Porto Moniz is a beautiful seaside town. While one tends to focus on its world-famous natural pools, there are a few views of the city from higher ground that are simply incredible. One such viewpoint is the Miradouro da Santinha, which is directly accessible from the E.R. 101 road when coming from the west coast from Achadas da Cruz.
Nevertheless, if you have some time to spare, here is a short route (not tested, only planned) that allows you to discover the most beautiful viewpoints of Porto Moniz on foot, its volcanic rock pools and in the distance the islet Mole. The walk in the heights can of course be shortened or lengthened, but it gives a good starting point.
The hike is not necessarily very long, but you reach an altitude of 480 m in a short time, with gradients of +15% sometimes during 1km, so it is not necessarily a walk in the park. The proposed itinerary is 8 km long, but it also includes a short walk to the natural pools at the end of the route, and it can be greatly shortened by cutting through the ER 101.
I start the route at the Igreja Matriz do Porto Moniz church. This could be an opportunity to visit it, it dates from the 16th century and was built by Francisco Moniz, who gave his name to the town. We then head east along a small path to the Vereda da Vigia, which offers us our first view of the city, at an altitude of 80m.
The Caminho da Ladeira
Retracing our steps slightly, we attack the real difficulty of the day, a 15% gradient for a good kilometre, but we are quickly rewarded by one of the most beautiful panoramas of Porto Moniz at 300 m altitude.
The tour of Pico do Caldeirao
We continue our little climb with lower gradients until we reach the Pico do Caldeirao, which we can walk around, I honestly don't know if it's worth it.
The Caminho do Castanheiro
We continue to climb slightly and head west until we reach the E.R. 101, which we will barely take, and then we quickly turn right to head back towards Porto Moniz. We take the Caminho do Pico.
The Vereda do Pico
The Caminho takes us to the 3rd viewpoint on Porto Moniz, at 316 m altitude. The panorama is also superb from this point. You can always go a little further along the E. R. 101, there is the famous Miradouro da Santinha that I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Descent to Porto Moniz
The descent is also sometimes steep, with negative gradients of over 15%. We pass by the Vereda das Escaleiras.
The end of the route
Direction of the volcanic rock basins! We follow the whole coast until we reach the natural pools, in the middle of a small field of volcanic rock. We enjoy the view of the islet Mole that we could observe from the cliff. The last kilometre is flat and will allow us to recover from our efforts.
Why do you propose to walk around Porto Moniz?
I'll be honest, I'm not particularly keen on sitting by the pool all day, so it's just to keep busy, and I noticed that there were some great Miradouro views of the town with a bit of climbing and the natural pools in focus for some great photos.
However, there are more beautiful hikes to do in the surroundings, which we may have to favour according to our road-book:
- Levada do Moinho (PR7)
- The Ribeira de Janela levada (apparently very beautiful)
- The Ribeira de Janela vereda which takes us to the levada dos Cedros
- The Chão da Ribeira valley.