The Porto Moniz Natural Swimming pools are incredible lava-rock tidal pools on the north-western tip of Madeira. You can swim, explore, snorkel, and hang out on the rock formations and small lagoons at this family-friendly location. For just a 1.50 euros entry fee, this is the best value fun you’ll ever have on vacation.
HOW TO GET TO PORTO MONIZ NATURAL SWIMMING POOLS
The Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools are on the north-west tip of Madeira Island. It’s a 49-kilometer journey from Funchal to the pools, which will take you around 50-minutes on a journey through the center of the island. Porto Moniz is a small coastal town, which is famous for its lava rock pools. There are lots of big parking lots in Porto Moniz, which cater to thousands of tourists who flock to the coastal town on weekends and holidays to enjoy the pools. If you visit on a weekday you will experience a quiet atmosphere but it is a huge family fun-day on the weekends so you will want to arrive early to secure a park.
I’ve pinned the exact location of the Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools on the map below so you can plan your trip.
ENTRANCE FEES AND OPENING HOURS FOR THE POOLS
Entrance fee: I was really surprised by the low price for entering the pools. Considering how well maintained they are and their popularity, I had imagined it could be 10 Euros or even much more. However, the entrance fee for adults was just 1.50 euros. What a bargain. You can stay as long as you like, use the changing rooms, cafe and all of the pools.
Opening hours: The pools have winter and summer hours. In the winter, they are opening from 9 am to 5 pm and in the summer they are open from 9 am to 7 pm.
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE PORTO MONIZ NATURAL SWIMMING POOLS
I visited Porto Moniz multiple times during my three months on Madeira. It’s not just the kind of place you visit once, tick it off the bucket list and move on. It’s a relaxing vibe. It’s where you come on a day-off, a place to recover the day after a long hike or a great spot to chill and catch up with a friend. You can grab a little corner to yourself, laze about in the sun and enjoy the buzz of all the people at the pools.
The first bit of information I will pass onto you about the pools is to do everything you can within your itinerary to come to this spot on a weekday. On the weekend, it is crowded. During the week, it’s relaxing, peaceful, and is filled with just the right number of people. I’ve visited on a weekend and a weekday and it’s a vastly different experience. Both were good but the Tuesday visit was supreme.
The atmosphere at the natural pools is super laid-back. You have all sorts of people hanging out from families, the elderly to young groups of teens. It’s a fun, relaxed vibe. We chose to sit down the far western end, which is a great spot as you have a view down the coast rather than just looking at the pool the entire day. There are no specified seating areas, you just claim a spot that looks safe and will stay dry even if a rogue wave causes a bit of a splash. Most people avoid the outer ring as it is a bit narrow and this is where waves can spray up.
The pools are full of natural salt-water, which is great for swimming and doesn’t sting as chlorine would. They aren’t too many super deep areas but there are definitely many parts throughout the lagoons where you will need to swim rather than stand.
I highly recommend bringing a snorkel and mask. You could use it in the natural pools to explore the lava rock, but the real underwater attractions are just outside the natural pools. On a calm day, it is okay to swim outside of the natural pools in the ocean where you will find lava tunnels and lava-rock chambers just waiting to be explored. Here’s a quick clip of me in one of the lava-rock chambers.
The other great activity at the Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools is the diving board. Down the eastern end of the complex is a blue diving board that is about three or four meters high. It jumps off the natural pools and into the ocean. There is a steel ladder bolted to the rock wall to help you climb up. On a calm day, it’s very easy getting back up but on a rough day with a current, they usually close off the diving board so no-one gets stuck trying to climb back up. Here’s a photo of an old guy sending a backflip from the diving board. What a legend!
Inside the complex, there’s a restaurant with outdoor seating looking over the ocean. One of the times I visited was quite chilly and the hot latte in the cafe while draped in my towel was a comforting moment amidst the wispy wind. The food looked pretty basic with burgers, fish, rice and meat dishes and all you could really need but nothing too fancy. You can also buy alcoholic drinks, icecreams, and other snacks within the complex.
You’ll also find a changing room inside with lockers available if you need to keep your belongings safe while you swim. However, I’m a bit of a people-watcher or an observer you might say and I noticed everyone just left all of their gear and went swimming. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and in this small town of Porto Moniz it seems like an honest place despite being a tourist hotspot.
PISCINAS NATURAIS VELHAS
Towards the eastern end of Porto Moniz, there is a second natural swimming pool also made from lava rocks. This one is a little less modern and has far less infrastructure. The pools aren’t quite as pristine and overall it is much more natural. The rock formations are much higher and it has a backdrop of the giant islet known as Ilhéu Mole. Atop of the islet is the Lighthouse of Ilhéu Mole. I never swam in these pools but they are always less crowded and you can swim and snorkel in them.
PORTO MONIZ VIEWPOINT
While you are in Porto Moniz or maybe even on the way in (depending on your route), you should definitely drive up the winding road to the top of Porto Moniz. Here you can get a great view of the entire town and both of the natural swimming pool areas in Porto Moniz. It’s great during twilight as well when all of the city lights begin to come on.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools on Madeira Island.