Draped across the volcanic cliffs overlooking the sea, pretty Porto Moniz is most famous for its sapphire swimming pools, protected from the Atlantic by photogenic rock formations and a few artificial barriers.
When you've finished working on your tan, however, there's much more to see and do in this appealing little city. The Aquário da Madeira, or Madeira Aquarium, offers a closer look at some 70 native species and 1730 São João Baptista Fort, built to protect Porto Moniz from pirates.
Next door, the Living Science Center has family-friendly exhibits that explore Madeira's unique ecosystems, while the Achadas da Cruz cable car offers access to less populated beaches.
Porto Moniz is located at the northwestern-most point of the Madeira, almost diagonally opposite Madeira Island's Funchal (FNC) airport, a scenic 42km (26mi) drive through the laurel-forested highlands. If you hire a private car, the 16km (10mi), waterfall-streaked drive between Porto Moniz and São Vicente offers amazing ocean views.
Taxis are widely available, while public buses 80 and 139 run make the 3-hour trip between Funchal and Porto Moniz twice daily, stopping in Ribeira Brava, Serra D'Água, Encumeada, Lameiros, and São Vicente. Car and passenger ferries also connect Funchal and Porto Moniz several times daily.