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Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela: Amazing Ocean Rock Formation

Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela: Amazing Ocean Rock Formation

Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela is an epic coastal spot with some truly remarkable rock formations just meters from the shore. Visitors can watch the sunrise over the ocean from the beach while observing thousands of swallows as they circle the peculiarly shaped rocks. It’s one of the most unique places to visit in Madeira.


Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela is located on the western end of the north coast of Madeira Island in Portugal. It’s 45 kilometers from the main town of Funchal. The journey from Funchal will take you through the center of the island on a 45-minute drive. There is parking just before the beach and due to the height of the rock formations, it is easy to spot them as you cruise into the town. I suggest combining Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela with a trip to the Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools, which are just ten minutes away.

I’ve added the exact Google Map pin location below for Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela so you can plan your route accordingly.


a couple of people sitting in the trunk of a car.

When you book your Madeira Rental Car online, I personally recommend and always use Discover Cars. They search for both local and international companies, so you get the best deal! MUST Read: Guide to Renting a Car on Madeira


Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela is a perfect spot for sunrise with views along the rugged coastline receiving a golden glow from the sun. You can actually see the sun rise directly over the ocean on a clear day or witness it burst through the clouds if you have a cloudier day as I did. You will find a little staircase and tunnel through to the beach from the backside but it leads to the exact same spot as you would find by simply walking along the river to the coast. I can only imagine it is for days when the tide is high and the swell is rough.

The parking is right near the viewing area on the beach so you will only need to arrive in time to set up your camera gear or settle into a comfortable spot on the rocky beach. I would suggest arriving about 30 minutes before sunrise to enjoy the pastel glow that comes before the sun actually presents over the horizon. This is a beautiful area near the rock formations because it can be quite a moody location with fierce waves. You can really sense the power of the ocean. Long-exposure photography is perfect in this pre-sunrise period.

As the sun rises, it lights up the rock formations on one side giving them a golden glow. It’s quite intriguing to see the rock formations from different angles because they can be quite deceptive. From directly in front it appears to be quite a thin spire, but from the side, the rock formation is quite wide and even has a number of large holes or ‘windows’.

From the beach, it is hard to tell, but the main rock formation is actually two separate rocks. Here are a few of my photos of the rock formations while I was flying from different angles with the drone. As you can see, the rock formation looks quite different depending on where you are viewing it from.

Down at beach level, it’s quite a stunning backdrop for photos and it’s not unusual to have a small gathering down at the beachside taking photos and enjoying the scenery. On the day I visited, there were just a few other people at the beach enjoying sunrise but it can get busy as it is quite a popular sunrise spot. When you consider you can just drive to the parking lot, walk for a couple of minutes and be at such an incredible location, it’s easy to see why it is so popular as a sunrise activity.


There are some incredible viewpoints around Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela that will give you a different perspective than viewing the rock formation at the beach. There are a couple that I recommend and one that I don’t! The one to avoid is Miradouro da Fajã do Barro, which is a long drive around from the beach and is now completely overgrown so you can hardly even see the rock formations.

A good viewpoint to park at is the Eira da Achada viewpoint. Here you have stunning views down the coast in the eastern direction where you can clearly see all of the layers of mountains one behind the other. I always walked down the hill from Eira da Achada and managed to get to an unofficial viewpoint above the rock formations, which was my favorite spot of them all. Either way, on your way out of the beach, make sure you stop off at the viewpoint as it is worth a look at this beautiful rugged coastline.


  1. What is the history behind the name of the rock formation? The name “Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela” translates to “Islets of the Janela Stream.” The Janela Stream is a nearby waterway that flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. How were the rock formations created? The Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela was formed over thousands of years by the erosive forces of wind and water. The rocks are made of basalt, which is a volcanic rock that is highly resistant to erosion.
  3. Are there any legends or myths associated with the rock formation? Yes, there is a legend that says the rock formation was created by a giant who threw huge boulders into the sea. The giant is said to have been angry with the people of Madeira because they had not shown him hospitality.
  4. Can visitors get close to the rock formation? Yes, visitors can get a close-up view of the Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela by taking a boat tour of the surrounding coastline. The rock formation can also be seen from a nearby viewpoint.
  5. Is the rock formation part of a protected area? Yes, the Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela is part of the Madeira Natural Park, which is a protected area that covers much of the island of Madeira. The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as several important geological formations like the Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela.

I hope you enjoyed my guide about the Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela rock formation and viewpoint!


Throughout my six months on Madeira Island, I stayed in multiple accommodations. My favorite regions to stay in were Funchal and Canico de Baixo. I’ve created several guides to help you find the right region for you and a great hotel or apartment.

an aerial view of a pool and a beach.


I spent six months exploring Madeira and the nearby island of Porto Santo. These are some of my most popular guides about the region that you may be interested in.