A beach stroll in Albufeira

By | Category: Travel destinations

Praia do Castelo

Albufeira is one of the most popular destinations in the Algarve for British holidaymakers.

Attracting visitors for the golfing as well as the beaches, the Algarve is primarily seen as a beach destination and no wonder, given that there are 200kilometres of largely sandy beaches available for the millions that holiday there each year from not just the UK but Ireland, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and France.

In just the Albufeira region there are twenty beaches and on an average holiday of 10-14 days it is unlikely that holidaymakers will explore every one of them. Here are a few suggestions for beaches you might seek out.

Praia do Costelo is a blue-flag beach that caters for almost everyone. Cliffs overlook the beach which combines rocky outcrops and sandy stretches some of which are partially shaded by the tall pine trees. As with nearly all beaches on the Algarve, lifeguards patrol the beaches in summer. Scuba diving is a common pursuit because of the clear waters, the many coves and the sea- covered outcrops that attract a variety of fish. Other wildlife includes falcons flying above you and cormorants with outstretched wings sunning themselves on the rocks.

The cliff tops provide a number of walks but, because of coastal erosion, walkers should stick to the paths and not go near the edge. There are parking facilities close to the beach but because you will need to walk down steps, this beach isn’t accessible for everyone.

Praia da Rocha baixinha Nascente

Praia dos Pescadores, or fisherman’s beach as it translates, and Praia do Peneco are virtually one and the same since they merge into each other. That there is a lift from the cliff top down to Peneco indicates how popular it is and, in the height of summer, it can get crowded. The alternative is the steepish stone steps which fisherman took to get to their fishing boats in days gone by. The popularity of these beaches is due to their accessibility, the long and wide expanse of sand as well as the fact that it is very convenient for those staying in the centre of Albufeira.

Praia da Rocha Baixinha Nascenta (meaning cliff rock beach) but also known by some as tomato beach (Praia dos Tomates) is a long and wide sandy beach at the base of cliffs to the east of Albufeira which stretches to the marina at Vilamoura. Apart from the attraction of the blue flag beach (which is split into east and west sections) the dunes shaped by the winds and erosion appeal. Forming part of the environmental importance the dunes (part of the Vilamoura Environmental Park) are fenced off and you should only use the paths to make your way to the beach. The park is the habitat of many water birds and, if you are very lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the otters. There is also a flooded area called the Vilamoura Reed Plantation making this beach quite unlike many you will see.

Praia do Barranco das Belharucas

Praia da Falésia is a continuation of the Praia da Rocha Baixinha Nascenta and lasts for a further six kilometres bringing you back to Albuefira. A very popular beach because of the sand, the cliff face is etched with gullies caused by erosion and rain. It surprises some that, even being so close to Albufeira, that you can find quiet spots if you don’t mind walking along towards  Praia da Rocha Baixinha Nascenta as many holidaymakers stick close to the city end.

Continuing along past the marina, you reach the four mile long beach called Praia do Barranco das Belharucas, the beach of the bee-eaters. Look up and you will see bee-eaters and other birds nesting in the cliff side and on top in the pine trees.

Praia dos Olhos-d’Água is the beach for the small village that bears the same name. The fishing village draws visitors because of its picturesque nature and the freshwater springs. Consequently and because the beach is quite small it gets very crowded in the busy months. An early morning or evening visit might be the best option unless you are staying in the village. It does mean that it is only a short walk from your sunbathing to any number of corner cafes and restauarants.

returning a turtle to the sea. Image © Zoomarine

The beach furthest to the east but still in the Albufeira region is Praia dos Salgados. Whilst it is fine to swim off the beach it is not recommended to swim in the Salgados Lagoon which is a shallow salt marsh and where the Espiche brook or stream reaches the sea. Here, over sixty different bird species can be seen and it is an important stopping over place for migratory birds. After you have finished watching the birds and enjoying the beach you can always pop a little inland to Zoomarine in Guia, a water park of especial appeal to families. It also has a rescue centre for animals, (particularly sea creatures) displays by dolphins and, some would say oddly, birds of prey. Booking online saves 15% on the entrance fee and a two-day pass (the second day to be used at any time within fourteen days of the day you first go) is a 36% over buying two daily tickets.

In all of the beaches that I have mentioned you will find parking albeit sometimes 500-800 kilometres away, most are totally accessible, there are restaurants and toilets available and lifeguards should be on duty at least in the summer. Whichever you choose, you shouldn’t be disappointed by the quality and cleanliness of each of them.

Images  © Helio Ramos/ Associação de Turismo do Algarve unless stated



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