Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz is a town northwest on the island. It is not too far a journey from São Vicente, so we combine the two. This means that when we actually get to Porto Moniz, it is lunchtime and we are starving. This in itself is not the best idea. We park along the seaside, and start looking for a restaurant, but all we see are hotels, cafés with all-English menus, souvenir shops, and restaurants joining the hotels. The real town square is far above us, up on the mountain side. Here, down by the coast, it appears as though tourism has taken over. This is probably the only place in Madeira you will find restaurant workers in the street trying to shoo you in!

Not quite sure where to go then, we go to the first restaurant that doesn’t send people outside to fetch us in. We end up being the only ones in there. Again. It feels odd — it being within lunch hours in high season. I go for the local scabbard fish again (they serve it with banana, which is a lot nicer than I would have guessed); the meal is fine though I miss the atmosphere we find at the places that are also populated by local people.

Afterwards we make our way to what we believe to be the main attraction of Porto Moniz: a pool in the sea among natural lava columns. We haven’t brought towels or swimming costumes, but want to do a stroll among the lava columns, nicely in tune with the volcanic theme of the day.

However, there is a charge to enter the public pool, and we don’t particularly want to pay to enter an area that we will only be looking at. Slightly disappointed we go for a walk along the seaside instead. And that is where we discover the real gem:

More lava structures in the water; with paths around and steps down to the waterside. No charge. And it also seems nicer to swim here, if you don’t mind the fish. It feels cold as I dip my toes into the water, but the cold soon goes away. Children walking with their parents stare at me as I wade in the water among the black lava, some start running towards the waterside themselves but are held back by their parents until they too realise that this is neither particularly cold nor dangerous.

I leave a trail of wet footprints on the path afterwards. A short stroll around informs us that there is also an aquarium here — also geared towards tourists. We grab a coffee among the scenery, enjoying the sun a little, and then jump in the car to continue our journey towards Santana in northern Madeira.

Summary: Yes. Next time I would like to arrive a bit earlier in the day so I could find and eat in the real city centre. But the lava columns create a very special bathing atmosphere – and I would like to come back, but next time ready to jump in!

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