The Water’s Kiss waterfall hike takes you on a wild journey through the region of Rabaçal as you cross the four main streams that run into the larger river, Riberia da Janela. This 10-kilometer hike takes a number of common paths but often detours onto some wild, rarely touched routes across streams and up steep slopes with ropes. It’s an adventurous way to visit Rabaçal valley but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth it.
WATER’S KISS WATERFALL HIKE HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 10 kilometers.
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 4-5 hours because the wild terrain can at times make it slow-going.
Hike Difficulty: This trail has two sides to it. On one hand, many parts of the trail are easy and follow defined, gravel paths with hand-railings like many in Rabaçal. However, when we need to deviate off the path into the trees on the rougher routes the hike became a little more tricky. We had some steep inclines were holding onto trees was necessary. One rope section that was very mild but steep and a section of slippery rocks when heading into the main waterfall. Overall, nothing too crazy but enough moments of risk that you will want to get out of the adventurous side of the bed before heading out on this trail. It’s also important to note I did this hike with the guys from Madeira Lés a Lés, which is a hiking group that does off-the-beaten-path adventures every Saturday. They offer specialized tours through their small business Madeira Wonder Hikes and can take you on this route. Other than with my GPS tracks, you will struggle to find the way with many turns without signs.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 600 meters
My Strava Map Upload: Water’s Kiss Waterfall Hike
HOW TO GET TO THE WATER’S KISS WATERFALL HIKE
This hike is best done with two cars. One car parks near the main parking lot of Rabaçal and the other parks at the crossing of the PR13 Vereda do Fanal hike, where this trail ends. You can view the starting point on my linked Strava map in the hike details above, but I’ll add a Google Map pin location to the starting point, which is the main (busy) parking lot. As you can see from the photo below, we parked just down the road from this main parking lot.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE WATER’S KISS WATERFALL HIKE
Rabaçal is one of the busiest hiking regions on the island of Madeira. With the 25 Fontes Waterfall hike up there as one of the most popular on the island, this spot can get a little hectic for me. However, this day we were doing an alternative hike in the Rabaçal region where we would cross all four streams and visit the famous ‘Water’s Kiss’ waterfall.
We parked slightly down the road from the main parking lot at a spot called Encumeada da Calheta. The trailhead was just behind the railing, with no signs or clear trailhead. At that point I knew we were in for a good adventure.
The trail quickly descends down from the road into the depths of the Rabaçal Valley, where we meet the first of the four streams we will cross throughout this trail. This path is an old levada, which played an important role in bringing water from the north coast of the island to the south coast. The construction of this historic levada began in 1835 and finished twenty years later in 1855. At the bottom of this levada we came across the Ribeira da do Alecrim, which is the first stream to pass by using the Lordelo Bridge.
After the first stream, we join the tourist track only momentarily with a quick stop in at the Rabaçal House. Here you can get coffee, cakes and snacks as well as use the restrooms. We had only been hiking for a couple of kilometers so we continued on but it’s nice to know you could get your morning caffeine hit amidst the trees of the forest.
It was shortly after the Rabaçal House that we veered off the defined trail and began to make our way along the forest track to Ribeira Grande. The trail became wilder with tree roots, unstable ground and some rocky terrain creating a more adventurous path.
Our next stop was to Lagoa do Vento, after rejoining the regular walking trails. After winding down the stairs you will reach the base of the Lagoa do Vento. It’s great for swimming in the summer but be prepared for some icy water. There are lots of rocks around to turn into your picnic table as this is a great spot for a snack or lunch break on your hike. I flew the drone here to get a better look at the waterfall. Keep in mind that during the summer seasons the flow of the waterfall can be minimal but in the rainy season, you will get a more spectacular show from the full-flowing force of the falls.
The other option is to visit the top of the Risco Waterfall, which is right next to the Lagoa do Vento lagoon base level. Take extreme care here and don’t go near the edge unless you are very confident in your safety. The rocks here are very slippery and the drop off the edge will be deadly if you slipped so don’t take any risks you aren’t confident in.
We actually made it to the top of the 25 Fontes Waterfall much to the bemusement from the hoard of tourists at the base of the falls. It felt good to be enjoying our own trail, knowing that the popular 25 Fontes trail was busy as usual below. The interesting part about this spot is that just hidden up the stream and beyond the trail is another waterfall that runs down into 25 Fontes Waterfall.
The intensity of the hike continued to increase. Often we found ourselves hanging on to trees for stability as the soft ground offered a weak base beneath us. We delved deeper and deeper into the forest in search of the ‘Water’s Kiss’.
Upon reaching the Ribeira dos Cedros, the trail took us upstream to find the hidden waterfall. In this section we needed to tread carefully along the edges of the stream or walk through with wet shoes!
After the short trek upstream, we made it to the final crevasse where we would find the waterfall. Two streams travel from opposite directions to meet in the middle of the forest. Just before crashing into the pool below, they meet each other to create the ‘Water’s Kiss.’ The water was freezing but if you are crazy enough to take a dip, why not?
After the waterfall, the fun is not over. We now had to make the ascent out of the valley to the plateau. Our first task was to use the ropes to climb up one tough section of incline. It’s pretty basic and nothing technical but you still need some basic core and upper body strength to pull yourself up the wall.
Along this route are many great viewpoints, where the thick trees part and give us tremendous views of the green Rabaçal Valley. The best viewpoint came towards the end of this hike where we could look back across to the main parking lot to see where the day had started.
The final point of interest on this hike was a narrow chasm in the rocks, which had seemingly been carved out as a passage of transit. It’s truly remarkable and towered over us at almost 10-meters in many parts.
We emerged from the forest at the crossing of the Vereda do Fanal (PR13) hike where we had planted our second car. It was a great hike through Rabaçal, showing us the lesser-known highlights of this incredible region. I hope you enjoyed this guide about the ‘Water’s Kiss’ on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and stay safe out there!
MY AWESOME GUIDES FOR THIS HIKE
This isn’t your regular hiking route so although I’ve given you a map and a lot of directions and advice, it’s best to link up with a local if you want to do this route. Don’t expect too many signs throughout the trail or to find most of the routes on a map. I did this hike with the Madeira Lés a Lés, which is a hiking group that does off-the-beaten-path adventures every Saturday. They offer specialized tours through their small business Madeira Wonder Hikes, where they can tour you on a trail that suits you and your group. Anyway, I just joined the group as a friend but thought you might find that information of value if you want to do some serious adventure on Madeira but aren’t sure who to get in contact with. If you meet any of the Madeira Lés a Lés crew, you will see what I’m talking about.
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