Hidden Treasures on the Back Roads

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.

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Typical village along the inland side of the coastal cliffs

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.

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Praia da Ingrina

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The water was very inviting

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.

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We haven’t figured out the meaning of all of these stickers, perhaps some hold a clue?

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.

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The car park at Praia das Furnas

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.

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The water was a lovely shade of turquoise over the golden sand

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.

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Keep an open mind

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.

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The smaller end of the beach at Salema

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One of the more traditional streets in Salema

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A refreshing (and well priced) pit stop

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.

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A dry river bed runs into the beach

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A little added colour to the ruins at Praia da Boca do Rio

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Typical landscape along these back roads

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Praia da Boca do Rio from the hills above

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.

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The first view of the fort

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Imposing views from the remains of the ramparts

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.

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Just breathe and enjoy!

As always we thoroughly enjoyed our ramblings which each time reinforce our attraction for this corner of the Algarve.

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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4 Responses to Hidden Treasures on the Back Roads

  1. Thanks for introducing me to some of the little spots close by that we haven’t explored yet. The cliff views must be stunning and the beaches are gorgeous. I have a mental picture in my mind now of you two unwrapping your lunch and then looking around to find that you’re the only ones on the beach clothed! Too funny! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      It was a really nice drive along the coastline and fun to see some different areas. The views from the old fort were stunning and it is worth a drive just for that. As for our lunch location, it was certainly interesting and as it turned out a great place for a game of boules on the sand.

      Like

  2. Joe says:

    Your spirit of adventure and desire to see what lies around the next bend was obviously rewarded in this road trip. Traveling the backroads of Algarve appears absolutely carefree, the coastline and ocean vistas look spectacular, and the beaches seem so peaceful and inviting. It must have been hard to keep your eyes on your sandwich though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      You captured the feelings of exploring the back roads here very well Joe. The beauty and peacefulness of so many of the coves that open up below the cliffs is wonderful. It really makes it so much more enjoyable that there are no hassles and we can feel comfortable going anywhere. So, yes our picnic was interesting and it took a while to get comfortable with it all. Lots of fun though. Take care and hope that Esther is doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

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