Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? We aren’t talking about soggy sandwiches and Thermos flasks at Broadstairs – oh no! Miles of golden sand, warm sea and not a cloud in sight and definitely no drizzle or donkeys! The coastline of southern Portugal differs vastly as you move along the coast and there is a beach for everyone. Here are five, all wonderful in their own way and with unique features. Happy sunbathing!
History and Dramatic Coastline
Cabo de Sao Vicente
Cabo de São Vicente (Cape of Saint Vincent) is a craggy, windswept headland at the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe. The Romans called this place the Sacred Promontory and, if you stand here at sunset, it’s obvious why. The sun appears unusually large as it descends over the seemingly endless sea. The ruins of a monastery, damaged by the 1755 earthquake, can still be seen here. Much of this was incorporated into a Franciscan convent in the 16th century, which in turn became part of what is now the lighthouse. This iconic working lighthouse towers above the cliffs and can be seen from 100km out at sea, making it one of the most powerful in Portugal. The waters around the cape are rich in marine wildlife and there are some good opportunities for birdwatchers here, as well as occasional sightings of sea otters. Something not to be missed if you’re in the area and the weather is not too stormy is the opportunity to linger here to witness the spectacular sunset. Just before the sun goes down, it can get pretty crowded in the car park, so make sure you arrive in plenty of time. As you stand looking out over the cliffs towards the vast expanse of ocean and you’ll truly appreciate the splendour of this historic place.
Ilha Deserta – Faro
Ilha Deserta is one of three official nudist beaches of the Algarve – literally translates as Deserted Island. This island near Faro consists of many kilometres of remote beach and even in the height of summer, there will only be a handful of people. The only way to get here is by boat and there are no permanent inhabitants living on the island. You will find only one building, which is a restaurant. The beach of Ilha Deserta has pure white sand and the water here is exceptionally clean. The nudist area can be found on the western side of the island, about 30 minutes walk from where the ferry arrives and is clearly signposted to avoid any awkward moments!
Praia da Fuseta
Praia da Fuseta is the closest beach to Fuseta and is within easy walking distance of the town and all the resources it offers. Owing to it being lagoon-side, the water is warmer, and the waves are non-existent. It’s a great beach for families with young children and is popular with the locals. For those that are feeling more adventurous, you can try stand up paddle boarding here too. A small restaurant is also on the beach and, during the summer, a small area of the water is sectioned off for swimmers with a lifeguard on standby. A short walk along the beach will lead you to the visit the historic lifeboat station. It’s now out of use but maintained as a focal point for the beach.
Praia de Manta Rota
Praia de Manta Rota is located in the bay of Monte Gordo, in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António, and is one of our favourites. No problem at all playing games such as football, tennis, volleyball and plenty of room for kite flying too! Sunbeds are available to hire. A great advantage of this beach is at low tide, you can walk for dozens of meters in the sea before you are forced to swim, making it the perfect beach to take small children. There is plenty of parking, a wooden walkway to the beach, a lifeguard is always present during the summer months and there are showers and toilets too. Bars and restaurants are easily accessible and reasonably priced which makes this beach just about perfect for a family group of mixed ages.
Vila Joya – Praia de Gale
This is by far the poshest beach ever! Access is through the hotel and you need a reservation at the restaurant or to be a hotel guest to reach the beach this way but as no beach in Portugal is allowed to be “private” people do climb over rocks to reach this beautiful spot and no fuss is ever made. There is a bar on the beach, a restaurant and every facility you need to feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven! It’s exclusive, peaceful, expensive and the ultimate in luxury. Definitely one for the beautiful people!