Picture Perfect

Global Traveler|April 2020

Picture Perfect
Explore Madeira in all its mesmerizing natural beauty.
IRENE RAWLINGS

DRAMATIC MOUNTAINS. INTOXICATING VISTAS.

Spring-like weather. And 5-star hotels. All this originally attracted an older, moneyed crowd to the Portuguese island of Madeira — located in the Atlantic, 700 miles from the Portuguese mainland. George Bernard Shaw learned to tango on the lawn of the iconic Reid’s Palace Hotel (now a Belmond). Sir Winston Churchill came here to paint the island’s staggeringly beautiful seascapes.

But recently the picture on this verdant 35- by 13-mile volcanic island has begun to change.

The silver-haired aristocrats are still here, but so are entrepreneurs attracted by the EU’s favorable business climate for startups, young families escaping the cold northern winters, and hardy adventure seekers. These include surfers looking for world-class waves, cave divers exploring the underwater caverns, distance runners getting fit on ocean trails (think Chariots of Fire) and cyclists braving gravity-defying inclines and the ever-changing weather. Local outfitters like Terras de Adventura and LokoLoko can provide gear and guides.

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April 2020