By now you know that we love poking around back roads, just out to see what lies around the next corner or over the next hill. A couple of weeks ago we decided to try the coastal roads from Raposeira to Burgau in the extreme eastern end of the Costa Vincentina and see if we could find some good beach walks. As usual, the area around our Lagos home delivered much more than we expected.
Leaving the N125 at Raposeira, our first stop was Praia da Ingrina. This is a small, sheltered beach and there were about a dozen people enjoying the sunshine. There seemed to be more people at the restaurant than on the beach.
Following a recommendation from a friend we next headed to Praia da Zavial. This is a popular surfing beach and on this afternoon there was a long line of cars parked up to a kilometer from the shore so we moved along.
On a whim we decided to follow this sign and chance a rather rough looking road to Praia das Furnas. After about 2 kms we emerged from a small break in the cliffs to an awesome view. Across a flat stretch of gravel was a beautiful, clean golden sand beach about 1 km long. It seemed a perfect spot to stop for our picnic lunch and to relax for a while.
Not realizing how warm it was going to be we hadn’t packed our bathing suits with us that day. So we were quite warm carrying our picnic across the sand to the water’s edge. As we reveled in the sunshine, turquoise water and golden sand it quickly became apparent that this was a clothing optional beach.
We have become used to the fact that nudity is more accepted in Europe than North America but this was our first experience with a beach that was primarily devoted to naturism. Swimming, fishing, surfing, wading and all other activities were carried out with apparent ease and no apparent self consciousness. We encountered families, people of all ages and a broad range of cultural backgrounds.
After a tasty and interesting picnic lunch on the sand we headed back along the road and soon reached the small town of Salema. The roads and streets of the village converged in one small square behind the beach and then wound their way back into the hills. We lucked into a parking spot, walked along the beach and stopped at a local cafe just back from the tourist cafes and restaurants. As an example of the great prices here, we paid just under €3 for a Sagres (beer), a glass of good vinho branco and a small bottle of agua com gas.
Even though it was a beautiful location in the cove, this village was a bit too touristy for us and there wasn’t a lot of local character. So we headed on behind the headlands until we spotted a break in the cliffs and followed a sign to the aptly named Praia da Boca do Rio (Beach at the River Mouth). The tide was quite high by this time so there wasn’t a lot of sand exposed but it was a picturesque spot with very few people.
By this time it was getting late in the afternoon but we had time for one more stop. We decided to investigate Forte de São Luís de Almádena. Some well preserved ruins of the fortress sit atop the headlands offering unimpeded views both to the East and West. It was clear why this location had been selected in 1632 by D. Luís de Sousa who was Governor General of the Kingdom of the Algarve. Interestingly as we later learned this fort was built to protect tuna fishing interests from the beach below where we had just left.
It was significantly damaged in the earthquake of 1755 and abandoned by at least 1849. There are some imposing remains of the fortress which provide a perfect backdrop to the imposing views along the coast and a fitting place to conclude our explorations for the day.
As always we thoroughly enjoyed our ramblings which each time reinforce our attraction for this corner of the Algarve.