A Guide to Boat Tours in Funchal: Top 7 Picks for 2024

Feb 7, 2024 | Activities

If you are planning to visit Madeira in 2024, you must not miss taking a boat tour in Funchal, the capital and largest city on the island. Funchal is a historically, culturally, and naturally beautiful city that offers breathtaking views of the sea and mountains.

Boat tours in Funchal are one of the most popular and sought-after activities for tourists, who can choose from various options of companies, types of vessels, and itineraries. There are trips for every taste and budget, ranging from catamarans to traditional boats, sailboats, and speedboats. There are also themed tours, such as those recreating Christopher Columbus’s journey, those celebrating the sunset, or those including diving and snorkelling.

But how do you choose the best boat trip in Funchal for your journey? In this article, we will help you answer these questions by presenting the 7 best choices for boat trips in Funchal in 2024.

Current Scenario of Boat Tours in Funchal in 2024

Funchal is one of the most visited cities in Portugal, welcoming around 1.5 million tourists per year. The city is renowned for its natural beauty, mild climate, gastronomy, history, and culture. Funchal is also a significant cruise port, attracting thousands of travellers eager to explore the island of Madeira.

Boat tours in Funchal are among the city’s main tourist attractions, offered by various companies operating in the port and marina. These boat trips provide a way to appreciate the city and island’s landscape, observe marine life, relax, and have fun. They also serve as a means to explore the region’s history and culture, visiting historical sites such as Cabo Girão, Porto Santo Island, and Desertas Islands.

Boat trips in Funchal are highly popular among tourists, who can choose from different types of vessels, including catamarans, wooden schooners, sailboats, speedboats, and traditional boats. There are various types of tours available, ranging from a few hours to a full day, some including meals and drinks, water activities, themed experiences, and customized options. Prices for boat trips in Funchal vary depending on the company, type of vessel, tour type, duration, season, and demand.

While boat trips in Funchal can be enjoyed throughout the year, there are some seasons more suitable than others. According to experts, the best months for boat trips in Funchal are from April to October when the weather is warmer and drier, the sea is calmer, and visibility is better. However, there are also advantages to taking boat trips in Funchal during the winter months, such as lower crowds, reduced prices, and a higher likelihood of spotting whales.

The 7 Best Choices for Boat Tours in 2024

If you are a lover of the sea and nature, you can’t miss the opportunities that the year 2024 offers for incredible boat tours around the world. In this text, we will present the 7 best choices for you to venture out on the waters and discover fascinating landscapes, animals, and cultures.

1. Boat Tour of the Bays

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If you are a nature lover and wish to enjoy a relaxing and enchanting cruise along the sea, you can’t miss the boat tour of beautiful bays that departs from Funchal towards Machico and then to Baía d’Abra, a wonderful wild bay and natural reserve where you can swim, dive, and relax.

During this tour, you will have the opportunity to admire the beauty of the southern coast of Madeira Island, with its beaches, cliffs, caves, and bays that create breathtaking landscapes. You will also have the chance to observe the rich marine biodiversity, including whales, dolphins, fish, and birds.

The boat tour of beautiful bays can be taken on the Margarita Sunset, a comfortable and safe boat equipped with covered and open areas, hammocks, a bar, restrooms, and a ladder for access to the sea. The boat has a capacity for 70 people and is crewed by a team of sailors, guides, and cooks, ensuring your safety, enjoyment, and satisfaction.

2. Boat Tour to Deserted Islands

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If you are looking for a more intimate and exclusive connection with nature, a great option is to take a boat trip to deserted islands. These islands are protected areas without human inhabitants but instead host a variety of animal and plant species living in harmony. A boat trip to deserted islands allows you to enjoy pristine beaches, engage in scuba diving and snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, and explore the local wildlife and flora. An example of a destination offering this type of tour is Madeira, where you can visit the Deserted Islands, an archipelago consisting of three islands that serve as a wildlife sanctuary.

3. Boat Tour for Dolphin and Whale Watching

One of the most thrilling and unforgettable experiences you can have at sea is observing dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. These animals are intelligent, sociable, and curious, often interacting with boats and the people who visit them. Also, a boat tour for dolphin and whale watching allows you to admire the beauty and grace of these marine mammals, learn about their characteristics and behaviours, and contribute to their conservation.

4. Boat Tour Santa Maria

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If you are passionate about history and culture, you must not miss taking a boat tour on the Santa Maria, a replica of Christopher Columbus’s flagship during his voyage of discovery to the American continent in 1492. A Santa Maria boat tour allows you to travel back in time and experience what it was like to sail on a 15th-century vessel, with all its charm and challenges. Additionally, you can learn about the life and adventures of the famous navigator and explorer.

5. Catamaran Tour

If you are looking for a comfortable, fast, and fun boat tour, a great choice is to take a catamaran tour. The catamaran is a type of vessel with two parallel hulls, providing it with greater stability, speed, and space. A catamaran tour allows you to soak up the sun and wind on the deck, enjoy a panoramic view of the sea and coast, and make use of amenities such as a bar, restroom, and music. Additionally, you may have stops for swimming and snorkelling.

6. Speedboat Tour

If you enjoy adrenaline and excitement, a great alternative is to take a speedboat tour. The speedboat is a type of vessel equipped with a powerful engine, allowing it to reach high speeds and perform radical maneuvers. Also, a speedboat tour enables you to experience the sensations of freedom and adventure at sea, explore places inaccessible by other means, and have a privileged view of the landscape.

7. Boat Tour to Porto Santo

If you want to explore a paradisiacal, tranquil, and welcoming destination, an excellent choice is to take a boat tour to Porto Santo, an island that is part of the Madeira archipelago. Porto Santo is renowned for its 9 km long beach of fine golden sand, which is believed to have therapeutic properties and its calm, turquoise blue sea with pleasant temperatures. A boat tour to Porto Santo allows you to admire the island’s natural beauty, engage in activities such as hiking, golf, cycling, and diving, and learn about its history and culture.

Boat Tours Funchal: Conclusion

In 2024, a visit to Madeira promises unforgettable boat tours from Funchal, the island’s captivating capital. With its historical charm and natural beauty, Funchal serves as the perfect launchpad for exploring the sea. Boat trips, ranging from catamarans to themed adventures, offer breathtaking views and cultural immersion. Funchal, attracting 1.5 million visitors annually, stands out for its gastronomy and mild climate. Boasting various vessel options, these tours cater to diverse preferences and budgets. Whether observing marine life, stepping aboard the historic Santa Maria, or cruising to Porto Santo’s golden beaches, each tour delivers a unique experience. As seasons influence the experience, warmer months (April to October) are recommended, but winter offers perks like fewer crowds and whale sightings. Make your 2024 visit truly exceptional with these seven boat tour choices, blending adventure, relaxation, and exploration.

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