B is for Beaches

Ok, it’s predictable I know, but how could I have a home in the Algarve and NOT love beaches?  There’s nothing I like better than an amble along the beach, picking up the occasional shell for the collection.  Flat, calm and twinkly in the sunlight, or raging and frothing, I love being beside the sea.

Beach below Cacela Velha, Eastern Algarve

So where better than Portugal, with its wrap around beaches, north to south?  In theory I could walk the full length, starting off in my treasured Eastern Algarve.  Of course, I’d have to swim the odd river.  Perhaps I should take our inflatable dinghy with me- I’m not that much of a swimmer!  Think of the Podcam I could do, if, of course, I were skilled and steady-handed enough to point the video camera in the first place.

No.  Better to focus on my digital memories.  I’m starting in the east and going west, with a few impressions of the beaches that I love.

The beach at Praia Verde

Praia de Verde, not far from Monte Gordo, was one of the first beaches ever recommended to me.  The coast at the eastern end of the Algarve is quite flat so I was surprised at the drop down to the beach from what is essentially an upmarket holiday village.  The bay is beautifully shallow and I’ve seen some of the prettiest fish basking in the warm water.  One of the big attractions is the restaurant Pezhinos n’ Areia.  www.pezinhosnareia.com .  It was much more simple when we first visited and less expensive too, but I would still consider it for a special lunch.

Pezhinos n'areia

Of course, Tavira, my adopted home, can brag of a beach or two, but for the sake of brevity I’m going to refer you to an earlier post of mine.  https://restlessjo.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/impressions-of-an-eastern-algarve-shoreline/

Armona

Armona  This island was a strong competitor for my first post, “A is for”.  It is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before and I find it hugely charming.  It’s reached by ferry out of the fishing port, Olhao, though you can also visit from tiny Fuseta, such is the length of these offshore islands of the Ria Formosa.

A path wends away from the harbour through myriad dwellings, many of them holiday lets, but they have enormous character.  Driftwood and shells vie with the plants in the sandy front gardens.  As you peak down the narrow lanes between them you catch glimpses of the sea and any one of them will take you to the shore.  If you continue across the island you will come to the ocean facing beach- an endless expanse, sufficient enough even for me!  There’s a beach bar here, or if you return to the harbour you have a choice of restaurants from which to look out across the water.

Livingstone daisies cover the beach in Spring

Barreta  Another island.  Are you sensing a theme going on here?  Also known as Ilha Deserta, this is Portugal’s most southerly point, and a longer ride out of Faro harbour.  Gazing down the beach there’s a real sense of isolation here, until of course, the ferry comes in.  It’s not the place to find yourself in the height of summer as there’s absolutely no shade other than the restaurant O Estamine.  Nevertheless it’s an enjoyable trip out with some compelling views. www.ilha-deserta.com

Once you head east from Faro airport, you reach the Algarve with which most people are familiar- red cliffs and golden sand speckled with rose.  It’s just one long glorious beach, backed by a variety of resorts.  Stacks puncture the sand and walking the cliff tops is a joy.  Commerciality has spoilt some of it, but in low season the beaches from Vilamoura to Lagos are more relaxed and it’s possible still to enjoy the wonderful beaches that brought development to the area.

Vale de Lobo

Algar Seco, Carvoeira

Praia da Rocha, off season

Portimao marina with Ferragudo in the distance

Coastline near Lagos

Looking towards Sagres

Praia de Marinha has some great memories for me.  We walked the cliff top to Benagil one Spring day and were caught in a sudden downpour- from blue skies to hail stones, I kid you not!- and back to blue skies.  The scenery was glorious and the fields full of flowers but I’ll never forget the disconsolate expression on my husband’s face as we trooped down the hill to the tiny cove at Benagil, rolled up umbrella in hand.  He soon rallied after a warming café duplo in the beachside bar.

Marinha beach

Stacks below Marinha

Clifftops above Marinha

Burgau  I’m rolling along to the west now, to a charismatic beach.  The sandy cliffs are threaded with agave and aloe vera plants and after a swim (paddle in my case) there’s one of those beach bars where you could probably lose a day or two of your life.

Burgau beach

The beach bar in the distance

Amado We’ve turned the corner now and are heading up the Atlantic coast, where the beaches are wilder and largely untamed.  Small communities sit back off the beach and the campervan rules.

Praia de Odeceixe

Praia de Odeceixe  Oh, I loved this place!  Billed as “surf city”, it was still quiet when we were there last May and the expanse of beach was the equal of anywhere I’ve been.  You need good legs to get down and back up again, but there’s a rewarding little restaurant, Café Dorita, with good shelter from the winds but maintaining the views.  I expand on my visit in  http://www.simonseeks.com/travel-guides/praia-de-odeceixe-cautionary-tale__168002.

I’m still only at the Alentejo border and the beaches roll ahead of me.  There are many more I’ve yet to visit, and I’m sure, many more that you can point me to.  Please do join in, with your favourite Portuguese beaches and the stories that go with them.  Be assured of my close attention.  When it comes to beaches, I’m all ears.

For more great reads in the Personal A-Z series, try

http://juliedawnfox.com/2012/01/19/e-is-for-eucalyptus-trees/

http://algarveblog.net/2012/01/12/a-is-for-the-algarve/

http://wordangell.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/an-a-z-of-the-uk-arundel/

and don’t forget to sign in on http://myatozchallenge.com/if you want to join in.

28 comments

  1. A lovely guide Jo, great to see a few beaches that my family and I love. Burgau and Sagres are our usual destination, and all the glorious beaches (and bars) in between. I look forward to reading more A-Zs of Portugal. Mike

    1. Many thanks, Mike (and for the follow, too). I mostly hang out at the Eastern end but I love exploring all the various coves along that never ending coast. The furthest up I’ve managed so far is Odeceixe on the Alentejo border, but there’s time yet! 🙂

  2. I gre up at a gorgeous beach in Australia. Take a look at the posts called – A Day at Main Beach, Main Beach, my old stamping ground and The early bird catches the worm.
    Some of those shots look like the coastline off Victoria – the twelve apostles.
    I haven’t been to Portugal yet, but I will get there. Thanks for the tips.

    1. I’m often surprised by the similarities of coastlines in different parts of the world. Don’t know why I should be- there’s a lot of world out there! Actually some of our own north east coastline has stacks but that sea is freezing!

  3. A great collection of photos to take us on an interesting journey around some of your beautiful beaches Jo. I especially liked the stacks at Marinha – looks like a good place to explore!
    Looking forward to more of your A-Z posts; isn’t this a great way to learn more about other countries and their way of life? I love the challenge.

  4. Ah what lovely photos – I can almost smell the sea air and feel the sand between my toes! Lovely post Jo and another couple of dozen wonderful reasons to visit Portugal……

  5. They all look very inviting, Jo. I’m looking forward to seeing some of them on my next trip to the Algarve. By the way, could you send me the link for the walk you mentioned a while back?

    1. Thanks Julie- I’m trying hard to remember which walk I mentioned! It may have been from Julie Statham’s “Algarve Walks” book- by the levada at Silves? I’m in the Algarve from 17-24th Feb so will have access to it then. When’s your visit booked?

  6. Beautiful beaches, they all look so welcoming. I get the impression that you could possibly have the whole beach to yourself, so peaceful and unspoilt. We were in the Seaton dunes yesterday, cold and windy, yet it was so beautiful in it’s own way with the high waves battering the shore, the low winter sun giving a golden hue to the beach and everybody wrapped up against the cold. So diverse. Another lovely and interesting post Jo.

  7. Another great blog and some wonderful beach pictures. Portugal has 271 Blue Flag Beaches which is the fifth highest in Europe but measured by kilometre of coastline it is way ahead of anyone else, including Spain, with a blue flag beach every 6.6 kilometres. My favourites were north of Porto where they are spacious and delightfully unspoilt. I have more Blue Flag facts & figures at http://apetcher.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/blue-flag-beaches-2011/

    1. I’m impressed with all these facts at your fingertips Andrew. Thanks a lot. Porto is SUCH a long paddle from the Algarve, but we’ll get there one day- you see if we don’t!

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