- Take to the hills on a (child friendly) mountain hike
- Explore the underworld of Madeira on a tour of its lava tunnels
- Swim with wild dolphins
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Madeira, the destination once known as 'God's waiting room' for the elderly nature of the average visitor, has reinvented itself as a place that's great fun for families.
There are multiple flights to Madeira every day, so depending on which one we've booked you on you will arrive between late morning and early afternoon. It's a four-hour flight, so make sure you have the iPads and Sharky and George packs at the ready. Once you've landed and collected your bags, you will pick up the keys to your hire car and make the 20-minute journey to your hotel. The rest of today is all about exploring your hotel and the gardens. As it's been rather a long day, we've pre-booked you a table for dinner before an early night.
After breakfast this morning, you will take to the road and head west along the coast to the small fishing village of Camara de Lobos, where Winston Churchill came to relax and paint the scenery. Here, you will explore the coastal villages and dramatic cliffs of west Madeira. After a picnic lunch on the cliffs, it will be time to head down to a deserted cove for an afternoon of family frolics in the surf and sandcastle building competitions. Tonight, we've arranged a babysitter for the children so mum and dad can have a romantic dinner overlooking the sea. Our detailed destination Dossier is full of recommendations of where to eat.
This morning you will head east for the day. Heading towards the wild and woolliest parts of Madeira, you will cross peaks and mountains to the tiny coastal village of Faial, using our detailed hiking directions. Here, you will have a traditional lunch before a gentle hike in the mountains, along the levadas or waterways, which double up as perfect walking routes thanks to the trails that trace their courses. After your hike, we recommend heading back to your hotel for a few hours of afternoon pool time before dinner.
Anyone who has ever made a baking powder and vinegar volcano will love today's tour of the volcanic underworld of Madeira. With your expert guide, you will visit the volcanic caves in Sao Vicente on Madeira's north coast. In the caves, you can see the lava tubes left over from the volcanic eruption that formed the Portuguese archipelago. Your expert guide will explain how, 400,000 years ago, Madiera was formed from cooling lava, and how the unique landscape and ecosystem were created.
Today, we recommend enrolling the children in the hotel's Kids' Club for the day - they offer all kinds of activities, from art classes and scavenger hunts to swimming and gymnastics lessons. Meanwhile, we've booked mum and dad in to enjoy a sherry and Madeira wine tasting, followed by a romantic beachside lunch and an afternoon in the spa, where treatment rooms come with ocean views from their private terraces. Treatments range from soothing facials to deeply relaxing massages. Suitably pampered, you will all meet up in time for dinner.
After breakfast, you will drive to a marina where you will be met with by an expert marine biologist and their team for a two-and-a-half-hour dolphin watching trip. Together you will head out to sea, where you will track down the dolphins while your guide explains the behaviour and characteristics of these magnificent creatures. If you're lucky enough to come across a friendly pod, you can hop into the water to swim with the dolphins - a truly wonderful way to end your family holiday.
This evening, we've booked you a private family dinner where your personal chef will whip up traditional dishes to delight even the fussiest of eaters.
Today it is sadly time to head home, but we've booked you on an afternoon flight so you still have time for some poolside fun before heading to the airport. The three-and-three-quarters hours flight will land between mid-afternoon and late evening depending on which we book.
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