Get off the beaten path and stop to see the the rock formations at Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela.
Below is my guide to plan your visit, including:
- Access, location and map
- The village and church
- The beach, volcanic cliffs, viewpoint and sea stacks
- The hikes - Verada and Levada da Ribeira da Janela
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Why visit Ribeira da Janela in Madeira?
As people rush to Porto Moniz and its famous Natural Pools, Ribeira da Janela is often overlooked.
Yet, it has been one of my favorite places on the island because of :
- The sea stacks located just a few meters from the coast,
- The waves crashing on the rock formations,
- The volcanic cliffs and its basalt structures,
- The staircase to enter a tunnel into the cliffs.
Those rock formations are very photogenic!
About the name Ribeira da Janela
The largest of the sea stacks has a small window cut inside it. Hence the name Ribeira da Janela, meaning "creek or river of the window".
More photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips - Ribeira da Janela, Madeira
How to get to Ribeira da Janela
- Located on the West of the North Coast
- Just 5 min drive East of Porto Moniz
- Funchal to Ribeira da Janela = 1h drive
- No easy public transport you should rent a car (see my tips)
- Below is a map to locate it and get oriented:
This highlight (with GPS coordinates and practical tips) is included in my travel Guide eBook that helps you easily plan your Madeira trip:
Plan your perfect trip around Madeira!
- Switchback road but easy to drive, wide enough with protection
- Large carpark
- Not easy to walk on the beach (large rocks) but you can take the stairs to the viewpoint
- Bar not far from the beach
- Great spot for sunrise
Need to rent a car in Madeira?
- Compare car rental prices on Discovercars.com - one of the best customer-rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (remember you need enough power for the steep roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Where to stay nearby
Ribeira da Janela is really small. The main accommodation area is just 5min away: Porto Moniz
- 4 STAR HOTEL - Aqua Natura Madeira, right by some of the natural pools - Check out photos and availability
- LARGE VILLA - Porto Moniz Villa, close to the waterfront - Check out photos and availability
- RENTAL HOUSE - Refúgio do Ilhéu, on higher grounds - Check out photos and availability
- APARTMENT - Sea View Apartment, with large terrace - Check out pictures and availability
- or See best rated accommodations in Porto Moniz
More tips on my article about where to stay in Madeira
Village of Ribeira da Janela - church & electric plant
Ribeira is a small parish with less than 300 inhabitants.
The houses are mostly up on the hills of the valley.
The valley is cut by the Ribeira da Janela ravine. It is one of the longest in Madeira.
You can easily stop near the church Igreja Matriz da Ribeira da Janela and the surrounding square.
A relaxing area. You can see the plantation in terraces. The land is quite fertile.
As you continue driving down towards the beach, you can already see the top of the highest sea stack appearing.
And once at the bottom, you will notice a building across from the carpark.
It is a power plant that was commissioned in 1965.
In Madeira there are only 2 at sea level, the others are at higher altitudes.
The installation is totally automatic and operated remotely. It is using the power of the water stream to generate electricity.
Staircase to viewpoint
Once out of your car, you have 2 options:
- Walking around the cliffs to the beach
- or walking up the stairs into the cliffs
I think the second option is the best way to enjoy the discovery of the area.
See how intriguing it looks:
But don't miss the fascinating structure of the cliffs with basalt columns that have been pressured and twisted.
It is an easy and small staircase, leading inside the dark cliffs. It is quite fun, wondering what you will find on the other side (even if you know what you will find, because you did your research LOL).
A small tunnel has been cut to reach a viewpoint.
Madeirans sure love tunnels! They are everywhere.
It is funny how perspective plays games with you.
From this viewpoint, it looks like only 2 islets, when in fact there are 3.
I really enjoyed the discovery of the cliff and tunnel. However, this is not the best view of the sea stacks.
If your ankles are strong enough, I recommend getting on the beach and looking at them from the mouth of the river.
Praia Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela - beach & islets
So, there are actually 3 islets:
- Ilheu Zinho, the smallest,
- Ilhéu da Rama, the middle sized one,
- and Ilhéu Alto (or Ilhéu Comprido) the largest one.
The islests lie about 200m off the shore of Madeira (650ft), near the mouth of River Ribeira da Janela.
They are composed of volcanic rocks.
The largest one is the most famous. It is 40m high (131ft), the equivalent of a 13 storey-building.
At the top of this large one, there is a small hole, called Window. This is what gave the name to the village, river and valley.
It is actually difficult to see the hole from the beach. But in the picture below, you can notice it. It is the view from the harbor of Porto Moniz.
Praia Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela
The beach is made of pebbles and rocks
It is not easy to walk on it.
At lower tides, some rocks are covered with algae which can create a colorful foreground for your pictures.
Below is the mouth of the river, ending in the ocean:
Old road & view of valley
For another view of the rocks, you can walk or drive on the section of the old road around the western cliffs on the way to Porto Moniz.
But note that there is not much space to stop if you go there by car.
You are a bit higher and clearly see the 3 islets. From here you can see a little section of the Window on the largest one.
Plus, you also have beautiful views of the valley with its plantations everywhere possible on the mountain sides.
The old road leads back to the main circular road around the island and the tunnels towards Porto Moniz.
Hiking Trails - Verada / Levada da Ribeira da Janela
Several hiking trails depart in the area. Don't mix them up! The main 2 are:
- The most famous is the Levada da Ribeira da Janela. West of the river and beach.
- The other one is the Verada, East of the river and beach.
Levada da Ribeira da Janela
It departs from Lalmaceiros, near a small restaurant (few parking spaces).
The hike follows a levada, a traditional irrigation system.
It is 13km long. And you have to walk the same path back.Therefore, you can walk as much as you want to and turn back.
This hike has many tunnels. They start after 3 to 4 kilometers. It is essential to bring a flashlight. And be careful with your head.
However, this hike is a lot less maintained that all the most famous hikes on the island. So be really careful and watch where you are walking. There are holes in the path at one point.
Verada da Ribeira da Janela
For a shorter walk you can do the 1h30 walk Verada da Ribeira da Janela.
It is between the village of Riberia da Janela and a forested area.
It follows an old path that was used by locals to go get wood and also to connect to other parts of the island, especially Ponta do Sol on the South Coast.
Miradouro da Eira da Achada
If you don't mind driving a few more laces, you can drive up above the beach of Ribeira da Janela to reach a viewpoint facing the East.
It is Miradouro da Eira da Achada.
There is plenty of parking to stop.
The well maintained viewpoint offers beautiful views of the North coast of Madeira towards the East.
Things to do nearby
You can easily combine a visit to Ribeira da Janela with other natural wonders in the area:
- The town of Porto Moniz and its natural pools with waters around lava rocks - read my article
- The beach of Seixal - one of the rare natural sand beaches on the island of Madeira with black sand, a waterfall, and lush cliffs
- The natural pool of Seixal with the impressive arch made of lava rock
- And further inland, you can also discover the charm of the ancient Fanal Forest.
Want to see more of the best Madeira offers?
- 42 Madeira travel tips to plan an unforgettable trip - read article
- Where to stay in Madeira - best areas - read article
- 35 best things to do in Madeira - read article
- The best landscapes in Madeira in 40 pictures - read article
- The 7 cables cars in Madeira and their amazing views - read article
- 12 Madeira Hidden Gems - read article
- 4 Madeira Natural Pools (and 6 coastal alternatives) - read article
- 18 best beaches in Madeira - read article
Planning a trip to Madeira?
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