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Marine Reserve since 1997, “Rocha do Navio” shelters ecosystems of great natural value.

Its name (Ship Rock) is due to a shipwreck of a Dutch Ship in the XIX century, the islet appearance is also similar to the front of a ship.

Situated in the north coast of the Madeira Island, in the municipality of Santana, “Rocha do Navio” has a total area of 1.710 hectares, a 100 metres bathymetric line and the coastline extends 6.259 metres, including the islets “Rocha das Vinhas” and “Ilhéu da Viúva”.

The “Ilhéu da Viúva” islet has a natural floristic heritage characteristic of the Madeira coast, where various species of unique plants to the archipelago of Madeira stand out, namely, the Juniper (Juniperus turbinata ssp. canariensis) - very rare endemic Macaronesia tree, that reached one of the biggest sizes known in this islet.


Aerial view of Rocha Navio

The coastline of the reserve is composed of a steep sea cliff with beautiful waterfalls, which can be fully observed by taking a ride in the cable car or a walk through the scenic footpath where cultural and historic data is described.

The management and conservation measures programme of the Marine Reserve “Rocha do Navio” is managed by the Madeira Natural Park, whereas the internal management of the site is charge of the Biosphere Reserve Management Committee for it is part of the Core Areas of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MaB).

“Rocha do Navio” offers its visitors moments of tranquillity and rest as well as a number of activities such as :

  • underwater spearfishing and line fishing;
  • picking limpet and periwinkle;
  • amateur scuba diving;

Line fishing

Culturally the “Rocha do Navio” site is known for being an area of high agricultural productivity. In the past it was in high demand for the population used the footpath to move around and transport agricultural products.


Fajã da Rocha do Navio

The Reserve encompasses a wide diversity of relevant natural habitats, especially the vegetated sea cliffs with endemic flora of the Macaronesian coasts, lower formations of Euphorbia close to cliffs and submerged or partially submerged sea caves. It is classified as Site of Community Interest (SCI's) of Natura 2000 Network and area of conservation priority under the Habitats Directive.


Submerged sea cave in Rocha do Navio

Recently the Rocha do Navio’s Friends Association was created, aiming to divulge and promote this emblematic site with a strong touristic potential.


  • Secretaria Regional do Ambiente (SRA), Madeira Paraíso Natural, Funchal, 2011.