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Seixal Natural Pools Guide: Are They Worth It?

Seixal Natural Pools Guide: Are They Worth It?

On the north coast of Madeira, a rock archway made from solid lava stretches over the entrance to two natural seawater pools: the Seixal natural pools.

With just one small snack bar and a small sunbathing space, the Seixal natural swimming pools have some of the best views of the tall, green north coast cliffs.

Consisting of two adjacent pools called Poça das Lesmas and Poça do Mata Sete, these lava pools were formed thousands of years ago.

They are considerably less busy than the Porto Moniz natural pools nine kilometres away. However, how do the Seixal natural pools compare to Madeira’s other lava pools? Are they really worth visiting?

I have also reviewed and written a guide to the Doca do Cavacas Funchal natural pools, one of Madeira’s four most popular natural pools, if you want to weigh up all of your options first.

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. If you decide to click through and make a qualifying purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you – thanks for your support.

History of the Seixal Natural Swimming Pools

Like the other volcanic pools in Madeira, the Seixal natural swimming pools formed as a result of volcanic activity at least 50,000 years ago. 

A grassy slope descends to a blue natural pool surrounded by black volcanic rocks in Seixal, Madeira.

Lava trickled down a valley to Seixal, originating in the mountains of Madeira. It cooled and hardened, forming two large dents in the rock bed. Over thousands of years, the pools were further worn down by the action of the waves.

A natural pool in Seixal overlooks green cliffs on the north coast of Madeira.

The town next to the pools, Seixal, began to grow in the 16th century following the arrival of the Portuguese. Locals bathed in the pools long before they became a tourist attraction.

Where are the Seixal Natural Pools?

The Seixal natural pools are on the north coast of Madeira, between the towns of Porto Moniz and Sao Vicente.

They are in the west side of Seixal, to the right of Praia de Laje and just off the main promenade. The pools are at the bottom of a steep road with a 33% incline, then down a set of steep stairs. 

Walk 20 minutes east and you will reach Praia de Seixal (Seixal Beach), an impressive black-sand beach with a small waterfall and views over the green coastline. It is one of the best beaches in Madeira.

There are also shops, restaurants and coffee shops in the town of Seixal. They are all within walking distance of the natural pools.

How to get to the Seixal Natural Pools

The easiest way to reach the Seixal natural pools is to travel by car.

The bus journey from Funchal takes three hours, whereas travelling by car takes only 45 minutes and gives you the freedom to visit Ponto Moniz and Sao Vicente in one fell swoop. 

Viewpoint over the Seixal natural swimming pool and the Atlantic ocean.

Tours are another option. However, they will follow a pre-set itinerary and usually offer only a short amount of time at the pools to prioritise visiting other destinations on the north coast.

Parking at the pools

The best place to park your car at the pools is in the free parking area before the 33% incline sign. From there, you can walk the rest of the way down the slope.

It is possible to drive all the way to the foot of the hill and park there. However, the road is very steep. It will be hard to navigate if your car is heavily-loaded or not very powerful.

If there are no spaces in the parking lot, there is room to park along the main roads in Seixal. There are also free parking spaces next to Seixal Beach.

When to Visit the Natural Pools Seixal

May to October are the best months to visit Madeira. However, the best time to visit the Seixal volcanic pools is during spring or autumn.

The summer crowds can be intense, especially considering that the lava pools only have a small sunbathing space. The parking area and roads in Seixal also become very saturated with cars. Try to arrive before 9:00 to 10:00 am or later in the afternoon around 4:00 pm or 5:00 pm.

During autumn and spring, the temperature is still pleasant for swimming and sunbathing but the pools are not overwhelmingly crowded.

View over a natural pool separated from the Atlantic sea by a wall.

The north coast of Madeira is typically colder than the south coast. The sun rises in the north and sets in the south, making a sunrise swim at the Seixal pools superior to a sunset swim. 

The sun also sets earlier on the north coast, so don’t plan to stay longer than one hour before sunset.

Bus to Seixal

From Funchal, you can take the no. 139 Rodoeste bus directly to the Seixal natural pools.

Journey time: 3 hours

One-way price: €6

Bus stop: Go to the Rodoeste Bus Stop in Funchal to buy a ticket from the kiosk and ask for the 139 service.

The final return bus leaves Seixal for Funchal at 14.25, so the best plan is to leave Funchal on the earliest bus leaving at 7:35 am

This will arrive at 10:25, giving you around four hours in Seixal to visit the pools and the nearby black-sand beach.

The 139 service begins in Funchal but also stops at and picks up passengers from:

  • Câmara de Lobos
  • Ribeira Brava
  • São Vicente
  • Seixal

You can check the up-to-date bus timetable for the 139 service from Funchal to Porto Moniz on the Rodoeste website.

Tours to the Seixal Pools

If you don’t want to hire a car or travel for three hours by bus, you can take a day tour to the Seixal natural swimming pools from Funchal.

Sculpted volcanic rock forms an archway over a natural pool in Seixal, Madeira.

They can be booked online or at a tour agency office in the city.

What to Expect at the Seixal Natural Pools

Pathway through black volcanic rocks next to the Seixal natural swimming pools.
A wave crashes over the edge of the lava pools in Seixal.
A man climbs from the pool onto a rusty ladder stapled into the wall.

The Seixal natural pools are smaller but less busy than the Porto Moniz lava pools. They have a much wilder feel, with pointed volcanic rocks and an impressive rock archway being some of its main identifiers.

As far as relaxing goes, the Seixal pools have quite a limited sunbathing space. There’s one main slab of tarmac and a few other clearings here and there. However, the pools themselves are fairly spacious – or maybe it’s the fact that there are typically less swimmers to contend with than at the Porto Moniz or Funchal pools.

A slab of tarmac provides space to sunbathe at the Seixal pools.

Just like in Porto Moniz, waves often crash over the edge of the pools. This is, after all, how the natural pools continue to be replenished with water. However, it means that you shouldn’t stand or sit on the edge of the barrier as you risk being swept away.

Part of the wilder feel of the Seixal pools is because there are fewer facilities on offer. There are no huge restaurants or sunbeds for hire. However, there are toilets and a small but quite bougie snack bar which sells smoothies, cocktails, soft drinks and snacks.

A man waits at a small, colourful snack bar next to the Seixal swimming pools.

Occasionally, a few jeeps loaded with tour groups will pull up to the pools, making them saturated for half an hour or so. However, eventually, they will leave to move onto their next stop, freeing up space again.

View of the ocean through a volcanic archway in Seixal, Madeira.

The rock archway is one of the most photography-friendly parts of the lava pools. However, don’t get caught up in just that one area. You can take pictures of the pool from the road above. There’s also a path between the volcanic rocks which has excellent views over the coastline and a distant church turret.


There are a good number of facilities at the Seixal pools, which is surprising considering that they are free to enter. 

The toilets are not very clean. Bring your own toilet paper.

  • Toilets
  • Changing rooms
  • Snack bar selling food, snacks and drinks


The pools are free for all ages.

Opening Hours

The Seixal pools do not have opening hours. They are open at all times of the day.

However, for safety reasons, you should try to avoid swimming in the dark. 

Are the Natural Pools Safe?

The main things to bear in mind is that the Seixal natural pools do not have a lifeguard service. If you get into trouble, you will have to rely upon other swimmers to help. This means you should take extra care when swimming at the pools.

The Seixal natural pools are deep, making them suitable for confident swimmers only. You should also avoid climbing the rock arch, as volcanic rock is notoriously unstable.

Stairs lead to a volcanic rock archway overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

The main immediate danger at the pools is that the algae on the rocks is slippery. This is especially true of the area immediately underneath the arch. Water shoes are a good aid if you have them.

The other immediate danger is the ocean. At the Porto Moniz natural swimming pools, there are lifeguards to keep an eye on swimmers who attempt to stand on the wall next to the pools.

This doesn’t exist at the Seixal pools, so many people risk sitting or standing on the wall or the rocks without realising that rogue waves have been known to sweep people out to sea.

A man stands on a volcanic rock on the edge of the Seixal natural pools.
A man balances on the edge of the natural pools in Seixal.

Don’t be this guy – rogue waves are dangerous.

Don’t sit or stand on the wall. If you’re hit by a rogue wave (which happens more often than you’d expect), you risk falling into the ocean. The waves aren’t as big as in Porto Moniz, but they can still be deadly.

Once you’re in the ocean, you await a risky and long rescue operation including a boat to Seixal beach, as long as someone notices you. The waves and currents are very strong, and people have drowned in the past.

Are the Seixal Natural Pools Worth It?

The Seixal natural pools may not be an all-day destination, as they lack some of the facilities you get in Porto Moniz or the Funchal pools. However, for the experience of swimming in a natural pool with fewer crowds on the wild north coast of Madeira, they are superior. The lava rock arch is also a Seixal signature.

Viewpoint over a grassy bank above the Seixal natural pools.

If you would prefer to relax at a family-friendly pool with shallow areas for bathing and facilities like changing rooms and showers, visit the Porto Moniz natural pools instead.

If you don’t want to travel to the north coast, visit Doca do Cavacas Funchal.

I recommend visiting the Seixal natural pools on the same day as Seixal beach. There are restaurants in the town for lunch.