Beautiful Madeira, the island of eternal springtime

Mountains soaring from an ocean of deepest blue. An abundance of exotic fruit and superlative seafood. Unusual wines.

Madeira seems to be the island that has it all. Yet Portugal’s “pearl of the Atlantic” has always had an image problem.

Here’s what’s unmissable when you travel here:

On Madeira, the black lava bathing pools of Porto Moniz are just about as far as you can get from the island capital, Funchal.

Until recently, it took several hours of twisting mountain road to get there. Now they are reachable in just 50 minutes thanks to a network of highways and tunnels cut through the rocky heart of the island.

A network of hiking trails follow more than 1,300 miles (2,092 kilometers) of narrow stone irrigation channels known as levadas criss-crossing Madeira’s mountainous countryside.

Many lead into the Laurisilva forest, a remnant of the semi-tropical vegetation that covered the island before Portuguese explorers arrived in 1419.

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