The Lagoa do Vento hike is a beautiful short hike in Rabaçal with a beautiful waterfall and lagoon. It’s only 3.3 kilometres one way to get to the waterfall, so Lagoa do Vento is a perfect hike for young and old. You can swim in the lagoon at the base of the waterfall, but be prepared for the cold mountain water! The area around the lagoon is perfect for a lunch break and the trail is well maintained and signposted because it’s located in one of the most popular hiking areas of Madeira Island. It will take you about 2-3 hours in total to finish the Lagoa do Vento hike depending on your speed and the total time of breaks. In this compete guide you will find all the information you need! 

Lagoa do Vento key facts  

Before setting off to the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike, below some key facts! 

Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike is 7 kilometres out and back. This will take you about 2 – 3 hours depending on your walking speed and the time you spend relaxing at the lagoon. You can easily combine the Lagoa do Vento hike with Levada do Alecrim which are both connected via the same trail. 

Hike difficulty and incline: The Lagoa do Vento hike is not very difficult and only has an incline of about 300 meters. This consists of winding natural stairs through the forest. The overall trail is clearly marked and doesn’t has scary drop offs or other moments of danger. Because most of the trail is on natural soil, it can be slippery in the forest part after rain. But as with every hike in Madeira, put on your hiking shoes and you will be fine. 


How to get to Lagoa do Vento

The start of the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike is in the popular Rabaçal area where many hiking trail starts. It can be busy here, especially during the summer months when many tourists are visiting Madeira islands. Best advice to have a quiet nature experience is to start the hike as early as possible. 

The Lagoa do Vento trail starts at the same parking lot as the popular levada walks 25 Fontes and Alecrim. But to find the trail of Lagoa do Vento you should not follow the main driveway but only walk a little further to the lower end of the parking lot. There is a small trail on the right that veers into the bushes.

Best time to do the Lagoa do Vento hike

During the summer months you can expect the waterfalls in Madeira to be drier and less powerful than after some rainy weeks. We have visited Lagoa do Vento two times, once in August when the waterfall was almost dried up and another time in December after some heavy weeks of rain. It was a completely different experience! So to set the right expectation, you have to take into account that in the summer months there is probably only a trickle of waterfall, while during the winter months it will be a real waterfall splashing into the lagoon. In those circumstances it is not recommend to swim in the lagoon as the spray will be too powerful and a little dangerous. 

In terms of the best time of the day to do the Lagoa do Vento hike, you can best start as early as possible. Then you will have the highest chance of having the waterfall for yourself for the most relaxing nature experience. 

What to expect during the Lagoa do Vento hike

The trail of Lagoa do Vento starts at the lower end of the parking lot and veers into the bushes on the right hand. You will see Lagoa do Vento signposted on the wooden board. Here you will join the levada on a narrow but straightforward path. Stay focused on this part because the rocks where the path is made of are all at uneven sizes and heights making it easy to trip or roll your ankle. Along the trail you will see beautiful ferns, wildflowers and trees. 


The first interesting part of this walk is where you encounter some stairs with a levada waterslide next to it. At this part of the Lagoa do Vento hike you can continue towards the Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall which is the end point of Levada do Alecrim hike. This is only a short detour and therefore you can easily combine these two hikes on the same day. You will see Levada do Alecrim signposted on the red and yellow sign saying only one more kilometer. So if you decide on doing this, you will only add 2 kilometres of flat walking in total to the Lagoa do Vento hike. This will be about 30-45 minutes extra to your overall hiking time. After visiting the Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall you simply return to this intersection and then continue towards Lagoa do Vento.


Lagoa do Vento waterfall 

The part down to Lagoa do Vento goes through the forest with natural stairs. You might not notice the height of the stairs until you return to the parking lot. The climb up is definitely more challenging then the way down! 


After only 3.3 kilometres, which is 5.3 when you did a visit to Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall before, you will reach the bottom of Lagoa do Vento. Here you can admire the beautiful lush surroundings and high waterfall. If you want to cool off, you can take a dip in the lagoon, but be prepared for ice cold mountain water! It is also possible to go behind the Lagoa do Vento waterfall, but only in the summer season when the spray of the waterfall isn’t too powerful.


All the rocks around the lagoon are great to sit and relax and to use as picnic table. You can easily spend a few hours here if you want to. Atiba flew the drone to get a better perspective of the waterfall. This gives a great view on the connecting stream to Risco waterfall. From the sky you can see how many waterfalls there are in this area! The Lagoa do Vento waterfall feed Risco waterfall which is right underneath it. So it also makes sense that the Levada das 25 Fontes is below Lagoa do Vento. 


On this drone picture you can see Risco waterfall with Lagoa do Vento waterfall right above


This is Lagoa do Vento waterfall seen from an aerial perspective

Rabaçal valley viewpoint

You can also stand at the top of Risco waterfall which is directly on the opposite of Lagoa do Vento. You just have to follow the stream with Lagoa do Vento in your back and you will get to the beginning of where Risco waterfall falls down along the rocks. Here you will have beautiful panoramic views over the Rabaçal valley. But take extreme care here as the rocks can be slippery, especially during rainy season. 


More hikes nearby

If you’re planning on doing a few more hikes in the close area of Lagoa do Vento then you can choose from many options. The Rabaçal valley is packed with great levada walks. And from the parking lot where you will start this hike there are a few more options. Combine it with Levada do Alecrim for example, or add Levada das 25 Fontes to your workout.

Another option is to drive a bit further to the Fanal Forest area. Here you can do the Vereda do Fanal hike, but also the beautiful Levada dos Cedros waterfall hike.


What is a Levada?

If you’re coming to Madeira for the first time, you might question what the word ‘Levada’ actually means. This word is used a lot to specify the different Madeira hiking trails. But what is the origin of these Levadas and what is their purpose? 

Levadas are little canals of water that wind through the mountains and translates as “carriageway”. These water canals are irrigation systems developed to distribute water from the wetter regions on the north of Madeira to the drier and sunnier areas of the south where lots of plantations are located. The levadas cover a total distance of about 2500 kilometer from the heart of the Laurissilva forest to the most rocky slopes.

The origin of the levadas dates back to the 15th century. The first levadas where then created to provide water to irrigate the sugarcane plantations. Back then sugar was also known as the “white gold” because it was considered as the main engine of Madeira’s economy in the 15th & 16th century. The narrow water canals have ever since the important task to deliver water along far distances. Mainly to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, as well as to hydro-electric power stations on the island.

But nowadays, the levadas are also a great way to discover Madeira’s stunning nature with landscapes and species of flora and fauna that are unique in the world.