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Porto Moniz, Madeira; Things to do and Lava Pool Guide

Porto Moniz is a charming little town that is perched on the dramatic northwestern tip of Madeira, a region comprising of towering mountains and views over endless deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, the topography of the region isolated Porto Moniz from the rest of the island, and the town only survived as a fishing port by specialised in whaling, which continued as late as the 1980s.

porto moniz madeira

Porto Moniz is a very scenic town

Today, day trippers and coach tours from Funchal race through Porto Moniz, drawn primary by the seawater filled lava pools but there is more to Porto Moniz, which makes an ideal base to explore this fascinating region. Close to Porto Moniz is the Levada da Ribeira da Janela one of the finest walks of Madeira, and when combined with the scenic viewpoints, coastal hikes and personable ambience, forms a wonderful destination. This guide will provide an introduction to Porto Moniz for tourists who are visiting as a day trip or considering an extended stay.

Highlights of Porto Moniz

The seawater lava pools that are natural filled by oceans high tide, and are a dramatic setting for swimming or paddling in.

lava pools porto moniz

The basalt lava pools filled with fish and sun burnt tourists....

The 13km Levada da Ribeira da Janela which climbs the river valley into the beautiful forested mountains.

Levada da Ribeira da Janela

The view over the valleys of Porto Moniz

The relaxed ambience of the town once the tours have left, either at the lava pools, sea food restaurants or late opening cafes

poncha porto moniz

After three glasses of Poncha your Portuguese will suddenly improve…

The Miradouro da Santa, with its wonderful views over the town makes the steep climb worth the effort.

Miradouro da Santa porto moniz

The spectacular views from the Miradouro da Santa, just a 40 minute steep walk....

Porto Moniz as a day trip or Tour

Porto Moniz is a relatively small town, and all of the sights can be easily seen in less than a couple of hours. The length of the visit depends on how much you wish to engage with the town. An enjoyable relaxed afternoon can be spent in the lava pool complex (see later in the article), a long lunch could be taken in one of the excellent seafood restaurants or a short hike could be undertaken. If you visit as part of an organised tour expect only a brief visit, enough time for a few photos but insufficient time to swim in the lava pools or hike up to the viewpoints. When visiting as a coach tour, part of the allure of Porto Moniz will be lost, as you join hundreds of other tourists taking the same photo or walking along the same footpaths.

 

 

Why spend Longer in Porto Moniz?

The main reason to stay longer in Porto Moniz is to enjoy the town outside of the coach tour time (11:00 -15:00). If you are seeking a calm and personable destination than Porto Moniz is for you. From Porto Moniz the surround region could be explored including; the pretty town of Seixal, the caves of São Vicente, the cable car of Achadas da Cruz, or the pebble beach of Ribeira da Janela.

Porto Moniz town

Thetown centre of Porto Moniz

The Lava Pools of Ponto Moniz

Madeira is a destination where tourists come for wonderful hotels with beautiful swimming pool complexes, but nature has trumped all of these developments to create the finest pool and location to swim on the island. The black basalt lava pools, which are pounded by the huge Atlantic waves, form the ultimate endless swimming pool. These pools are rightly regarded as the best attraction of Ponto Moniz and they are fascinating for visitors of all ages, as they can be bathed (swam) in, explored for aquatic life, clambered over, sunbathed on or simply admired.

 

There are two sets of lava pools in Ponto Moniz; the completely natural pools that overlook the Ilheu Mole island or the western pools that have been converted into a dramatic Lido pool. The Lido pool (Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz) is a much safer location for swimming, especially when with children, as there are no sharp rocks and are supervised by lifeguards. The surround rocks of the Lido have been converted into a terrace, and this is a pleasant place to sunbath. The entrance fee to the Piscinas Naturais is €1.50 and is open every day from 9:00-19:00 (9:00-17:00 winter). There are changing rooms, showers and good facilities for a relaxing day.

Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz

The Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz maybe developded but are still beautiful

The pools close to the Ilheu Mole are completely unaltered, which means they are naturally stunning but equally dangerous. The black basalt rocks of the pools are sharp, slippery and unforgiving if you trip. The common injury is bashing toes while swimming or slipping while clambering out. Our advice, take a picture of the natural pools and then spend the day at the Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz.

natural lava pools porto moniz

The natural, but dangerous pools.....

One of the attraction of the lava pools are watching the powerful waves crashing onto the rocks, sending spray into the air. Though mesmerising it does indicate the power of the ocean, which every year drags one foolhardy tourist who got too close, off into the sea. These freak powerful waves are not just confined to the winter and can roll in even during the heat of the summer.

The water in the pools are heated by the sun and have a pleasant yearly average of 20C (obviously cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer). On the entrance to the Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz the current water temperature is displayed.

Levada da Ribeira da Janela

The Levada da Ribeira da Janela is one of the best hiking trails on the northern side of the island. The path follows the Da Janela river valley as it climbs into the steep hills south of Porto Moniz, and provides spectacular natural scenery.

Levada da Ribeira da Janela

The route is 13km and starts from the small village Lamaceiros (location 32.8512, -17.1665), which in it’s self is a challenge to get to if walking from Porto Moniz. Once on the path there are no demanding slopes but it passes along sheer drops and through tunnels so a torch and good walking shoes are recommended.

Viewpoints of Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz is surrounded by massive hills and these offer wonderful view points over the town and coastline. One of the best viewpoints is from the Miradouro da Santa, which is on the old road (ER101) south from Ponto Moniz. The route follows the switch back roads but the view is worth the effort.

Miradouro da Santa
Aquario da Madeira

The small Aquario da Madeira aquarium is constructed from the local basalt rocks which is filled with local species. The aquarium is housed in the old fort and the entrance fee is €7.00 (adult).

aquarium fort castle porto moniz

The forost walks of the Levada of Madeira

Getting to Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz is served by limited public transport, which is provided by the Rodoeste bus company. The method to visit Porto Moniz as a day trip from Funchal is to catch the 139 bus (departs at 9:00) from Funchal and then the number 80 back (departs at 16:00). For the latest timetables please check the Rodoeste website:

Service 80 - Funchal to Porto Moniz -
http://www.rodoeste.com.pt/Hor%C3%A1rios/ctl/carreira/mid/477/c/6

Service 139 - Funchal to Santa (via São Vicente) -
http://www.rodoeste.com.pt/Hor%C3%A1rios/ctl/carreira/mid/477/c/20

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The day trips of Seixal, São Vicente, Achadas da Cruz, and Ribeira da Janela are all served by the same bus route, which can be seen here:

http://www.rodoeste.com.pt/Hor%C3%A1rios/ctl/carreira/mid/477/c/24

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