Madeira's often pleasant climate invites visitors to enjoy outdoor activities, even if they consist mainly of strolling through Funchal and along park pathways and lanes.
Deep-Sea Fishing -- This is a popular sport on Madeira. The catch is mainly longtail tuna, blue marlin, swordfish, and several varieties of shark. Most boat rentals are moderately priced. The tourist office can supply information about boat rentals and rates.
Golf -- The island maintains two 18-hole courses, both open to the public and accustomed to foreigners. The easier and better established is the Clube de Golf do Santo de Serra, in the hamlet of Santo da Serra (tel. 29/155-01-00; www.santodaserragolf.com), on the island's northeastern side, about 24km (15 miles) from Funchal. Greens fees are 85€ for 18 holes. On rocky, steep terrain that some golfers find annoying is the Palheiro Golf Course, in the hamlet of São Gonçalo, 9050 Funchal (tel. 29/179-01-20), about 5km (3 miles) north of Funchal. It charges 97€ for 18 holes. Clubs and carts are for rent at both establishments, and local caddies are available. At both courses there's a clubhouse with a bar and restaurant, and both are abundantly accented with mimosas, pines, and eucalyptus trees.
Swimming -- Madeira doesn't have beaches. If your hotel doesn't have swimming facilities, you can use those of the Complexo Balnear do Lido (Lido Swimming Pool Complex), Rua do Gorgulho (tel. 29/176-22-17), which has an outdoor Olympic-size pool as well as a spacious outdoor pool for children. It's open daily in summer from 8:30am to 9pm, and off-season from 8:30am to 7pm. Adults pay 5€. Children under 10 swim free with parents; otherwise, they pay 3€ to use the pool. You can rent lounge chairs or umbrellas for 3€ each. The complex has a cafe, a restaurant, an ice-cream parlor, bars, and facilities for exercising in the water. To get there from Funchal, take N101 west for 5 minutes until you see the turnoff for Rua do Gorgulho, at which point you head south along this road to the Lido complex. The Lido is signposted from N101 -- you shouldn't have any trouble finding it. By public transit, take bus no. 6.
Toboggan Rides -- By far the most entertaining rides on the island are on the two- or three-passenger toboggans, which resemble big wicker baskets resting on wooden runners. You get into one of the cushioned passenger seats for a ride down the slippery-smooth cobblestones, which takes about 20 minutes to reach Funchal. Runners are greased with suet to make them go smoother. Trained sled drivers run alongside the sled. If the sled starts to go too fast, they can hop on the back of it and slow it down. Originally, these sleds were used to transport produce from Monte to Funchal. But over the years tourists began to request rides in them, and an island attraction was born. When you pass Terreiro da Luta, a point along the way of your ride (at a height of 875m/2,870 ft.), you'll enjoy a panoramic view of Funchal and see monuments to Zarco and Our Lady of Peace.
Before you begin your descent, visit the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte, which contains the iron tomb of the last of the Habsburgs, Emperor Charles, who died of pneumonia on Madeira in 1922. From a belvedere nearby, you can look down on the whole of Funchal.
Toboggan rides from Monte to Funchal cost 25€ for 2 and end up at Estrada do Livramento, in Funchal. For more information, contact Carreiros dos Montes (tel. 29/178-39-19).
Watersports -- The activities desks of several major hotels, including Reid's Palace, can arrange water-skiing, windsurfing, and rental of boats or sailing dinghies for guests and nonguests. If you want to go snorkeling or scuba diving, check with the Madeira Carlton Hotel, Largo António Nobre 9004-531 (tel. 29/123-95-00).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.