Steep cliffs, silver-white sand and the promise of a holiday far from the maddening crowds. This useful listicle will tell you everything you need to know to plan your next weekend escape.
A few warm days in April are enough to get anyone dreaming of switching wardrobes and putting aside beany hats and umbrellas. It’s nearly May now, and you need dream no more.
Book a flight to Faro, in Portugal’s ever-sunny Algarve, and to engage in a little beach hopping for some peace and quiet. That’s right – no tourists, no fish and chips, no fuss. Just a warm southern breeze and the sound of the waves crashing into shore.
Praia João de Arens
You can start here. Easily accessible, this hidden gem sits between Portimão and Alvor, and will ask you for the smallest effort in exchange of the most beautiful scenery in the Portuguese southern coast.
A word of the wise to those more prudish: the occasional nudist may be spotted. Luckily, João de Arens has enough stone arches to cover the more pervious bathers.
To get there, follow the Prainha Clube Resort and turn right from the Casa do Caracol.
Praia do Carvalho
Size isn’t everything. Not least when it comes to beaches. If you’re looking for long stretches of sand where you can walk alongside your loved one for that perfectly instagramable moment, scroll through – this beach isn’t for you.
But, if you value privacy over wifi, beauty over brick and crystal clear water over beach showers, Praia do Carvalho is the right place for you.
Surrounded by steep cliffs, the beach invites the adventurer in you to cliff jump straight into pristine waters. Mind the occasional rock, but you need not worry about thermal shock – that’s a promise.
The water is so warm and so clean, that makes Carvalho one of the best snorkeling spots in the Algarve.
To get there, just drive on the EN125 near Lagoa and follow the signs to Carvoeiro. Then follow the signs indicating Praia do Carvalho.
Praia da Corredoura
Not isolated enough to qualify as secluded, but definitely an off-the-beaten path destination, Praia de Benagil is carved for cave enthusiasts. The biggest only accessible by sea, which may require a bit of an effort – but it’ll be worth it.
A hole in the roof of the Benagil cave will show you nothing but blue skies and the screaming seagulls echo will stay with you well after you leave.
But don’t worry if cave-spotting isn’t up your alley, Benagil offers a coastal path along the top of the cliffs, east into Praia de Corredoura, a fully deserted beach, cut off by the sea, which you can have all for yourself.
You can get there by boat or by walking the coastal path from Benagil. If you do rent a little boat, be sure to check out other pirate hideouts like Praia do Buraco and Praia do Pau.
Praia da Fábrica
A beach so stunning they had to name it twice, Cacela Velha, or Fábrica, was named one of the world’s 15 best beaches by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
Not impressed? Well, you should be. Describing it, the magazine talks of a childhood dream of a beach, enclosed in a village forgotten by time, where the Algarve’s most beautiful sunsets can be found.
To find it, you will need to drive to Cacela Velha, park your car next to a little shipyard and take a small dingy directly to it. But don’t worry, upon your return, you can feast in gorgeous seafood in the only restaurant around – it’s right where you parked.
Praia do Barranquinho
Are you going to Lagoa? If not, you should. This slightly less touristic council is home to many raw beauties, one of which is Barranquinho, a beach in Caramujeira, known for its wavy configuration, with hills shaped like snakes and covered in treetops which would fool you into thinking you’re in a tropical destination – were it not for the extreme heat and lack of humidity.
Barranquinho is your standard golden coast beach, but with an odd shape, which makes the stretch of sand between its access and the sea much larger than the beachfront.
You will mostly have it all for yourself, albeit there might come the occasional kayaker or brave snorkeler.
To get there, head to Caramujeira and ask around, it’s easy to access.
It’s Portuguese for ‘Desert Island’, and it’s as idyllic as they come. Also known as Barreta Island, this sandbar off the coast of Faro is surrounded by the warmest seas in the Algarve.
If you’re into birdwatching, snorkeling, deep ocean diving or any other obscure type of wildlife observing, this is the right beach for you.
Just pack your bags tight and don’t forget the essentials. It is a desert island after all…
To get there, head to Faro’s old town and jump on a speedboat or a slow ferry.
Praia dos Arrifes
If you’re heading to Albufeira, you’re either in search of some quality boozing, or you already know about Praia dos Arrifes.
Also known as the beach of triple rocks, this brown-leathered seascape is dominated by huge rock formations, impervious to the harsh thrush of the sea. Its defying nature makes it unique, its resistance to salt spray makes one of the most beautiful blocks of coast you’ll ever find.
Its secretive nature has been, well, mildly exaggerated. See, Arrifes is pretty much prepared to receive all sorts of tourists. And while it escapes crowds of easy-access bathers, you won’t hear your own echoes of joy as you dive into its tranquil waters.
To get there, head to the village resort of Sesmarias and ask around.