When you arrive in Madeira, take a good look around. The pleasant colours soothe the senses with different shades of green set against an azure sea – the hallmark of the subtropics. But the skies also tell of rain. This is not to say that it rains all the time or most of the time. But it does rain sometimes.
Now that this shock has been administered, let’s start again. Most people who live here find that Madeira has just about the most perfect climate in the world. It is never too hot (although temperatures can get up to around 33 °C when the east wind coming from the Sahara desert blows for a few days every year) and the temperatures average at a maximum of 24 °C during the summer months (July through to October) and a minimum of 17 °C. During the winter, average temperatures drop by approximately 4 °C.
The island is full of diverse microclimates.
The bay of Funchal, protected by the highest peaks, enjoys the best sunshine. Further down the west coast at Ponta do Sol and Calheta, backed by the lower hills of the Paúl da Serra, the sun shines brighter during the summer months, but these areas are less protected from the sea winds.
The prevailing wind is the North Easterly Trade wind that gathers off the Portuguese coast and runs down to the Cape Verde Islands. It brings moisture and large sea swells to the north coast, and often, particularly in the morning, adversely affects the weather on the eastern end of the island between Caniço and Caniçal. However, a westerly wind in these areas can be surprisingly dry and sunny, while the southern and western coasts are duly soaked.
So now back to where we started.
Madeira has lots of sun and a fair bit of rain.
If you want undiluted sun (plus the tranquil features of a lunar landscape) then anything from Cairo to Lanzarotte should just about suit. Those with more mature tastes should opt for paradise.