Madeira Mix

Madeira island news and views.

Archive for July, 2008




 In the Posh Golf Travel Magazine – Barry Ward featured this eye opening article about Madeira island:

THERE’S something about islands that’s good for the soul. I can’t think of one I don’t recall with affection, and I know many intimately. Island folk, almost without exception, have elevated relaxation to an art form so there’s no hurry. The cuisine is usually eclectic, often wildly inventive; there are oodles of recreational activities, not to mention the beach and the sun, and romance is a natural by-product..

All of which means they’re grand places to take a holiday, particularly if golf is part of the scenario. Add a touch of exclusivity to the above and you’ve painted a word picture of Madeira.

The island, a Portuguese protectorate, is in the Atlantic on a latitude with Northern Morocco and four hours’ flying time from London. It’s a sizeable piece of real estate measuring 50 kilometres by 30, some of it hilly bordering on the mountainous.

Much of it is untouched and will remain so: 70 per cent of the land mass is protected national park, heavily wooded and cascading with flowers. It’s a preview of Heaven for artists and walkers, the latter encouraged by a network of trails. The climate is agreeable – in summer the temperatures hover around 25 to 27C; winters are mild and perfect for golf and walking.

This may sound Utopian but there’s more. The proud locals consider their home the equivalent of Switzerland – “because everything works,” a happy situation that’s attributable to the head of government who has been in situ for three decades.

A politician of unimpeachable integrity, his objective is simply to achieve what is best for the island and its people. His life is an open book and he frequently stops to chat while walking the streets of Funchal, the island’s capital, where he lives in an ordinary family home. Not long ago he resigned his office in protest at a political edict from Lisbon and went to the public via the polls: he was re-elected unopposed and the edict was rejected. You’ll gather he is revered.

Thanks largely to his efforts the island attracts upwards of a million tourists a year and in consequence the population (260,000) enjoys an enviable quality of life.

This is reflected in the ambience and the service enjoyed by those tourists, many of them regular visitors. They are British, in the main, a large percentage of whom are golfers drawn by two outstanding courses (there’s now a third, on a nearby island, of which more anon.

Of specific appeal to those not familiar is the fact that the temperate climate makes Madeira an ideal choice for summer holidays generally and golf in particular. It can be hot, but not oppressively so and, being an island, there’s usually a cooling sea breeze.

There’s also some breathtaking scenery, for golfers and non-golfers alike.Away from the coast and its modern highway narrow roads wriggle into a succession of hair-pin bends as they navigate the wooded hills with views of the ocean in the far distance.

Both golf courses are on elevated sites, one on a plateau overlooking Funchal and its bay, the other in hill country but only 20 minutes or so from the capital.

The first, Palheiro Golf Club, is part of an estate that includes Casa Velha, a former country house that’s become a de luxe hotel set in the grounds of a world famous garden. It had been some years since my previous visit but memory’s script was unchanged, as were the impeccable standards. The result once again was a joyful experience. If only all holidays were like this…

Nice one Barry!

Looking for the perfect island golf escape?

In a recent article by David Bryce of Golf International Inc. – the perfect island Golf escapes were recommended. Read an excerpt from that article here:

Ever dream of running away to a desert island and escaping from it all? It’s one of those classic dreams most of us have at one time or another and although it may seem a wonderful idea at first, it doesn’t take too long before our sensible side points out the drawbacks of desert island living. Desert islands may have swaying palm trees, crystal clear waters and pristine beaches, but that’s about it.
A desert island sounds good, just as long as it’s not deserted and we have all those little comforts that we take for granted at home and if this is a real vacation, we also need to be pampered. Take heart, there are some wonderful islands out there that have all of the island atmosphere you yearn for and yet they are totally civilized and specialize in pampering their visitors in high style.

Forget those over-crowded islands to the south, where you are more than likely to bump into your next-door neighbors from home, as well as umpteen other familiar looking faces. Instead head across the Atlantic to Europe where you will find some especially attractive islands and they have everything you ever hoped for. Their European history and culture, gives them twice the fascination of those other islands and if you choose your island carefully, you can also find golf — even excellent golf.
Portugal, just like Spain, has two island groups. The Azores, an archipelago of nine small islands, with some surprisingly good golf courses, is located practically in the mid-Atlantic, little more than halfway between Boston and the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. The Madeira Islands, also located in the Atlantic, but much closer to mainland Portugal is the better known of the two island groups.

The main island of Madeira has been aptly referred to as the “jewel of the Atlantic”. Discovered by the Portuguese explorer, Henry the Navigator, in the 15th century, this dramatic volcanic island thrusts up out of the sea, 600 miles southwest of Lisbon and a few hundred miles off the coast of Morocco. It’s only a brief, 1 ½ hour flight from Lisbon, making the possibility of combining stays in Madeira and Lisbon a very practical one week Portugal experience and if you can squeeze in a 10 day trip, add The Algarve and you will be seeing three totally different sides of the country and all of the best golf courses.

Madeira’s never-ending, Spring-like climate seldom varies by more than a few degrees, hovering around the low 70’s in the depths of “winter” and even during the height of summer, temperatures struggle to reach 80 degrees. Rich volcanic soil and an idyllic climate makes this stunningly beautiful island a literal, floating garden, where the main exports are orchids, sugar cane, papayas, mangoes, avocados, grapes and of course, world renowned Madeira wine.

There are four islands in all, only two of which are inhabited – the main island of Madeira and just 25 miles offshore, charming little Porto Santo, population barely 5,000. The remaining two islands, Desertas and Selvagens are uninhabited and retaining their original, natural state, are valuable nature reserves.

Funchal, the charming historic capital sweeps around a picturesque bay and up into a mountainous backdrop. This is where the best of the luxury hotels are to be found, everything from the most impressive resorts to enchanting intimate manor houses, set on private estates where elegance reigns supreme. A profusion of excellent restaurants, equally good shopping and fascinating sightseeing opportunities abound and golf is never far away.

The Madeira Islands do not overwhelm the visitor with a befuddling selection of golf course choices, instead adopting an approach of quality over quantity. There may only be three courses, but the caliber of each is so consistently good, you have no choice, other than to play them all. Santo da Serra and Palheiro, both on Madeira, are automatic must plays and both are literally a few minutes drive from Funchal. But don’t overlook the relatively new and very impressive, Seve Ballesteros layout on tiny Porto Santo Island. Challenging and very handsome, this is what island golf is all about and a very special experience to be savored. Sitting only a short 15-minute flight from Funchal, it’s one of those treasures that will live in your memory for many years to come.

Palheiro Golf, Madeira: Enjoying a magnificent location, 2,500 feet high in the mountains overlooking Madeira’s capital, any player distracted by the never-ending array of breathtaking views is doomed to failure on a course that demands attention from start to finish. A few blind holes and some other occasional oddities, bring complications to a design that was never intended to be a walk in the park. Fortunately, the thoughtful designer, Cabell Robinson, offers a number of different tee-positions to bring this beauty within reach of most golfers. So play to your ability, don’t try to impress and you’ll do just fine.

This is a course that leaves nobody indifferent and at the end of the round, it’s impossible not to have an opinion, and fond memories of this layout in the clouds are all but guaranteed. Unless you have the stamina and agility of a mountain goat, take a buggie; it’ll at least give you some time to enjoy the truly spectacular vistas. Marlin fishing remains hot in Madeira and due to the poor dollar exchange rate we have had some cancellations which means we have some days available in end July beginning August.

We have therefore put together a great package for those of you that can get away for a weekend and catch that fish of a lifetime.

We have called it ‘The Ollie Package’.

The Ollie package: (example flying out of UK with easyjet)

3 days fishing and 2 nights accommodation.

Total price – €2997. (not including flights).

Example of package:
Day 1
–        Fly – arrive 11.00 am and we will pick you from airport and take you straight to fish on Balancal.  You should be fishing by 12.00 (if you travel hand luggage only).  Fish for a full day (finish fishing 20.00) all food and drink on board in 5 star style!
–        Transfer back to Casa Velha hotel.

Day 2
–        Transfer to Balancal – fish full day.
–        Transfer To hotel.

Day 3
–        Transfer To Balancal – fish full day.
–        Catch GRANDER and depart to airport.
–        (Note there is a flight to London that leaves at 20.25).

This is what one of our guests did recently and his name was Ollie.
Come to Madeira and realise every anglers ultimate dream – The grander.

Special available from 29th July 11th August.

Helpful links :
Flights to Madeira –
Casa Velha hotel –

‘Doing an Ollie’ definition :

‘Sitting in office in England and decide at short notice to fly to Madeira at risk of domestic wrath to fish for 3 days and then catch a grander.’

The Cowes to Madeira Yacht Race is new to the RORC sailing programme but the route is centuries old; Charles II granted traders sailing to Madeira tax exemption on wines in 1665. The 2008 race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club is certain to provide some challenging and spectacular ocean sailing for the competitors. On Monday morning, August 11th, the race fleet will line up on the historic Royal Yacht Squadron Line at Cowes and head for Madeira, some 1480 miles away. The race to the sun soaked Atlantic island is sure to be a truly wonderful experience for anyone with a passion for offshore racing.

The Solent is always a challenging place to sail and getting a good start is always important in any yacht race. The competitors will be looking for tidal advantages and changes in wind speed and direction as they make their way west through Hurst Narrows and into the English Channel. Once through Hurst Narrows, the tactics will be to play the many tidal gates before turning South West for Ushant; the southern gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. Ushant is considered one of the most challenging areas to navigate in the world with its many rocks and more than ten knot tide streams. The fleet will then cross or go into the Bay of Biscay depending on the wind speed and direction. By then, the competitors will be getting used to life at sea and would usually be experiencing fast reaching conditions in the Atlantic swell, with extremely comfortable air temperatures, even at night. The fleet will race south down the Spanish and Portuguese coasts and pick up the Canary Current towards the finish line at Madeira which rises 1800 metres out of the ocean. Madeira has its own micro-climate and local conditions may cause a thrilling end to the longest ocean race of a busy RORC season.

RORC Madeira – Cowes Race – Tuesday 26th August 2008

The return race to Cowes could prove to be a very interesting tactical race making the best use of the conditions experienced on the trip down to Madeira. The competitors should be accustomed to offshore sailing from the start and by the finish, they will have experienced roughly 3,000 miles of ocean sailing.

Solo sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented “The RORC Cowes to Madeira race is a fantastic opportunity for sailing enthusiasts and adventurers to do some serious ocean racing, including an encounter with the North-East Trade winds. It’s great that the Clipper 68 foot round the world racing yachts will be on the start line. These are big, fast boats that respond to good crewing.”

Entries have started to come in from all over Europe from a wide variety of yachts, including the smallest boat to finish the 2007 Rolex Fastnet; Foggy Dew, skippered by Noel Racine from La Havre, France. Clipper Ventures are expected to enter at least two of their yachts; The Clipper 68 is likely to be one of the biggest yachts on what already looks to be a competitive start line. Berths remain available for groups or individuals on the Clipper fleet with a discount offered to members of RORC.

A brand new Archambault RC40, British Soldier, skippered by Nicholas Bate crewed by the British Army Sailing Team will be competing. The RORC race to Madeira and back to Cowes is an essential part of their training programme. The team is composed of soldiers who have all seen active service in recent years and offshore racing is an ideal way to unwind when they return home from duty. Enter online via the RORC website by 31st July 2008.

Solo sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented “The RORC Cowes to Madeira race is a fantastic opportunity for sailing enthusiasts and adventurers to do some serious ocean racing, including an encounter with the North-East Trade winds. It’s great that the Clipper 68 foot round the world racing yachts will be on the start line. These are big, fast boats that respond to good crewing.”

For the ful RORC racing programme go to:

Submitted by Egidio Gonçalves – Palheiro Estate

4th July Blue Marlin World Cup – Madeira

Dear Fish Aficionado,

Team Balancal thought you may be interested to hear about the recent exploits in the 4th July Blue Marlin World Cup. Here is what happened……

Fishing was hot and we knew that Madeira would  be one of the favourites to win  with the average size of fish being large and the number of fish being caught in the proceeding weeks.  However one concern was that there were a number of smaller size  blue marlin in the area.  ( Between 250 – 500 pounds) –  this could be great news for the fishery but not if we hooked one on July 4th in the world cup….

We started straight out from Funchal where Captain Anibal was confident we would raise a fish.  At 09.55 Nick decided to change the long left and  as he was winding it in he noticed a large shadow in the water.  When the long left became level with the short left the fish piled on the short left.  The angler got tight quickly but then the fish got off.  The angler then wound the lure back up (all other rods had been cleared by this time.)  The angler then got the rod out of the chair and placed it back in the short left position……at that moment it piled on again! (It may have been a different fish but we will never know..)
This time she did not get off……a tough fish who initially we thought may have been tail wrapped by the way she was behaving, however after 38 minutes the fish was successfully caught.  Now for the big decision – to take the fish or not , after all we were the first boat in Madeira to get hooked up  and would therefore be leading the world cup but for how long….   When the fish was jumping we estimated her to be around 600 pounds.  But now she was close to the boat we were not so sure…
Luckily the decision was made for us when as we were getting the snooter on her she pulled the hooks and swam away…..

Team Balancal then spent some very nervous hours as nothing was caught that was bigger than our estimated 600 pound fish.  By lunchtime the bite was on and more of the fleet were  getting hooked up with fish estimated up to 750 pounds.

It now seemed as though we had made the right decision and let her go.
Now we had to catch the winning fish .

Irritatingly   fortune did not favour the brave…..16.30 came and the tournament was over for us for  yet another year.  However we decided to keep fishing.  At 16.50 a spectacular bite occurred on the long right and we fought a beautiful fish for approximately 19 minutes before getting her to the  leader.

Thanks to our partners Legend Lures and Pelagic.

For more latest news from Balancal  – please check out the website on:

World Cup Blue Marlin Championship Results

Ihu Nui in Kona, Hawaii lands 773.5 lb blue marlin

The 24th annual, July 4th, World Cup Blue Marlin Championship (World Cup) will be recorded as “The year of the big marlin”. Huge blue marlin were reported in both the Atlantic and Pacific by tournament anglers fishing around the world in this unique, one day, winner take all competition.

There were 133 teams participating in about a dozen countries. Each team fished for eight hours in their time zone looking for qualifying marlin over 500 lb. There was joy and heart break in Madeira and Bermuda in the Atlantic and Kona in the Pacific as the lead changed hands several times.

The first two big marlin were reported to World Cup headquarters in Ft Lauderdale, Florida from the Portuguese island of Madeira. Both were brought to the dock at about the same time. Spanish anglers fishing aboard the LANIS weighed in a 574 lb blue marlin but were bumped out of the lead by Portuguese anglers aboard the LUNA who weighed in a potential winning blue of 665 lb.

Fishing in a later time zone, a fleet of 46 boats in Bermuda set out to take the lead from Madeira. Fishing turned out to be hot for big fish as American anglers on TENACIOUS weighed in a 556 lb marlin, PARADISE ONE brought a 617 lb marlin to the scale which was topped by MEGA BUCKS with their 651 lb blue marlin. However, it was the team aboard the Que Mas who took the lead with their 718 lb blue. Now only Hawaii stood in the way of Bermuda winning the World Cup for the second straight year.

Seven time zones to the west, 42 Kona boats set out for the difficult task of catching a marlin over 718 lb. Hokulie 1 hooked up early in the day and started a long battle. In the meantime, several other Kona boats hooked smaller fish that would not retire the leading fish. Late in the day IHU NUI hooked a very large blue and in the relatively short time of 45 minutes were able to boat the fish and head to the scales. A large crowd was waiting to see if Kona could take the World Cup Championship as they had done 5 times previously, but not since 2002.

The official weight was 773.5 lb for IHU NUI’s marlin. The angler was Michael Corbino of Yorktown, Indiana. The captain was McGrew Rice with mates Carlton Arai and Kevin Shikaki. However, before the celebrating could begin, there was still a battle going on aboard the Hokulie 1 with their huge marlin. Their fish had been hooked about 10:30 AM local time and it was now long after the lines out time of 4:30 PM as the fight continued. It was about 9:30 PM that the tired crew of the Hokulie 1 lost their fish and the IHU NUI team could celebrate.

Their 773.5 lb marlin won the 24th annual World Cup Blue Marlin Championship and brought honors back to Kona for the sixth time. Unofficial total winnings are just over $450,000.


International Gamefisherman, Inc.
Press Release: July 6, 2008

Please stay posted at for updated information
about the 2009 World Cup

Madeira Big Game Fishing – July Report

Madeira Marlin - Big Game Fishing

Our summer blue marlin season is now in full swing.  This year has been a good year with greater numbers of blue marlin around than in previous seasons.  Along with fish of our usual average size, there are currently good numbers of smaller size fish in the 400 and even 300 lb class which is unusual but these smaller fish increase our numbers and have given our anglers, both novice and experienced, some extra excitement in the last few weeks.  Aboard the Balancal we have been doing very well and our anglers have had hooked and fought two blue marlin in a single day on a number of occasions, most recently during the 4th July World Cup when a 636 lb blue marlin that was badly injured was boated late in the afternoon and a larger fish lost on the leader earlier in the day.

At press time there is plentiful ocean life on the island grounds with fin and Bryde’s whales, pods of spotted and bottlenose dolphin, loggerhead turtles and Corey shearwaters being commonly sighted.  Besides blue marlin there have been some other gamefish in the area feeding on the abundant bait including white marlin, spearfish/hatchet marlin and dorado, both the usual schoolies and some bigger fish to 20kgs.

Today (6 July) the first big tuna of the summer season showed up.  This is an exciting development and we hope that they will continue to stay in the area. Read more here…

Madeira Luxury Country House Hotel

Casa Velha do Palheiro - Madeira Hotel

Casa Velha do Palheiro Located in the hills above Funchal and next to the famous Palheiro Gardens and stunning Palheiro Golf Course has launched its new website in four languages. Now it easy for guests to view all the information about Casa Velha and book online in english, german, portuguese and french.

The site was developed by Joomla specialists ‘Navega Bem – Web Design‘.

Palheiro Golf Club video by Brewshow

Property in Madeira

Elegant and spacious villas and apartments located within the Palheiro Estate on the sub-tropical island of Madeira are now available to view online with the help of the newly published website at

All of the properties exude high-quality finishes, landscaped gardens and excellent views.

Palheiro Estate Property on Madeira island

The beautiful hillside location of Palheiro Estate makes it ideal for discerning property owners: quiet and peaceful with ocean views, yet within easy reach of Funchal city centre and the international airport. All property owners enjoy special concessions at the various facilities around Palheiro Estate, including the Casa Velha do Palheiro hotel, the 18-hole Cabell Robinson golf course and use of the M.Y. Balancal motor yacht.

The Palheiro Estate Group was recently awarded the coveted ‘BEST PROPERTY AGENTS & DEVELOPERS 2008’ accolade by Bellevue and More GmbH

The site covers all aspects of acquiring luxury property on Madeira and has large image galleries and links to other valuable sites within the group.

The site was crafted by Joomla CMS development specialists Navega Bem – Web Design and is available in three languages; English, Portuguese and German.