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.
WHERE THE ILHEUS DA RIBEIRA DA JANELA
Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela is located on the western end of the north coast of Maderia 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.
SUNRISE AT ILHEUS DA RIBEIRA DA JANELA
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 cloudier day like 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 time near the rock formations becuase 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 seperate rocks. Here’s 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.
ILHEUS DA RIBEIRA DA JANELA VIEPOINTS
There are some incredible viewpoints around Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela that will give you a different persepective than viewing the rock formation at the beach. There’s 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.
The 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.
I hope you enjoyed my guide about the Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela rock formation and viewpoint!