Funchal Harbour

Madeira Island, also known as the "Island of Forests," is the larger of two inhabited volcanic islands in the Portuguese Madeira archipelago. The island's prolific and treasured laurel, or "laurisilva," forests are designated World Heritage sites. One of Prince Henry the Navigator's captains discovered Madeira Island in 1419 as he sought refuge from a violent storm. Today it serves as a refuge of another sort.

Principal City: Funchal
Tourist Board: Madeira

Its geographic locale makes for a mild, subtropical climate perfect for sightseeing, water sports, scenic horseback rides and golf with a spectacular view. The 27-hole Santo da Serra Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones, is the site of the Madeira Island Open, part of the PGA European tour.

Funchal Market

Europe has celebrated Madeira wine since the 16th century and the island still produces more than a dozen cultivars on the same fertile hillsides. Over the years, the Portuguese built more than 2.000 kilometres of aqueducts, or "levadas," to transport water to the agricultural regions. They provide a seductive web of walking paths through the resplendent countryside.

The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens sit on the site of an 18th-century English Consul's former estate, aptly named "Quinta do Prazer," or "Pleasure Estate." The gardens surrounding the original stately manor brim with exotic and indigenous plants and encompass koi-filled lakes, Japanese gardens and a world-renowned ceramic tile collection, dating from the 15th century.

Madeira Island is known as "The Pearl of the Atlantic" and, like a pearl, it is a rare and fascinating find.