After the religious traditions, which involve a big parade and a mass, families gather to have lunch together and share the delicacies they prepare with the neighbours and close friends. The most common banquet is roasted kid and various sweet treats, all washed down with the sweet local wine.
Don't miss out on the Flower Festival
It's not by chance that Madeira is known as the "floating garden". During spring many flowers bloom and specifically ilha da Madeira becomes a sight for sore eyes. The green scenario is sprinkled with as many colours as you can think of and the gardens become even more beautiful.
About 15% of the flowers are endemic species, meaning you can't find them anywhere else in the world and the remaining 85% comprise exotic ones that come from the 4 corners of the world, such as China, Madagascar, Brazil and the Phillipines.
The colourful spectacle comes to life during the Flower Festival, a massive party that takes place in May and highlights flowers in all forms. It all starts with the construction of a massive mural made of flowers, where only children participate, and ends with massive parades, decorations and beautiful flower carpets.
Explore the virgin islands
Two thirds of the archipelago is protected area. Apart from the laurissilva forest, there are many other areas which have profound natural value. The steep hills in the north of Ilha da Madeira, the clear waters around Ponta do Garajau where schools of big fish tend to show up, Ilhas Desertas which are home to the rarest seal in the world and, of course, Ilhas Selvages which are an absolute paradise for birdwatching.
From the 7 islands that form the archipelago only Madeira and Porto Santo are inhabited. Desertas and Selvagens are wild reserves, protected by biologists and the marine guard. It's possible to cross the rocky seas by boat to visit them and learn about the local fauna and flora on site.
Porto Santo is a safe harbour
The island of Porto Santo is the second biggest in the archipelago and is famous for the marvellous stretch of golden sand that sprays for 9 km. The contrast between the light coloured sand and the turquoise waters creates the "standard paradise picture" visitors proudly post on social networks.
Spring is actually pretty much paradise as the number of visitors is reasonable, the water temperature is quite nice to go for a swim and the island invites you to spend a chilled time.
Porto Santo really is a fantastic place to disconnect from the routine and slow down, offering a great mix of natural landscapes perfect for both active people and sun seekers.
Read more about Madeira archipelago here.
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