Essential Guide to Madeira Islands

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You guide to a golfing getaway in Madeira

Armed year-round by the Atlantic sun, Portugal's most enchanting island is a tiny volcanic mass of black sand beaches, cloud-shrouded peaks and plummeting green valleys – plus a small but highly impressive collection of golf courses.

A great alternative to the Canary Islands or the Portuguese mainland for those seeking a golf holiday in the sun, all three of Madeira's courses have featured in Golf World's Continental European Top 200 and o er evidence that less is sometimes more.

The Cabell B. Robinson-designed Palheiro Golf Club opened in 1993 and is a wonderful play-and-stay option. Perched high above the capital of Funchal and offering a boutique hotel serving fantastic food, the course boasts spectacular ocean views as well as inland holes of such colour that it has often been likened to Augusta National.

A scenic 30-minute drive north brings you to Santo da Serra, home to the Madeira Open and a regular European Tour stop. Perched high above the Machico Bay, its position offers magnificent views of the rocky Atlantic coastline and plenty of elevated drives and brave carries to cli -edge greens.

The Seve Ballesteros-designed Porto Santo is a boat ride away, on the eponymous island north-east of Madeira, stretching across almost the full width of the island, from the dunes to the dramatic basalt cliffs. Typical of its creator, it's a predictably exciting a air, always offering the golfer a route to nerve-wracking glory. Perhaps the greatest advantage Madeira enjoys is its amazingly consistent weather that sees the sun shine strongly every month without ever being blisteringly hot, where the temperature is routinely within a few degrees of  20 ̊C and golf is great at any time of the year.

A popular destination for non-golfers too – drawn to the gastronomy, famous wines, nature trails, world-class fishing, bustling markets and water sports – Madeira is as well set-up to charm golfing travellers as anywhere on the mainland, no matter whether you are travelling in a single-sex group, as a couple, or within a family.

THE ESSENTIALS

Logistics British Airways, easyJet, Jet2 and Monarch all offer direct flights to Madeira, ying into the capital Funchal in around four hours.

Time difference: GMT