Skip to Content

Hiking To Rocha Do Navio Coastal Village On Madeira

Hiking To Rocha Do Navio Coastal Village On Madeira

Rocha do Navio is a Fajã in Santana, which is on the north coast of Madeira Island. A Fajã is a flat depression near the coast that is used for farming. There is a cable car that takes tourists up and down to the coastal village below but you can also take the more adventurous route on the steep but short hiking trail. The name Rocha do Navio comes from the Dutch shipwreck that occurred there in the 19th century.


  • Hike Distance: The total distance of my hike was 4.5 kilometers including exploring the village.
  • Hike Duration: The hike duration was 2.5 hours but the total hiking/moving time was just 1.5 hours.
  • Hike Difficulty: This hike is quite short but it is very steep. There is some landslide damage and slippery sections on the trail so I would only recommend it to those with good footwear and comfortable with heights and stairs. There is a cable car that can take you up and down if you prefer not to hike but still want to visit the village/Fajã.
  • 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 can be done by yourself but it’s great to have some local knowledge for the directions and local tips. 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 protected]
  • Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 387 meters including exploring the village.
  • My Strava Map Upload: Rocha do Navio


a view of a swimming pool and a city.
a large swimming pool next to the ocean.


The map below shows the exact pin location on Google Maps for the cable car of Rocha do Navio. There is a parking lot here and you can take the cable car up or down and hike just one way if you prefer. The hiking trail is just to the left of the cable car station and quite obvious with stairs leading the way down. From there you cannot get lost as you just simply follow the only route down to the village. Once there you can explore the different paths near the coast and see where you end up!


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


After visiting several other Fajã’s across Madeira such as Fajã dos Padres and Achadas da Cruz, I thought it would be great to check at Rocha do Navio. After some heavy rains, a clear day was forecast so we thought it would be great to see the waterfalls in full flow thanks to the recent rainfall. The plan was to catch the cable car down and then hike back up.

When we arrived to the cable car station it was closed and the locals said there weren’t enough tourists to justify keeping it open. Therefore, we were left with only one option, which was to hike up and down from Rocha do Navio. It’s just a short hike so we were fine with that plan. The locals told us there were landslides and suggested we don’t go down the path but it turned out to be easy enough to pass although a little bit sketchy. The cable car station has a viewpoint right up there so you can check out the view of the waterfalls at the top viewpoint before heading down.


The trail begins right next to the cable car station and leads you down a series of stairs and switchbacks. Occasionally you’ll get a glimpse of the stunning coastline as you make your way down the cliff. It’s less than two kilometers to reach the base of the hike so it shouldn’t take you too long.

As you near the end of the trail down, you will get a great view over the farming village below. The small patchwork fields and modest cabins are scattered throughout the plateau at the base of the towering cliffs. The ocean meets the shore with some booming waves to give this location a dramatic presence.

At the base of the climb is an old mill built into the cliff wall. This was used to produce wine without having to cart the grapes up and down the cliff. There are lots of ancient buildings and unique constructions to notice while wandering down in the village.

Once you reach the village, there are lots of small winding paths to explore. You can check out some of the farms and old houses. Don’t be afraid to venture inside some of the farms and take a look. There is one house down by the coast that is available to rent for a group stay. Usually, there aren’t many people down in the village and the area is mostly used for farming, not for residents but you might bump into a person or two. The waterfalls and cliffs provide an incredible backdrop to the region.

After exploring the village for an hour, we decided to make our way back up the trail the same way we had ventured down. The incline-up is a burner for the legs but it’s short so it’s not too tiring. We stopped off at Quinta do Furão for a coffee and chill session after our morning adventure. I hope you enjoyed this little guide to the Rocha do Navio hike and village.


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.

Gilad J.

Monday 10th of October 2022

Jackson, thanks for this excellent post. I followed you in this hike today and it was awesome. Your post gave me the confidence to do this trail that seemed a bit dangerous to begin with, and it turned out not risky at all and well worth it.