This levada hike is one of our favourites on the island. It’s not as well-trodden as some of the other levada hikes, so you’re more likely to have a peaceful nature experience.
There are also some cool tunnels and waterfalls that make this hike exciting and even a bit adventurous.
However, be aware that some parts lack railings and are less advised if you have a fear of heights or if you’re with small kids.
You can choose between a more challenging route on the way back or, for the easier option, returning the same way you came.
Important: confusingly, there are two “Levada do Moinho” hikes in Madeira. One is in the north near Porto Moniz and is marked PR7. The hike described here is called “Levada Do Moinho – Levada Nova” and is in the south near Ponta do Sol.
How to get to the trailhead
The trail starts in a village just a bit north from Ponta do Sol in the south of Madeira. Simply drive into the village to these coordinates.
There is a small cafe here called Sr. João where you can grab a drink or snack before or after your hike. Beside the trailhead is also a public toilet.
While you’re here you may want to take note of the wonderful old church, as well as the small monument dedicated to the victims of levada construction, which commemorates the back-breaking work that went into building the original water channels in Madeira.
Tip: Some of the streets in this village have quite extreme inclines! To avoid these you may want to park near the church and drive the same way back following your hike. The one-way street leading down from the church is very narrow and steep.
When we arrived at the trailhead, salsa music was playing over the speakers around town, making us feel like we had landed somewhere in Latin America. As we went into the valley, we could still hear the distant beats from behind the church tower.
The initial segment of the trail follows an old levada into the valley. There are some sections with railings, but unless you are very afraid of heights, this part should still be pretty easygoing.
Eventually, the path reaches a lovely waterfall where you can stop for a picnic.
While we rested by the waterfall, we got incessantly harassed by a small lizard, who first tried to chew our headphones, then our fingers, and then finally ran off with the tomato from one of our sandwiches. Apparently, the little fella was hungry…
We recommend bringing an additional snack should this hungry lizard still be there.
From the waterfall, follow the signs to get to what is easily the coolest part of this hike. The path will enter a tunnel, then goes through some overhang sections carved out of the rock, until it loops behind a waterfall.
It’s very Indiana Jonesey!
This is definitely a fun part of the trail and worth taking a few pictures.
After this, you have a choice in how you want to go back.
You can go back to the village either using:
- the higher path (slightly more difficult), or…
- the same lower path you came in on
For variety’s sake, it’s definitely more fun to take the higher path. It follows a more recently constructed levada, though despite being much newer there are several sections without a fence, or with a fence but with a fairly steep drop.
We thought this was a fun adventure with some highly rewarding views, but it may be a bit stressful if you easily suffer from vertigo or if you are with small children.
In adverse weather, we would probably opt for the lower path.