Adventures / Wild Swimming

Hike and Wild Swim Madeira's Atlantic Coastline

Swim at idyllic, permit-only spots in the crystal clear waters around the 'Pearl of the Atlantic'

This trip is no longer on sale

Trip Ref #10432

Adventures / Wild Swimming

Hike and Wild Swim Madeira's Atlantic Coastline

Swim at idyllic, permit-only spots in the crystal clear waters around the 'Pearl of the Atlantic'

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Madeira

ANNUAL LEAVE

1 week off work

SEASON

May-Jul, Oct-Nov

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Madeira Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You'll need to be a decent swimmer, happy in the water for a couple of hours a day covering between 2-3.5km with kayak and boat support

Reach remote spots by boat for otherworldly supported swims along stunning stretches of coastline

Hike spectacular trails between your swims and fuel up with traditional Portuguese feasts in Madeiran tavernas

Be one of only a handful of swimmers allowed to swim in the Desertas Islands Nature Reserve, eyes peeled for whales, dolphins and turtles

Bed down in a luxe cliffside hotel with its own pool and direct access to the cobalt waters of the Atlantic

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert local swimming guides, plus support boat and kayak

Accommodation

7 nights in a 4-star hotel in Funchal

Meals

All breakfasts, lunches and refuel snacks

Transfers

To and from Madeira Airport and everything in between

Permits

Permits to exclusive swimming locations

Photography

Photos and videos of each of your swims

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Madeira Airport

12:00

Ends

Madeira Airport

10:00

Transfers

Airport transfers are included if you arrive on the morning of Day 1 in time for the group pick up at 12:00 midday, so please let your host know your flight times. Your trip ends back at Madeira Airport at 10:00am on Day 8 in time for flights leaving from midday onwards. If you are getting an earlier flight that morning, your host can arrange a taxi or private airport transfer for you.

If you need to make your own way from Madeira Airport to your base in Funchal, a one-way taxi from the airport will take 20-minutes and cost in the region of £25 / €30.

Travel options

There are numerous flight options to Madeira for travellers from various major international airports, sometimes transiting through Lisbon depending on your route and airline.

Day 1 – Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Your hotel in Madeira provides a continental buffet breakfast each morning. Lunch is included on every day of the trip, with a combination of meals at local tavernas, cafes or as a picnic. This is done the Portuguese way: with a big quantity of various dishes and for the group to tuck into everything together. You will sit down for a fair amount of time for these meals, and adapt to the local pace. This is very much the local's approach to eating. You can tuck into Madeira's classic dish Espada com banana - black scabbard fish served with fried banana.

Evening meals are not included in the trip cost, allowing you to explore Funchal after your days out in the wilder parts of Madeira. Budget around €10 for an evening meal, not including alcohol. Your hotel in Funchal also has an excellent restaurant if you don't fancy venturing out.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Hotel Sentido Galomar

Hotel Sentido Galomar is a 4-star hotel located on a cliff at Ponta D’Oliveira, a short drive away from Funchal. The hotel has a contemporary interior, direct sea access, plus indoor and outdoor pools - in case you need to swim some more on the trip! There is a spa and wellness centre, a pool bar and two restaurants. You'll stay in same-sex twin share rooms unless you have requested a private room upgrade.

Please note that the first choice accommodation outlined above is subject to availability, if the hotel is full on any given departure date you'll stay at a different hotel of a similar standard.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Welcome to Madeira

Swimming

1hr · 1.5km

Meet your host at Madeira Airport, jump in the van for a short drive to Funchal and check in to your base for the trip. Meet up with your fellow swimmers and swim guides over lunch at the hotel for a safety briefing and a chat through the adventure to come. Head over to the Funchal Lido in the afternoon for an acclimatisation swim in the seawater pool.

Day 2

Ponta de São Lourenço Nature Reserve

Swimming

2hr · 3.5km

Hiking

2.5hrs · 4.5km · 283m up · 320m down

Your swimming adventure gets underway this morning as you head for the Ponta de São Lourenço Nature Reserve while surrounded by the imposing cliffs that dominate the landscape. Alongside your swim guides and support kayaks, you will swim along the coast, passing by the impressive Gruta dos Pombos rock formations. The swim ends at the wonderful bay of Cais do Sardinha, where you'll tuck into lunch overlooking the Atlantic. Enjoy some downtime in the afternoon before heading out for a short hike through the São Lourenço Peninsula.

Day 3

Swim expedition to the Desertas Islands Nature Reserve

Swimming

2hrs · 3km

Hiking

45mins · 0.5km · 5m up · 15m down

Board a boat with your swim guides bound for the Desertas Islands Nature Reserve - a small archipelago of three islands to the southeast of Madeira. Swimming here is by permit-only, so you'll be one of the few swimmers to experience the waters in the reserve. Hop into the water at Deserta Grande and hug the coast of the small islands alongside your support boat and kayak. Anchor in the bay in front of a research centre and tuck into lunch on dry land, followed by a guided hike around the islands. Back in the boat, keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and turtles which are frequently seen in the waters here.

Day 4

Swim along Madeira's fajãs

Swimming

2hr · 3km

Explore the south coast of Madeira island and the hard to reach gem of Calhau da Lapa, where steep cliffs plummet into some of the clearest waters found in Madeira. Experience an unforgettable swim to the Fajãs do Cabo Girão, a 580m-high sea cliff which shelters a network of fajãs - wave-cut platforms accessible only by water, which farmers have cultivated for years. This is a unique and tranquil area, far from the developed parts of the island and it's an absolute dream to swim through. Settle in post-swim for a long lunch in the fishing village of Caniçal and spend the rest of the day relaxing and recharging batteries for the next adventure.

Day 5

Beach swims and valley hikes to hidden waterfalls

Swimming

2hrs · 3.5km

Hiking

3-4hrs · 10-12km · 250m up · 1000m down

Enjoy a more relaxed morning of swimming in the calm and crystalline waters of the stunning Garajau Partial Nature Reserve. Start your swim at Praia do Garajau and make a short crossing to Praia dos Reis Magos along the coast, taking in the diversity of marine life beneath you as you swim. Grab lunch at a restaurant with the best views of the north coast of Madeira, over to the island of Porto Santo. Head back to dry land in the afternoon and hike through the deep mountainous valley of Ribeiro Frio (Cold River), continuing through verdant jungle landscape to the off-the-beaten-track waterfalls of Poço das Pulgas.

Day 6

Ponta do Pargo

Swimming

2hrs · 3.5km

Hiking

3-4hrs · 7km · 300m up · 300m down

Another incredible swim spot awaits as you head to the southwest corner of the island. Your morning swim links up Ponta do Pargo with Fajã da Ovelha. You’ll have lunch and visit an old port that once supplied the town of Ponta do Pargo, located on an abandoned beach, before hiking through forgotten and abandoned farms with impressive views to the west coast of the Island.

Day 7

Waterfalls and forests of northwest Madeira

Swimming

2hrs · 3.5km

Hiking

3-4hrs · 10km · 500m up · 500m down

Today you'll get to know the northwest corner of Madeira. Tackle a swim between Porto Moniz and Seixal, passing by the iconic islet of Ribeira da Janela. After tucking into lunch in the small village of Porto Moniz or Seixal, you'll head for the Laurisilva forest on the north slope of Madeira. Hike through the thick, subtropical forest, meandering through the lush, green canopy of plants and trees.

Day 8

Goodbye Madeira

Your wild swimming odyssey had to come to an end eventually. After breakfast, your host will transfer you to the airport at Madeira in time for your return flight home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

Whats available to hire?

  • Wetsuit and buoy - see optional extras for price

Please note that although there are wetsuits available through the host, we advise bringing your own. This will ensure you swim in a suit which fits correctly and will be comfortable to swim in for several days in a row.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Main pack or suitcase
  • Daypack 20-30 litres

SWIMWEAR & EQUIPMENT

  • Swimming goggles (x2)
  • Swimming wetsuit (optional, but advised)
  • Swimming hats
  • Tow float / drybag / swim buoy
  • Swim Earplugs (if you use them)
  • Waterproof watch (if you use it)

CLOTHES

  • Lightweight walking shoes or sandals for the hikes
  • Sunhat
  • Sweater / light fleece jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts for the hikes
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Something to sleep in

OTHER

  • Lightweight swim towel
  • Waterproof camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncream
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Small personal first aid kit
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Wetsuit hire

Payable Before Departure

Wetsuit hire

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (August)

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (August)

Per Night

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (July)

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (July)

Per Night

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (June)

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (June)

Per Night

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (October)

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (October)

Per Night

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (September)

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room in Sesimbra (September)

Per Night

Single room in Sesimbra (August)

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Sesimbra (August)

Per Night

Single room in Sesimbra (July)

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Sesimbra (July)

Per Night

Single room in Sesimbra (June)

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Sesimbra (June)

Per Night

Single room in Sesimbra (October)

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Sesimbra (October)

Per Night

Single room in Sesimbra (September)

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Sesimbra (September)

Per Night

Double/twin room at Hotel Sentido Galomar

Payable Before Departure

Double/twin room at Hotel Sentido Galomar

Per Night

Single room at Hotel Sentido Galomar

Payable Before Departure

Single room at Hotel Sentido Galomar

Per Night

Optional Private Room Upgrade Madeira

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade Madeira

Each way

Payable Before Departure

Each way

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 87kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

While the hikes are manageable by anyone with basic fitness, you will need good fitness levels for the swims. We suggest that to enjoy this trip to its fullest you should be able to swim 2km in roughly a one-hour session (that's 80 lengths of a 25m pool, or 40 lengths of an olympic sized pool) going at a steady but relatively relaxed pace. Having some confidence in open water will help, and while experienced sea swimmers will absolutely love this trip, this is also a perfect chance for anyone who swims in a pool a couple of times a week to try their first sea swimming holiday. Your host will break the group down into two ability levels to ensure each swim section is enjoyable and nobody is pushed beyond their manageable limit.

At any time you can go out to one of the support boats or take a break to feed or rest. However, you will be surprised at the distances you will be able swim in the company of your fellow adventurers and your experienced swim guides. ​

The average water temperature for this adventure is between 20°C (68°F) and 24°C (75°F). Wetsuits are optional at this temperature. You can bring your own or hire one from your host (see kitlist and optional extras).

Click here to read a comprehensive guide on water temperature and required wetsuit thickness.

Yes, feel free to use whatever items help you to complete an enjoyable and successful swim each day. For logistical and safety reasons we only ask you to inform your guide on Day 1 if you are aiming to use any supplementary equipment.

This trip runs between June and October to make the most of the warm seas during those months. July to September are the warmest and sunniest months of the year, with average highs of 24°C (75°F), though temperatures in the early thirties are not uncommon during the summer. September and October are pleasantly quieter months on the island as a whole (though the remote swim spots you'll be visiting will be blissfully devoid of tourists even in the peak of the school holidays). Expect average highs of 22°C (71°F) through September and October.

You will be guided by two experienced and qualified swim guides throughout the week. They will be by your side for every stroke of the adventure. For each swim, the group will be split into two smaller groups based on swimming ability. At all times, with the exception of the warm-up swim on Day 1 at Funchal Lido, your swims will be accompanied by a support boat and a kayak. If at any point you need to stop to rest or refuel with a snack, your guides are on hand to assist you out of the water for as long as you need.

Your swim guides and local boat pilot will be constantly monitoring the sea conditions. If at any point the conditions are not optimal on any given day then an alternative swim spot will be chosen. As such the itinerary is subject to change.

The tap water on Madeira is safe to drink. Please bring along your own reusable water bottle to fill up at the hotel and at restaurants to avoid buying single use plastic bottles.

You can leave your main luggage in your hotel room in Funchal for the duration of the adventure.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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