huge, sand-island beach in the eastern Algarve, Ilha de Tavira
collection of Portugal Beach information and photos focuses on the
Algarve, on the country's south coast, because that's where the weather
is more consistently sunny, the water is calmer and general facilities
are foreign tourist oriented, and thus where most of the visitors
to these pages will be going. Choose your beach below.
usual we are not attempting to shoot every beach, just to give an
impression of what you might expect if you head in that direction.
We also have pictures of a couple of famous surfing venues, Guincho
near Lisbon, Ericeira and Afife up north, as well as an idea on what
you will find away from the beaches in the Algarve region - not a lot, though Baixo Alentejo, between the Algarve and Lisbon has some fine, unspoilt strands.
The sea will usually be chilly and sometimes choppy in the Algarve
and almost always a bit rough on the west coast. Surfers will mostly
head for the west coast, serious windsurfers too.
beaches are big and beautiful but the waters are not as safe as those
of the Mediterranean due to the power of the Atlantic, particularly
on Portugal's surf-popular west coast.
In October '07 three parents drowned in a whirlpool off Tonel beach
on Portugal's Atlantic coast.
Whirlpools are an extreme example of dangerous currents but fundamentally
need to be handled in the same way as any undertow - also known as
a rip; they rarely drag people down, only around and around.
waves are clearly visible but the powerful undertow - also known as
a rip - that cycles waters back to the ocean can easily take a swimmer
out with it and is invisible to the inexperienced eye. Resistance
Parents should exercise caution on unfamiliar beaches. Beaches that
are monitored by life guards generally flag safe areas to swim - which
may be narrow and crowded - as opposed to surf zones which can seem
attractively uncrowded but conceal dangerous rips. Most surfers are
strong swimmers, know how to handle rips, and of course have a board
to hang on to.
Portugal the swimming season is considered closed after September
so lifeguards will not be present and safety flags will not fly,
even if conditions are dangerous. If you wish to swim, perhaps in
a wetsuit, then use great caution. Check safety with locals, especially
surfers and monitor kids carefully.
to do if caught in a rip:
DO NOT PANIC. Desperate and exhausting thrashing is the killer as
rips don't usually drag swimmers under, even the whirlpool version,
just away from the beach. If you fight the current you will tire rapidly
and may lose the ability to keep your head up.
Rips do not flow indefinitely, they lose power within 5-40
metres though this may seem a long way when you're trapped there,
but just go with the flow. When the drag loosens, swim a few metres
parallel to the beach i.e. away from the rip and then a safe return
Alternatively, calmly wave a hand and call for help, perhaps
from a surfer.
The Algarve from east to west: Downside
| Tavira | Faro
| Albufeira | Portimao
west (Atlantic) coast beaches: Surfing
| Guincho | Ericeira
Pictures: Portugal | Lisbon Guides: Portugal | Lisbon | Map