We have a secret to share with you! When it all gets too hot and too much in the Algarve .. we sneak off in the car with a picnic and our cameras and we head west. The beaches on the West Coast of the Algarve are stunningly beautiful, they are often quieter and are always welcoming. The sand is soft, the surf is usually up, and the air seems fresher and cooler – and the views from the surrounding cliffs are always fabulous.
So we thought we would explore some of our favourite West Coast beaches with you – which also gives us a chance to share some of Dave’s fabulous photographs too .. he’s been so busy with ‘other photography work’ lately that he hasn’t been sharing many beach shots on his Facebook page … so hopefully this post can make up for that!
To head west, you have a choice to make at Lagos – you either head further ‘south-west’ on the road to Sagres and then turn off at Vila do Bispo … or you can take the turning to Aljezur and follow the scenic west-coast route of the N120 .. it depends which beaches you want to explore as to which route you choose, although nothing is that far away from the main routes.
We have worked our way up from the bottom left of the map for you with these beaches, starting with two of our favourites that are reached via Vila do Bispo.
This is a beautiful sandy beach popular with surfers and families – and it has a café and toilets at the entrance to the beach too. Huge black rocks jut out of the cliffs, and at low tide particularly, this is a spectacular beach to watch the sunset.
One of our favourite – and most photographed beaches, Cordoama is the neighbouring beach to Castelejo, and has a fantastic wide-open and expansive feel to it – with a lovely wide beach and big skies, this is a photographer’s delight! You can often spot para-gliders taking off from the cliffs overhead, and this is a lovely beach to walk along.
This is a surfer’s paradise and very popular with families as well in the summer. There’s a café and a nice wide beach to enjoy, and plenty of car parking – including lots of camper vans. The cliffs behind the beach are so beautiful along this part of the coast, you can drive from here to the next beach – Bordeira – as well, although the drive is not for the faint hearted! The beach has a surf school on site for budding surfers too. This is also a fab beach for rock collecting!
Or Carrapateira .. depending who you ask! This is a massive beach, backed by sand dunes and perfect for families and walks. This is easy to find and well signed from Carrapateira village, there are 2 ways onto the beach – be warned one involves a long climb down a wooden walkway and the other involves getting your feet wet! It’s a lovely big 3km of sand once you arrive, but there are no facilities on the beach, so pack a picnic and plenty of water.
A well-protected beach – the shot above is taken from the nearby fisherman’s cove – this is a pretty little beach that is safe and popular with families. The beach has toilets and a café. If you want to explore you can discover the ruins of an old 17th century fort built to defend the tuna fishermen and their boats. At the end of the cliffs the Pedra da Agulha (literally translated as the Needle Rock) rises from the sea as an impressive landmark.
Driving from Aljezur along the cliff road, this beach has to have one of the most impressive ‘wow’ moments as you turn the corner on the road and see this beautiful beach stretched out before you. Wide, sandy and unpredictable, this is an impressive beach. There are several cafés beside the car park serving fresh fish, and plenty of rock pools for the children to explore. Watch out for the tide though, we’ve been caught out here before! This is one of the easiest beaches to access along the west coast, with a wide flat path beside the car park onto the beach.
This is absolutely one of our favourites! Tucked away, it’s quite a drive along a bouncy road, but it is so worth the trip! Turn left just before the sports centre at the far end of Aljezur and then keep going! This is a stunning beach, popular with locals more than tourists, with the most stunning rock formations in the cliffs. There is a lovely restaurant near the beach too.
Situated at the mouth of the River Seixe, this is a wide open beach that is very popular with surfers – and at the southern end (Praia de Adegas) there is a designated nudist beach – you’ve been warned! A 3 mile walk or drive from Odeceixe village this is a very peaceful and picturesque area to enjoy, with a lovely wide beach. The hillsides around the beach are a mass of colourful flowers in the spring too.
We thought we’d add a little-known beach to the list. Almograve is a small village with two beaches, the northern one is sandy with sand dunes and gentle slopes, and the southern one has dramatic black cliffs .. which sums up the different landscapes of the region perfectly. Almograve is a 14km drive from Vila Nova de Milfontes, and well worth exploring if you are looking for something more traditional and unspoilt.
Zambujeira do Mar
This is one of the brightest and buzziest beaches in the summer when the town also hosts the very popular ‘Festa do Sudoeste’ music festival. A backpacker’s dream, this is a lively place in the summer, but altogether a different place in the winter, when everything calms down and the fishermen reclaim their town. The beaches here are stunning, the fish restaurants very reasonable, and the view from the church is stunning.
So there you are – ten of our favourite West Coast beaches for you to enjoy! Do let us know which are your favourites and if we have missed any beaches that we need to visit next time we pack the car up and head ‘west’.
We hope you have enjoyed the trip and the photographs!
All images © Dave Sheldrake Photography.
For more Algarve Photographs – do check out Dave’s website – click the logo below!