- Take the helm, trim the sails and help to navigate;
- Explore Funchal and nearby UNESCO Word Heritage natural park;
- Leave the winter blues behind with a swim in Porto Santo's warm waters
- Sail past the remote and rugged Ilhas Desertas and spot the undisturbed seabird colonies
If its relaxation you're after, this trip is for you. The Santa Maria Manuela leaves the city of Funchal for the golden sands of Porto Santo. Upon its return the ship sails through the natural sanctuary of Ilhas Desertas.
The nine golden kms of fine sand, bathed by the turquoise waters of the Atlantic is a welcome sight for those looking to escape the last of the winter. The ship anchors in front of this beach, which in 2012 was voted by '7 Wonders: Beaches of Portugal' as "the best dune beach", and is said to have medicinal qualities. After a dip in the warm waters of Porto Santo and a stroll in the sand dunes we return to the ship for sundowners.
We leave Porto Santo to the north and head for the Ilas Desertas Nature Reserve, three uninhabited islands still in their purest state (Deserta Grande, Ilhéu Chão and Bugio). The islands host rare populations of breeding seabirds like Cory's Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel, Band-rumped Strom Petrel and Yellow-legged gull, as well as the Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, and Barn Owl. Another local highlight is the possibility of spotting Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Santa Maria Manuela will then return to Madeira with its primitive laurel forest, unique water channels, waterfalls and breath-taking vistas and the ever-blossoming and charming city of Funchal.