The Penha de Águia hike is one of the most breathtaking adventures on the island of Madeira. Located on the east coast of the island, this hike takes you to the top of a towering rock formation that sits between the towns of Faial and Porto da Cruz. The name Penha de Águia, which means Eagle's Nest in English, is fitting as the mountain does resemble a nest when viewed from afar.
This hike is perfect for those who are looking for a bit of a challenge and want to be rewarded with stunning views. The climb to the top of the rock is steep and requires a bit of effort, but the rewards are well worth it. The hike offers panoramic views over Porto da Cruz and the eastern tip of the island, São Lourenço. The trail then crosses the top of the rock and leads you down into the town of Faial. The trail is a bit wild, but the views are absolutely breathtaking.
There are a few different options for this hike, so you can customize it to suit your fitness level and preferences. You can either go straight up and down to the viewpoint on the Porto da Cruz side or you can go up, across the rock, and down into the Faial side. If you choose the latter option, you can either walk back along the roads to complete the loop or catch a bus/uber.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE PENHA DE ÁGUIA HIKE
The hike itself is not very long, only 5 kilometers, but it is quite steep. The trail starts right next to a bar in Porto da Cruz, called Katrepa’s Bar. From there, you walk through a banana plantation and follow a dirt path that leads you up to the summit. The path is not very difficult, but it can be a bit slippery, especially if it has been raining. Along the way, you will cross a few streams and you will have to climb over some rocks and roots. But the trail is well-defined and easy to follow.
Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Porto da Cruz and the surrounding area. You can see the sea, the mountains, and the levadas that crisscross the island. From there, you can either head back down the same way you came up or you can continue to the other side of the mountain and hike down to Faial.
PENHA DE ÁGUIA HIKE DETAILS:
Hike Distance: The total distance of the loop is 8 kilometers
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 3 hours, especially if you have a break at the top viewpoint
Hike Difficulty: This trail is undeniably steep. It requires some local knowledge for the directions, so it's recommended to go with a guide or have a good map. It's a muddy, slippery track with rocks, tree roots and uneven surfaces to reach the top of the rock. It's for more experienced hikers but it's not very dangerous. The only exposure to drop-offs you will find is when you are at the viewpoint, so be careful when getting close to the edge.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike is 686 meters including the incline from Faial back to the starting point.