Madeira was on our must-see list and is definitely one of our favorite islands. We stayed at the friendly Quinta do Lorde marina and rented a car for several days to explore. It's spectacularly beautiful even in November, past the peak time for flowers.

We went west as far as Calheta visiting the top of Cabo Girão, the highest “sea cliff” in Europe, along the way. Then we headed to the central plateau, Paul da Serra, where you can see across the island from north to south. The sides of the plateau drop off steeply so you see the ocean surrounding you and feel like you’re on top of the world.

And we did a levada walk. We picked a walk of moderate difficulty, drove to the bottom of it, and took a taxi to the top. After a short walk to an overlook, we headed downhill. The view from the overlook was breathtaking.

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