How to spend a weekend in Madeira, Portugal’s lush adventure island

Five adventure sports to try in Madeira

Over the past decade, Madeira has seen a rapid growth of new adventure outfits offering a wider and wilder range of tours. From rappelling through waterfalls to world-class trail running, take your trip to the next level with outdoor activities.

1. Coasteering
A catch-all term for coastal activities including cliff jumping, rock climbing, and snorkelling, coasting is an exhilarating way to see the island. A half-day mountain tour offers adrenaline-filled exploration of some of Madeira’s most beautiful and lesser-known sea outcrops and caves in a protected marine park. Helmets, life jackets and wetsuits are included, as are the services of an experienced bilingual guide. € 60 (£ 50).

2. Canyoning
Walk along the pretty Levada do Alecrim to reach your starting point: the top of a series of picturesque waterfalls and lagoons descending a canyon from the Paul da Serra plateau. While milder tours are available, the 2.5-hour Ribeira do Lajeado group outing is for intermediate level and the highest abseil covers an 80-foot drop. € 80 (£ 68).

3. Running
If you’re interested in off-road racing, you’ve probably heard of the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MUIT). The 70-mile race across the islands, which takes place on April 23, 2022, attracts the biggest names in the sport. For those looking for a more straightforward running vacation, Go Trail Madeira offers full-day guided tours off the beaten path and longer trips, including yoga and running retreats.

4. Scuba diving
Diving in the warm, biodiversity-rich waters off Madeira has become a serious industry in recent years, with new wrecks sunk in 2018 and several centers, including Manta Diving, aimed at both beginners and skilled divers. Garajau Nature Reserve in Madeira is known for its clear waters and varied marine life. Two dives, with equipment, cost 120 € (100).

5. Paragliding
Soar with certified guides and admire the spectacular geography of the volcanic island from above. Due to a temperate and stable climate, tandem flights depart most afternoons and participants can choose from over 80 launch sites across the island. The pilots of Madeira Paragliding offer a barbecue before take off and drinks on landing, completing the experience in style. € 75 (£ 63).

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