Porto Moniz, a treasure trove of surprises in the north of Madeira
Located on the north-western tip of Madeira Island, the town of Porto Moniz is a treasure trove of surprises. Nestled between the sea and the mountains, this corner of undeniable rural charm offers all kinds of possibilities related to its unique nature. These range from taking a refreshing dip in its iconic natural pools to enjoying the views from the spectacular viewpoints overlooking the sea from the top of the cliffs, hiking and mountain biking routes, diving excursions, beaches to do some surfing on, and some ideal places for canyoning lovers. A large leisure park surrounded by the sea and the lush laurel forests of Madeira.
The gastronomy, popular festivals, such as the famous Semana do Mar at the end of July, the municipality’s rich cultural heritage and rural charm, as well as that of the neighbouring parishes of Santa, Levada Grande, Ribeira da Janela and Seixal (link to Seixal), among many others, all make Porto Moniz a destination that’s certainly worth a visit.
- Historia de Porto Moniz
- Piscinas naturales de Porto Moniz
- Fuerte de São João Baptista
- Mirador da Santinha o Mirador de la Santa
- Dónde dormir en Madeira
History of Porto Moniz
One of the oldest parishes in the northern region of Madeira and the most remote on the island, Porto Moniz emerged in the second half of the 16th century, barely a century after the beginning of the Portuguese colonisation of the archipelago. It was a settlement dedicated to cattle farming, cereal production, timber extraction and, later on, to vine growing and whaling, two activities that have been key to the development of this Portuguese archipelago.
The church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, dating from the late 17th century, the Fort of São João, on one side of the harbour, and the church of Santa Maria Magdalena, one of the oldest churches on the north coast of Madeira, located in the neighbouring parish of Santa, are just some of the witnesses to the vast history of this picturesque municipality.
Natural pools of Porto Moniz
The rugged landscape of Porto Moniz gives rise to its main attractions, including, of course, its spectacular natural pools. Bordered by the volcanic rock that characterises the north coast of Madeira and flooded with crystal-clear seawater, these unique areas offer an extraordinary point to get in touch with the area’s nature and a very appealing option to enjoy it.
Located in the area of the Madeira Aquarium and the harbour, opposite the Mole islet, the pools known as Piscinas Naturais do Cachalote, are one of the best-known sights in Porto Moniz. Framed by unusual rock formations and barely touched by artificial barriers, these open access pools are, above all, a true natural spectacle.
At the other end of the promenade, the Natural Pools of Porto Moniz are the largest and best known natural saltwater pools in Madeira. Across its nearly 8,000 m2 of space, including a solarium and areas for swimming, they form a large spa with all the necessary tourist services, including a pool and children’s playground, disabled access and parking to changing rooms, lockers to store personal belongings, a beach bar open during the summer season, first aid, and sun loungers and parasols for hire. These pools are open all year round and require a nominal entry fee.
Fort of São João Baptista
Rebuilt in the late 1990s from the remains of the original fort, dating from 1730, this is one of Porto Moniz’s most iconic historical sites. Located next to the harbour breakwater, on the most exposed part of the town’s seafront, the old fortification was built primarily to ward off pirate attacks, which were frequent at the time.
Today, the renovated defensive bastion of São João houses the Madeira Aquarium, a modern and interesting facility in which over 90 species live together in a dozen themed tanks of varying sizes. They represent the rich biodiversity of the Archipelago of Madeira and, in general, of the islands of Macaronesia, which includes, in addition to Madeira, the Azores, the Savage Islands, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. In any case, this is a lovely experience for the whole family.
With the high mountains that dominate the north coast of Madeira behind it, one of the most special attractions in Porto Moniz is its group of spectacular viewpoints. Natural windows located in different parts of the parish, they open out to the sea and the island’s lush coastal strip, outlined by huge cliffs and narrow farming terraces that seem to defy gravity.
The Miradouro do Pico, the Miradouro do Redondo, the Miradouro da Pedra Mole, and the Miradouro do Pico da Assumada are exceptional viewpoints from which you can discover the unparalleled charm of this area of Madeira. As is the Miradouro da Santinha or Santinha Viewpoint, located on the winding road (ER101) that links the coast with the upper part of the island. This viewpoint is possibly the one that offers the best panoramic views of the village, the Mole islet, and the famous natural pools of Porto Moniz.
Where to stay in Madeira
Enjoy a perfect stay in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, by staying at the Allegro Madeira Adults Only Hotel (https://www.barcelo.com/en-es/allegro-madeira/), which belongs to the Barceló Hotel Group. Located in the Lido area, very close to the city’s main attractions, this modern four-star adults only hotel offers everything you need to spend a magical few days, from its 124 fully equipped rooms to its swimming pool, wellness centre, gym, and the most exquisite snacks. And some stunning panoramic views to top this all off.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get to Porto Moniz
The town of Porto Moniz is connected to the rest of Madeira Island by the VE2 road; it's around a 20-minute drive from São Vicente and just under an hour from Funchal.
What are the natural pools of Porto Moniz like?
Framed by spectacular volcanic rock formations, the natural pools of Porto Moniz are a perfect place to spend the day swimming, relaxing, and enjoying the sun and the sea.
Where should I eat in Porto Moniz?
Enjoy the delicious cuisine of the area in places like the Sea View and Orca restaurants, next to the Natural Pools; like Cachalote and Vila Baleia, in the Aquarium area; like Conchinha, Mar à Vista, and Dom Peixe, among other places located along the Porto Moniz seafront.