Madeira a Superyacht Destination ?

The North Atlantic archipelago of Madeira may not have featured on very many superyacht itineraries in recent years but that could all be set to change if plans by the Portuguese autonomous region’s tourism authority come to fruition. KT Newman paid a visit there for the Islander this summer to find out what might be on offer to visiting superyachts and their guests.

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Madeira is a four-island chain located roughly equidistantly around 600 miles from Faro on southern coast of Portugal and Casablanca in Morocco. There is simply no disguising the volcanic origins of Madeira’s main island which towers darkly out of the Atlantic Ocean to more than 6,000 feet at its highest peak – the spectacular Pico Ruivo in the centre of the island.

 

With year round sunshine average temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius the island has an already flourishing tourist industry with droves of holidaymakers flying in from Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

 

It would be incorrect to say that superyachts never ever visit but when they do come it tends to be for provisioning and fuelling rather than with guests. However, when I met with Eduardo Jesus, Madeira’s regional secretary for economy, tourism, and culture, he made it clear that Madeira had much greater aspirations.

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“Currently superyachts stop here on the way from Europe to the United States or the other way round, for fuel or to buy something else – but we want to be very much more than a stop off like this,” he told me. “We have made significant investments along the waterfront in Funchal [Madeira’s capital city in the south west of the main island] and in the main harbour we are preparing an area to install a quay specifically to put the superyachts.”

 

While Funchal’s superyacht dock will likely not come on line for another two years or so Jesus believes Madeira is very much worthy of consideration as an alternative superyacht destination in the meantime.

 

“We have good anchorages all around the island and there are lots of places on the coast that can only really be accessed by boat with restaurants where you can eat authentic dishes like nowhere else in the world. We have amazing hiking trails across the island so you can explore the mountains and take in breathtakingly beautiful views. Culturally there is a lot we have to offer too – there is a great deal of interesting history to our islands.”

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After my admittedly whistle-stop tour of Madeira, I can testify to the truth of his comments.

 

Make the effort to get some altitude and you will be rewarded with unforgettable panoramic views of the mountains valleys and the ocean. For lovers of marine wildlife, the archipelago’s remote location means there is plenty to observe, including whales, dolphins and turtles in their natural environment. (Incidentally, I was impressed to hear about an agreement among the local tour boat companies that limits interactions to 20 minutes to avoid stressing out the animals.)

 

Medieval Funchal proved to be an interesting city to wander around to soak up the local atmosphere and everywhere I went on the island the locals were gentle and welcoming and it seemed impossible to find a bad restaurant or a run-of-the-mill bar.

 

Being honest Madeira is unlikely to become the number one European superyacht destination in the next few years. That’s going to take a little longer for sure, but with the government planning plenty of activity in the next few years in the build-up to celebrations in 2019/20 to mark 600 years since its discovery, for those adventurous superyacht owners or charterers looking for an alternative to the tried and trusted Mediterranean hotspots Madeira could well fit the bill nicely.

 

For more information about what Madeira has to offer go to: www.visitmadeira.pt

 

 

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