The city of Porto Moniz is located at the northwestern tip of Madeira, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is world famous for its natural pools and ponds by the ocean. Long isolated from the rest of the island due to its geographical location, Porto Moniz is now a choice place for tourists to enjoy the pleasant surroundings and volcanic landscape.
The municipality is composed of Porto Moniz (between 2 and 3000 inhabitants) and 3 small villages (called freguesia), of about 1000 inhabitants each:
- Achadas da Cruz and its cable car, in the south west
- Ribeira da Janela and its valley, to the east on the coast
- Seixal and its natural pools, further east.
While this "freguesia" lives mainly from tourism with its seaside resort, there is a very large agricultural area, a little further south, inland and at an altitude of about 350 - 400 m. It is from these mountains that the most beautiful views can be found.
A little history
Originally, Porto Moniz was called Lugar da Ponta do Tristão (Tristan Point). The municipality was named after Francisco Moniz, who colonised the area in the 16th century. He was also the one who built the mother church of Porto Moniz (Igreja Matriz do Porto Moniz).
Today, there are only modern buildings in the historic centre, to welcome tourists. This was not the case in the 1980s. There is only a replica of the São João Batista fort left (the original dates from the 17th century to fight against piracy). This replica has been home to the Madeira Aquarium since 2005 (and is not necessarily of great interest).
What to do in Porto Moniz?
The place is mainly known for its natural salt water pools: there are two places where you can swim. Please note that sometimes it is not possible to swim, for example in case of bad weather. This does not prevent you from enjoying the natural surroundings.
The ponds in the west of the village
It is in the heart of a bathing complex that you can swim. A very attractive price and everything you need to have a good time: changing rooms, chairs, umbrellas, showers, and even supervised swimming, which can be interesting if you travel with your family. You can enjoy an incredible time in clear water and in a beautiful setting in complete safety.
The natural pools in the east
This time, we find ourselves in a place that has been slightly modified for access, but much more natural, lost in the middle of the volcanic rock and facing the Mole islet. If swimming is possible, the place is ideal for photos and to marvel at the lava rocks. In short, it's a must, and unlike the swimming pools, it's free.
Enjoy the view
There are magnificent views as you go deeper into the island to the south. If you take a little height, you will find yourself with a sublime panorama of Porto Moniz. You can also take a short walk in the seaside area. I suggest a short walk around Porto Moniz from the heights, offering a spectacular view of the city. The route is about 8 km long, but it can be shortened or lengthened depending on your needs.
> Discover all the things to do in and around Porto Moniz.
Also in the vicinity of Porto Moniz:
A must-see is the Ribeira da Janela Valley near Porto Moniz to discover one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Madeira Island: the Ribeira de Janela Levada, 13 km long that takes us into the valley with beautiful scenery. Many tunnels await us, on the mountainside, but also to get into the heart of the Laurisilva forest. There is also the Levada do Moinho, which starts near Porto Moniz and goes down to the south of the island (the route is in the opposite direction to the river).
It is also possible to have a good time at Achadas da Cruz and its cable car which will take you to the ocean level. A breathtaking descent to the Fajã de Quebrada Nova.
How to get to Porto Moniz?
To get to the North West tip of Madeira Island it takes about 50 minutes from Funchal. First you have to cross the centre of the island to reach São Vicente. Then you use the famous gold route, the last tunnels of which were built after the Second World War. I explain everything in this article: how to get to Porto Moniz.
When to visit Porto Moniz?
Like the rest of the Madeira archipelago, you can visit and holiday in Porto Moniz all year round. If you really want to enjoy swimming and bathing in this idyllic setting, you may want to avoid the winter months when the water may be a bit cold and the rainy season. Of course, the water will be warmest in the summer, but beware of the tourist crowds, but it is still largely possible in the spring and autumn due to the subtropical climate. In this respect, I have read that the tourist buses arrive between 11 and 3 pm. A detail that is important: outside these hours the city is quite quiet.
Where to eat and relax?
Most of the restaurants, cafes and bars are located in the seaside area. This is clearly shown on the map below. Outside this area, there are few establishments. See the list of restaurants and bars in the area.