The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is a peaceful trail along the levadas where you will find an incredible waterfall you can actually walk behind! The walk only has 150m of elevation, which makes it quite a leisurely trail along the levada. You will no doubt enjoy walking along the path, which is carved behind the waterfall making it the main attraction of this hike.
LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 9km (return trip). It is a loop trail so you start and finish in the same spot.
Hike Duration: The 9km round-trip will take you about 3 hours in total including a photo and snack-stop at the waterfall.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite easy as it is only 150m of incline. There are a few parts of the trail on the top levada (Levada Nova), where you have some exposure. It seems they haven’t finished the fence here and the drop was significant but you have a nice concrete path to walk on so it shouldn’t be of concern. This hike was quite moderate.
Hike Incline: 150 meters of incline.
My hiking guide: I did this hike with a local guide (also a great friend) called João. He’s lived in Madeira his whole life and knows all of the unique trails (not just the popular ones). This trail requires some local knowledge for the directions so I recommend a guide. Want to contact João to be your guide for this hike or any of the hikes I’ve done on Madeira? You can contact him on Instagram here: João Let’s Hike or by email: email@example.com
HOW TO GET TO THE LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is located on the south coast in between Calheta and Funchal. If you are staying in either of those towns, this will be a good hike option for you. I have dropped the pin on Google Maps below showing the exact location of the trailhead. There is parking right next to the church where the trail begins and a toilet so it’s a convenient trailhead. We actually parked a bit further down the hill from the parking lot as we didn’t know there was available parking so we added an extra eighty meters of incline as we weaved our way through the village.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA WATERFALL HIKE
Just before sunrise we set off from the town of Calheta. The hike was conveniently located just twenty minutes from our apartment in Calheta, which meant we could enjoy the sunrise during the drive on the way to the trailhead. We actually parked a few streets away from the church parking lot because we didn’t know it was there but ended up finding a side street and climbing up the hill to the trailhead. It was actually nice to wander through the village at dawn and check out all of the interesting terraces, doors and buildings along the way.
The trail actually begins behind the church as I’ve pin-pointed on the Google Maps location earlier in the blog post. It’s a little bit hidden but around the backside of the church is a little alley that sneaks you off and you will quickly find yourself alongside the Levada do Moinho. There are actually two levadas that combine to create this trail. Levada do Moinho is an older levada and Levada Nova is much newer and is located up above. You will head out along the Levada do Moinho and then climb up the stairs (or gorge track) to join the Levada Nova later down the trail.
In the first few kilometers of the trail, you are following the levada along the cliff-edge. If not for the hand-rail you might be a little nervous but with secure railing throughout most of the hike, you can enjoy the hgue drop-off to your right. Make sure to look back frequently as you will have views all the way back to the ocean. In front of you, the valley between the mountains is quite impressive with a narrow gorge forging it’s way inbetween the cliffs.
While the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hiking trail is quite straightforward, there are a view little obstacles along the way like rocky river crossings (dry), stepping stones, stairs, dirt paths and even cliff-side levadas without railing protection. None of it is too dangerous but I point out these features because you will need to pay attention to the trail as there are a number of sections that are slightly more technical than a paved path.
When you reach the stairs on your right hand side, DON’T go up them. We made this mistake and it means you would loop straight around to the main waterfall. This is fine if you want a shorter route. However, there is another waterfall down in the gorge, which you can reach by not going up the stairs and heading down into the gorge. At the end of the gorge you can cross the dry riverbed and loop back up to join the Levada Nova. You will end up on top of the route where the stairs would have taken you anyway but you will also get to check out the beautiful warterfall found down in the gorge. Basically, it’s a little bonus for those who put in the extra effort to venture down into the gorge.
If you aren’t interested with the bonus waterfall down in the gorge, you can head on up the steep stairs. They will give you a quick workout but the climb is shortlived, lasting only a few minutes. We actually first went up the stairs but then realized we were missing the gorge waterfall so walked all the way around to the top of the gorge, visited the waterfall and then retraced our steps back along the Levada Nova to the top of the stairs.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you are within touching distance of the main attraction on the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike. This isn’t any ordinary levada trail. At approximately the halfway mark of this trail you will wind around the corner to be greeted by an incredible sight. The trail has been carved into the cliff wall as a waterfall pours over the top of hikers as they pass underneath. It’s an incredibly unique waterfall and is why this trail is quite popular among locals and visitors alike. You only cop a slight shower as you pass through the cave-passage underneath the falls.
This is a great spot to stop for lunch or a snack and take in the beauty of the falls. After your pit stop, you will head straight into a dark tunnel. You will need a headlamp or at the very least a strong phone light to navigate your way through the 200-meter long tunnel. Be careful as the roof is quite low so that light will come in handy to keep you safe.
After the tunnel, you follow the cliff-side, Levada Nova, towards the ocean. Below you can see the Levada do Moinho, which you took on the way in to the waterfall. There are quite a few sections on the new levada that don’t have a safety railing and there are some serious drop-offs to your right so make sure to be attentive during this stage of the hike.
The trail will end a couple of blocks up from the church where it spits you back out onto the roads of the village. Simply keep walking down the road it sends you on and the church where you began will be on your right.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM THE LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA HIKE
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike, or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your Adventure Bag on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories and we will repost your Adventure Bag photo to help inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike. Happy hiking!
HAVE YOU READ MY OTHER MADEIRA BLOGS?
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.
All of my favorite hikes: MADEIRA HIKING GUIDE: 60 AWESOME HIKES ON MADEIRA
The best waterfalls on the island: 25 EPIC WATERFALLS ON MADEIRA
My favorite levada walks: 25 BEAUTIFUL LEVADA WALKS ON MADEIRA
Most epic adventure I had: HIKING THE MADEIRA ISLAND ULTRA TRAIL IN 4 DAYS (115KM)
Longest hike on Madeira: CAMINHO REAL 23: MADEIRA’S ROYAL PATH (180KM)
YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT ALL OF MY MADEIRA VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
I created 20 adventure travel videos while on Madeira and some of them were from never-before filmed locations. From hiking in a snowstorm to running on coastal ridges, it’s a playlist of videos you will enjoy. I’ve linked the entire playlist of my Madeira videos below.
WONDERING ABOUT WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA?
Throughout my six months on Madeira, 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.
The ultimate guide: WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA: WHICH REGION IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you want luxury: BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
To feel at home: TOP 10 BOUTIQUE HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
If you want to base in Funchal: WHERE TO STAY IN FUNCHAL: 15 TOP-RATED HOTELS