Southern Portugal is known the world over for its stunning beaches and its boisterous, brash reputation, like the “Costa’s” in Spain it is well loved by hordes of visiting tourists every year! I have to be honest even though I lived for many years, just a short plane ride away the “Costa’s” never appealed! Mainly because of the reputation that hordes of my fellow countrymen had given it………… A place to get burnt on the beach, while sleeping off the hangover generated by the previous night’s bar crawling!
The “Costas” and the Algarve still attract many visitors from across Europe and the globe and yes there is definitely a big bar scene, along with a preponderance of English fry up’s for breakfast, fish and chips, in fact, chips (french fries) with everything! There is also another side, if you look for it.
Our first stop in the Algarve was at the eastern end Tavira a cute old town where fishing boats still ply their trade. The Algarve is rightfully proud of its seafood, try the grilled Dorado……
We didn’t find what we were looking for in Tavira so moved on to Cabanas where we found a roomy apartment with the closest you can get to a sea view! The towns of this area are separated from the sea by a river and estuary, there is a beach, not in walking distance though, unless you want to wade through the mud at low tide! Not to be denied their claim to beach access the hotels in the area have a shuttle system set up. Boats run from 9.30 am to 6pm with a break for lunch of course! The walk to the boat meandered through mosquitoes & sandy scrub land, a short boat ride and another concrete walkway and there it is.
The beach is long narrow and barren not a tree to be seen! If you plan to stay all day, plan on bringing food, water and shade or the means to rent some. It is a great beach for walking, no hassles, un crowded and full of interesting people!
We had an itch for a room with a view and after a chance encounter with another Yvonne in a local supermarket we headed off to the western end of the Algarve, to Portimoa. This is more typical of the Algarve, long stretches of beach dissected with boulders, cliffs and fanciful water carved rocks, walls and caverns. It is also more typical of the Algarve, with more non Portuguese visitors, more bars, shops and beach vendors.
It took a little longer to find the perfect spot, after discarding rooms with great views over noisy bars, expensive clinical hotel rooms and downright dingy rooms. My last name on our list came up trumps, a fifth floor fully equipped apartment, amazing ocean view and at the quiet end of town! We also arrived mid-week and planning to stay up to a week…….. all good bargaining points in what is a depressed economy right now! Needless to say we got a great rate……… Funnily enough we got exactly what was on our wish list including the price, talk about the power of intention!