Sunshine on the water

I’m not much of a sailor but I truly love the sea.  That glint of sunshine on water always lifts my spirits, and calls to mind that old John Denver song.  A warm mid-October day finds me strolling on the Eastern Algarve beach of Ilha Tavira.

The ferry had carried us out from Quatro Aguas, the meeting point of river and the salt water channels of the Ria Formosa.  Sailing boats bobbed alongside, trying to pick up a breeze on the silky calm water.

In the salt pans flamingos still lingered, not yet needing to head south for the winter.  As we cross over the island beneath fragrant pines, the warm breeze rushes to greet us.

Michael spreads a towel.  I wander from beach to shallows, slowly following the sand martins as they dart industriously about.  The retreating tide wriggles and squirms backwards.  Tiny pinpricks in the sand indicate where small sea creatures lurk, clinging on for dear life.  Portuguese fisher folk are only too keen to wrest them from their homes.

A lady nearby collects shells.  “Gorgeous, aren’t they?” I ask.  “Yes, I’m going to make them into a necklace”.  A magical idea for an enduring souvenir.  Perhaps I could try?  I like to think I have an “eye” but I’m really not good with my hands.

Train at Barril

Two days later we have crossed to the island from Barril, using the land train that always makes my husband smile.  The same sea, a different day- urgent waves slapping the shore.

A Dutch family launch themselves with huge delight into the bubbling foam.  All along the beach, castles and sea defences tumble, childish faces both captivated and dismayed at the rampant destruction.   Adults just stand and gaze at this awesome display of power.

Looking inland hazy blue hills rise gently to the heights of Monchique.

Another ferry, small and bustling this time, takes us from the smart new boardwalk at Cabanas across the lagoon to another impeccable stretch of beach.  Hot today and calm enough to lay at the water’s edge as it laps over you.

How can so much beauty be contained within a few short miles?  The images play over and over again in my mind.


  1. hello was looking to see if you had ever got round to posting your walk on Quatro Águas and found this lovely lovely post . . . . . really must set aside more time to go through your stunning archives 🙂


  2. Hi,

    I’d love to explore the Rio Formosa. We keep promising ourselves a boat trip but I think we will need an overnight stopover in the Eastern Algarve. Good point about the flamingos, I’d not thought of them migrating. Will have to check out when they return.



    1. Thanks for reading. You definitely need a couple of nights. The ilhas are probably best seen from Olhao which makes a good and cheap base. If you have time look at my “Island hopping” link. It was written for Simonseeks, a company that’s no longer viable. I intend to do some blog pieces on here of Tavira and locale but I keep getting sidetracked, and it’s nearly Christmas! Cheers!

      Nearly forgot- flamingos! Usually from about June but climate’s strange these days?


    1. Confess, I’ve had to cheat and post the shells off to my daughter in Nottingham. She’s much better at that kind of thing than me and with luck I’ll get it back as a nice Christmas present.


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