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17 May 2011

5 Algarve Beaches Not to Miss


Located in Southern Portugal, Algarve is arguably one of the most popular beach destinations in Europe. With over 160km of shoreline and over 300 days of sunshine, Algarve beaches are the mainstay of the region’s popularity. To help narrow things down, here are 5 beaches you should consider visiting when in Algarve.

Praia da Rocha, Portimão
Located just south of the main town of Portimão, this is probably the oldest and best know beach in the Algarve. Originally it was much shorter in width and with a lot more charm, but it still is a popular destination among beach goers.

Why Go?
This is a great place for people watching and it has easy access to lots of nightlife and entertainment in the vicinity. There are concession areas where you can hire out sun beds and shades for the day or you can opt to stay right by the water’s edge and enjoy the sea breeze. A broad wooden boardwalk runs the length of the beach giving access to the many restaurants and bars there.

Who Goes?
Pretty much everyone. Known internationally as one of the most impressive beaches in the Algarve, this beach can get extremely busy in the summer months due to its excellent conditions for water sports and boat-rides. But watch out, because it can get really noisy and crowded.

Praia da Marinha, Lagoa
Located near Lagoa, Praia da Marinha is a small cove beach that is nestled at the base of rocky outcrops. At high tide the beach is a narrow strip of sand, but at low tide the adjacent coves become accessible.

Surrounded by honey coloured cliffs and accessed by steep steps down the sides of the cliff, the golden sands of Praia da Marinha in Benagil has two wonderfully secluded beaches.

Why go?
Praia da Marinha is not your typical beach. It has plenty of strange rock formations to explore, caves cut in the cliffs and many rock pools with aquamarine waters harboring all sorts of marine life. It’s not the largest, nor the most remote beach, but the steep set of steps that give access to it put off many tourists from going there. Here you can also head out to sea in a boat trip to explore the nearby caves.

Who goes?
The turquoise sea is a favorite with snorkelers, and the secluded beaches are popular with families and those seeking the privacy to relax in beautiful surroundings. You’ll also find keen photographers who want to recreate the brochure-perfect beach photo.

Ilha da Barreta, Faro
Ilha de Barreta is one of the most remote stretches of shoreline you will find in the Algarve region. This beach is the beginning of the stretch of ‘barrier islands’, separated from the main land by the Ria Formosa. This area is full of cafés, restaurants, and choice of accommodation.

Why go?
This ten kilometers long beach is mostly surrounded by beautiful nature, like the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. Access to this pristine beach is through unspoiled marshland, via a labyrinth of channels. Prolific bird life, including flamingoes and terns, inhabit the dunes and lagoon. You’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere more uninhabited, yet it is only a boat ride away from Faro.

Who goes?
Nature enthusiast and bird watchers. This area has a prolific bird life, including flamingoes and terns, inhabiting the dunes and lagoon that form part of the beach. It’s also good for people who want to get away from everything, relax, and not be surrounded by other beach goers. Be ready to be fried, since there is no shelter and the sun is intense!

Praia da Bordeira, Carrapateira
Sitting on the mouth of the Ribeira da Bordeira, this beach is noted for its rugged limestone cliffs and extensive sand dunes. It is a change of scene from the many other beaches that surround it.

Why go?
This rugged beach features limestone cliffs and extensive sand dunes that spread inland to Carrapateira village and expand for three kilometers long along the coast. You can also witness many of the foolhardy fishermen who teeter hundreds of meters above the ocean, on the surrounding cliffs, to hook their lunch.

Who goes?
Since it is open and exposed, this windy beach is popular among surfers, but other than that, not many people visit it, since it is more a rugged beach-going experience.

Praia da Dona Ana, Lagos
The beautiful beach of Praia da Dona Ana is a 200 meters long beach accessible through a stairway that leads to its crystalline waters and rock formations. It is accessible by bus, car, and even by a half hour long walk from Lagos’ center

Why Go?
A great place to relax or snorkel around the rocks. There is a bar/cafe built into the cliff face, which means you can get drinks and snacks easily and spend most of the day relaxing on the beach.

Who Goes?
This is probably the beach most frequented by tourists, and for good reason. The sand on Dona Ana is slightly thicker than in the surrounding beaches, plus the rock formations make it a beautiful destination. Just avoid it during the high season (summer) since it is a small beach and gets packed with tourists (you wont appreciate it at its best).

There are definitely more impressive beaches to visit and enjoy while in Algarve. Check to find out more about them.

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