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Natural Park

Nature Reserves

Thanks to its geological, ecological and scientific interest attributes, several locations in the Archipelago of Madeira are designated as Natural Reserves.


They can be found in isolated areas in the Atlantic, such as the Ilhas Desertas (Desertas Islands), Ilhas Selvagens (Savage Islands) (Portugal’s first national reserve), and the Ilhéus (Islets) which comprise the Network of Marine Protected Areas of Porto Santo.


On Madeira island these places can be easily accessed by cable car, such as in the Rocha do Navio Natural Reserve, and the Garajau Natural Reserve, which are just a few minutes away by car from Funchal.


Network of the Marine Protected Areas of Porto Santo

In Porto Santo there are several small islands that are part of a network of marine protected areas, due to their relevance from the point of view of biodiversity.

In total there are 6 islets: Cenouras, Cal (or de Baixo), Farol (or de Cima), Rocha do Nordeste (or de Fora), Fonte da Areia and de Ferro. Visiting these small islands requires prior authorization from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests; Ilhéu da Cal is one of the most visited, because of its history, closely related to the extraction of lime.

Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve

Here it is preserved the endemic flora on its cliffs and on the adjacent Ilhéu da Viúva, potential habitat of the Monk Seal. Access is by a cable car; the ride begins at Mirador Rocha do Navio in Santana and ends at its pebble beach. Its name is due to the sinking of a ship in the 19th century.
  • Accessible by Cable Car

Garajau Partial Nature Reserve

It offers unique conditions for diving and allows close contact with harmless species such as groupers (Epinephalus guaza). It is located on the Garajau beach, about a 15-minute drive from Funchal. Access is by car or cable car, from Ponta do Garajau.
  • Accessible by Car
  • Accessible by Cable Car

Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve

It is made up of two islands of volcanic origin, located about 300 km southeast of Madeira Island. Selvagem Grande is the main island, where the support station for the protected area is located, and where various research and conservation projects for natural habitats and biodiversity are carried out. Selvagem Pequena has several small islands and is covered by limestone sand.

It was the first national reserve in Portugal, created in 1971. The only island that can be visited is Selvagem Grande, with prior authorization from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests. These islands are important places for the preservation and conservation of Macaronesian seabirds, with special emphasis on the Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis).

Desertas Islands Nature Reserve

These three small islands, Ilhéu Chão, Deserta Grande and Bugio, to the southeast of Madeira Island, are a refuge and conservation area for the Monk Seals (Monachus monachus), seabird nesting centre and conservation of rare species of endemic flora.

The only island that can be visited is the Deserta Grande, with prior authorization from the Institute for Nature Conservations and Forests, or by duly authorized tourist boats. In Deserta Grande you can take a guided tour around the Natural Park and dive, or snorkel, next to the beach. The boat trip, from Funchal to Deserta Grande, takes approximately 3 hours.

  • Accessible by Boat