Seixal, natural charm between the sea and mountains
Located between São Vicente and Porto Moniz, in the heart of the rugged north-west coast of Madeira Island, the small village of Seixal is an almost fantasy-like setting. The high cliffs on one side and the waters of the Atlantic on the other make this small town a very attractive place for a wide range of activities or simply for enjoying the striking contrasts and endless natural charm of its surroundings.
The cultivation terraces that cut into the mountain slopes, the curious rock formations that give rise to incredible natural pools, the paths that wind their way through forests and waterfalls…discover this idyllic corner of Madeira and enjoy the vibrant nature of a magical island.
- Historia de Seixal
- Rutas de Senderismo
- Piscinas naturales de Seixal
- Praia do Porto do Seixal
- Praia da Laje
- Dónde comer en Seixal
- Dónde dormir cerca de Seixal
History of Seixal
Some say that Seixal got its name due to the amount of pebbles (“seixos” in Portuguese) on some of its beaches, just like the town of the same name in the Setúbal district, near Lisbon, but others suggest that the name comes from a small green-coloured tree that’s commonly found in the area. Be that as it may, this small town emerged in the 16th century halfway between São Vicente and Porto Moniz, at the point where one of the deep valleys running from the top of the island drops down to the sea, cutting through the rugged cliffs on the coastline.
Farming on small terraces that climb up the mountain slopes and into the valley has always been the main activity in the area, particularly vine growing. The vineyards, protected from the sea winds by fences of ferns and heather, cling to the cliffs, creating a captivating landscape. In any case, Seixal has long since ceased to be just a passing place between two larger towns and has become an appealing tourist destination on Madeira’s north coast. A simple place, which still maintains its unique rural charm, but that is able to offer interesting experiences in the midst of a beautiful natural setting.
Seixal is pure nature and an excellent starting point for various hiking trails, especially in the area known as Chão da Ribeira, the deep and narrow valley that connects Seixal with the high plains in the centre of the island. Occupied by small farms and areas where the ancient laurel forest, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is preserved, the valley is the perfect place for a good hike.
These paths between farms, farmhouses, forests, and watercourses lead to charming places such as the Poço do Candeeiro, a small pond with a beautiful waterfall, or continue up the valley, such as the Vereda da Cavaca or the Caminho das voltas a Terra Chã trail. It continues on to the area of Fanal, in the central part of the island, where you can take the PR13 – Vereda do Fanal. This road runs along this small volcanic crater offering impressive views, and you can also take the PR14 – Levada dos Cedros here, which follows one of Madeira’s famous levadas, the island’s typical water channels, to the parish of Ribeira da Janela, near Porto Moniz.
Closer to Seixal, towards the area of Véu da Noiva, a beautiful waterfall that falls directly into the sea, and which you can admire from a viewpoint on the road to São Vicente, another route leads between vineyards and small cultivated terraces that climbs, just over 1 km, from the coast to two stunning waterfalls known as Cascatas do Lombo. On the opposite side, towards Porto Moniz, you can also follow the old coastal road ER101 to the small waterfall of Ribeira da Pedra Branca, another idyllic piece of scenery in the area and a place frequented by canyoning groups, which is a very popular activity all over Madeira.
Natural Pools of Seixal
Back in the village, one of the highlights Seixal has to offer is undoubtedly its beautiful natural pools. Created by small dykes of volcanic rock, some natural and some artificial, which retain the water that enters at high tide, these crystal clear pools are a lovely place to take a dip or simply enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. You’re free to come here as you wish and it doesn’t cost a thing. It’s easy to get here without any problems at all and while there are some amenities for visitors, there are no lifeguards, so you should take care in this area.
The largest one is located next to the port of Seixal and offers a range of services around it, from parking and toilets to a bar and restaurant that acts a bit like a beach club. Two more pools, known as Poça das Lesmas (don’t miss its spectacular stone arch) and Poça do Mata Sete, are located in the Ribera da Laje area. The curious rock formations of this corner of volcanic origin and the turbulent waters of the sea crashing against the coast, which contrast with the peaceful bodies of water of the pools themselves, make them a truly magical place.
Praia do Porto do Seixal
Located on one side of the small local harbour, this beautiful beach stands out because of the contrast of its fine dark sand against the green of the mountains that flank it. From the beach itself, the cliffs that jut out into the water along the coastline are a work of art.
Protected by the harbour breakwater, the calm waters of Praia do Porto offer a good place to take a dip and enjoy the sea while practising various water sports. And as it is just a stone’s throw from the port’s natural pool, you can move from one lake to the other without any problem.
Praia da Laje
At the opposite end of the village, heading towards Porto Moniz and next to the natural pools of Lesmas and Mata Sete, is this rocky cove, somewhat hidden among the cliffs and with a rather more rugged landscape, but which is nevertheless spectacular. More than a place for swimming, this place stands out for its views. In addition, at the top there’s a bar where you can eat and have a drink while enjoying the marvellous surroundings.
Where to eat in Seixal
Portuguese home cooking, fish and seafood, salads…dishes that are unpretentious and honest, just like the village itself. Eating in Seixal is, like everything else in this picturesque place, a simple and, precisely for that reason, extremely enjoyable experience.
The Lounge Bar of the Naval Club, on one side of the port; places like SolMar and Terras do Avô, in the central part of the village; Casa de Pasto Justiniano, inside Chão da Ribeira, and Las Caraíbas, or the seafood restaurant Pedra do Mar, both in the Lage area, on the way out to Porto Moniz, are just some of the options for enjoying the tasty local cuisine.
Where to stay near Seixal
After a long day exploring Madeira’s north coast, it’s back south to Funchal, the island’s capital, to enjoy an extraordinary stay at the Allegro Madeira Adults Only Hotel (https://www.barcelo.com/en-es/allegro-madeira/). This modern hotel, part of the Barceló Hotel Group and having been recently refurbished, is located in the Lido area, very close to the city centre. It offers 124 rooms, a swimming pool, a gym, wellness centre, the best cuisine and great panoramic sea views, among many other facilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Seixal?
The picturesque village of Seixal is located on the northwest coast of Madeira, between the towns of São Vicente and Porto Moniz.
How can I get to Seixal?
Seixal is connected to the rest of the island by the VE2 road and is around a 10-minute drive from São Vicente and around a 45-minute drive from Funchal.
What are the best hiking routes in Seixal?
The area’s lush nature provides the perfect backdrop for hiking trails through places such as Chão da Ribeira, Ribeira Funda, Ribeira da Janela, and Fanal.