Portugal; perspectives of the Algarvean coast
January 1, 1970
by Sini Korhonen
A week into our summer vacation in Portugal and I wake up to another blue sky in south Algarve. Our apartment in Lagos is surely finer than our home in Finland, I muse and happily open the terrace doors. The terrace overlooks the communal pool and all is still wonderfully peaceful. Only a bright yellow lilo is slowly floating in the pool with a side-dish of a palm tree shadow.
Breakfast of eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice sets me up for the day. Today I’m going kayaking to further explore some of this magnificent coastline.
Prai do Camillo Beach
My husband and I have chosen a different part of the coastline every day. Every day I keep marveling at the beauty of it. I’d seen photos on-line, of course, but truthfully- the real deal is so much better than that!
On our first day here we walked to the Prai do Camilo beach- one of the small half-moon bays. The view from the top gives you a good idea of this rugged coast line. Bay after bay of sandy beaches separated by sharp, rugged limestone pillars. Tall towers of rock shoot up from the sea like fingers.
Looking down from the top I see swimmers and sunbathers looking like ants on the beach. The ocean is a various shade of wonderful blue and I, feel small in comparison. Cannot wait to dip my toes in the sea. Only 400 steps separating me and my longing of the Atlantic sea.
There’s order on the beach and a lifeguard. Finding shade is hard as you cannot park yourself on the natural shade of the rock wall. It’s too risky because of the limestone that can crumple on you. Now I understand why all the supermarkets and stalls are full of sunshades with various gadgets to dig them in the sand!
We are not the type to spend hours in the sun. Rather I enjoy exploring the waterline and all the little caves in the beach. Always searching for any treasures found on the waterline. As I finally dip into the ocean my gaze rises up on the cliff wall. I see people up on the top enjoying the view and surely seeing me, the ant, in the water. It’s surprising to see how many of them can resist the temptation of coming down. I have to assume the 400 steps seem a too high a price to pay?
Walks on top of the beaches
Still, sometimes it’s just as nice to walk at the top of the beaches. The Atlantic breeze is always fresh and even with June temperatures hovering close to 30 degrees it’s still comfortable. The area around Ponta da Piedade (Mercy Point) is perfect for running, walking or as it seem, track biking. With each step you can spot another un-attainable beach, grotto or natural tunnel.
I spot a quiet row of kayakers one morning and see them disappearing into the rock. How smoothly they slide in and out and never disturb the birds and the peace. This sight makes me want to join in and I decide to find out about a day in the water.
So after my eggs and orange juice in the balcony I head to the Praia da Batata where the tour leaves from. This early the old town of Lagos is still silent. I can admire the reflection of Igreja de Santo Antonio (Church of St. Antonio) in the pools in front of it. The landscape is all white walls, brown rock and blue sky- the colors of this town.
Bright yellow open sea kayaks wait for us on the beach. After a security briefing we head out in a small group. I hide my iPhone inside my lifejacket and hope we won’t capsize. Today I’m seriously annoyed of not owning a waterproof casing for my camera! Still, I’m happy to be paired up with a Canadian girl. We both have previous experience in kayaking and I have thus, increased my chances of not swimming involuntarily.
The kayak slides quietly in the calm morning water. Hardly any wind yet and I realize just how clean the waters are. I can see fish and bottom rock formations everywhere. We follow the coastline and now I get yet another perspective of these rock walls. I can admire the small formations and crevices and before I know it we paddle into the first cave. You have to bend all the way back to slide in- a moment of darkness and then- a cathedral of rock. An opening in the ceiling letting natural light in. How beautiful. Our laughter and admiration echoes inside. The noise disturbs a thousand crabs into action. So sorry small creatures, I apologize in my head! But you get to see this every day…
For the next couple of hours we duck in and out of caves and paddle under natural bridges. My camera sings and I long for my Olympus. Our tour guide has to alternatively remind us to keep up or not to paddle so fast. Our excitement and excellent paddling techniques are getting the better of us both.
One could just sit still and enjoy the natural swell and the view. Every angle is a little different and my iPhone camera is so not giving this justice. I have to remind myself to just breathe and to soak it in. I will remember this for a long time to come.
We take a break and strand ourselves into a deserted little beach with no other access. No crowds here! My idea of a perfect beach when the only footsteps I see are mine! Time for a swim and a wonder around. I haven’t seen rock formations like this anywhere but Krabi, Thailand before. I certainly didn’t know we had them in Europe. It’s also so much cleaner here in Algarve- I have yet to see a scrap of plastic on any of the beaches. Well done Portugal!
After our break we paddle home. It’s easy to give a heart-felt thank you to my kayak-buddy and our guide. This is as close to a perfect day as they come.
And it’s only lunch time!