From Cape St.Vincent to the beach: tour around Algarve.
by Maggie Gebicka
It was some time at the end of February. It was cold and dark here in the United Kingdom so we decided to escape to Portugal for a week. We managed to find cheap flights from Edinburgh to Algarve, leaving at the end of March. A few years ago, I went to a surf camp in Algarve and absolutely loved it. There were places I wanted to visit again and take my boyfriend to. There were beaches I have not been to before. We also wanted to do a little bit of surfing. Some of the beaches are very secluded so we hired a car for our trip. For the first night, we stayed in Faro. As we love nature, we purchased a Birdwatching guide to Algarve.
Drive to Sagres
On the second day, we drove towards Sagres. We stopped in Luz. The beach there is beautiful, see the picture below.
However, having spotted a pub selling ‘ All day British breakfast’ we decided that this is not really our sort of place, as we love exploring local culture and food. We continued driving. We stopped at a supermarket Apolonia, which is part of a new chain, a sort of upmarket store, similar to British Waitrose. We bought some local specialities; cheese, bread and various types of olives and drove to Burgau where we stopped for lunch on the beach. From there, we drove to Sagres. We stayed at Memmo Baleeira Hotel, which was overlooking the fishing harbour.
After unpacking our stuff, we went for a walk in the harbor. Then, we drove to have a look at Fortaleza de Sagres, a maritime defense system, which protected Portugal from enemies. From there, we went back to the hotel to take advantage of the Spa. Since we were quite tired after the journey, we decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant. I had an amazing fish soup and an octopus risotto. Breakfast the next day was even better, as there was something for everyone: a full cooked breakfast and a continental buffet with a great selection of fruit.
From Sagres to Cape St.Vincent
Well fed and hydrated, we drove to Cape St. Vincent. It is not far to get there from Sagres, it is only 6.8 km and it is a nice drive. Even if it is not on your way, you should go there, it is well worth the visit. Cape St.Vincent is the most southwestern point of Europe, which makes it really special. The cliffs are spectacular. They really make you appreciate the power of nature. When you get there, there is a free car park for the visitors. You can also get yourself a souvenir made of cork. My boyfriend got himself a cork hat, the one on the picture below.
Algarve is famous for its cork production, there is a lot of oak cork trees growing there. With boyfriend prepared for the blazing sun, we went to visit the lighthouse. It operates since the 19-th century and it is built in place of a 16th-century Franciscan convent. There is a little museum which is worth a visit if you are interested in maritime history. After the museum, we continued appreciating the cliffs and taking photos. It was sunny but windy and I had to make sure I would not get blown away!
From Cape St.Vincent to Carrapateira
From Cape St.Vincent, we headed north to Carrapateira. The roads in Algarve are generally well signed – posted and modern. We got everywhere without problems, even though the hired car did not have a Sat-nav and we did not want to use our phones due to roaming charges for a mobile network. Carrapateira is a little village where I went to a surf camp seven years before. When we got there, we went straight to Amado beach.
It is one of Portugal’s finest surfing spots, pictured below. Last time I went there it was July and the beach was full of surfers and tourists. This time, out of season there was hardly anybody on the beach. When we got to Carrapateira, we did not have accommodation pre-booked for that night, so we had to find somewhere on the spot. Sometimes it makes it more exciting, having to find the accommodation without pre-booking it. Having walked around for a bit, we eventually found a place for 40 euros/ per night. It was called a Bamboo House and it was lovely. The owners stayed in the same house and they were always ready if we needed anything.
The beach life
Once we unpacked our stuff, we went to Bodeira beach, which is less than 10 minutes walk. To get there we crossed the Carrapateira river, which, going through the beach adds to the uniqueness of this little village. There were a few people on the beach but it still felt pretty remote when compared to other beaches in Algarve. After some time on the beach, we wanted to walk around the nature reserve, so we crossed the river again.
Now it was a bit harder; as the tide was coming in, the level of the river was getting higher. After this few kilometres long walk, we enjoyed vino Verde in the garden by the apartment. There is nothing better to suppress your thirst on a warm Portuguese day. It is lower in alcohol content than your usual Pinot Grigio. Then, we had a meal at a local restaurant five minutes walk away. We got to try a traditional Portuguese starter, which is a kind of a sea snail. It reminded us of sea snails which people were picking on a beach in Marocco. After all, this is also a part of the eastern- Atlantic coast. The next day we packed our stuff and went back to Amado beach. The waves were quite high for us. We are casual surfers, it is something we do occasionally, usually on holidays. No matter how experienced you are at surfing, Amado beach is definitely one of the best surfing beaches in the area. You can hire the surfing equipment on the beach. It cost us 30 euros per person per day to hire a board. Make sure that you bring snacks and water with you if you are travelling out of season, as the bars are closed. After a couple of hours of surfing, we became really hungry so we went for lunch at a restaurant at the top of the hill. You can’t miss it, there is only one! The view from the top is worth spending a few more euros. Having eaten a massive plate of sardines, I was ready for more surfing. However, this time, the waves were far too high for us. So we returned the boards, packed up and headed further up the coast to the next beach.