The Algarve has a variety of beautiful beaches; to the east from Tavira to Montegordo. The beaches are long and flat with soft white sand; whilst around Albufeira there are a series of fine golden sandy coves, some of which slope steeply into the sea; the most dramatic however are in the western Algarve, with their impressive cliffs and rock formations. The following guide is just to give you an insight into a few of the most popular and interesting:
Left from the main road or cliff road from Praia do Luz. Parking and turning is not easy so it is best to leave your car at the entrance to the village. It is a fishing port, so the beach is cut in two by a boat-launching ramp. Sandy, quiet surf, narrow and 300m long. Good for children.
Praia da Luz
Best access is a left turn at Espiche. Again, parking at the beach is limited so it is best to walk down. 200m long and very wide with fishing boats. Quiet surf. Excellent for children, with good watersports centres on the beach.
Just west of Lagos. Park near Hotel Golfinho and then stroll down the steps to the beach. 200m long, medium width, sandy, sheltered, quiet surf. Good for children, but be careful of letting them wander.
Directly out (east) from Lagos or any turn off left from Odeaxere to Lagos bridge. Plenty of parking. One of the longest stretches of beach in the Algarve. Medium width with dunes. Good surfing but take care with children as currents can be quite strong.
Praia de Alvor
Either through Alvor village or just outside Portimao. Follow the "Praia da Rocha" sign, then follow the " Alvor & Torralta" signs. Long sandy stretch, which is a continuation of Meia Praia. At the Portimao end is the small cove of the "Tres Irmaos" (three brothers). The main beach is quite wide and sandy, with good, safe surf.
Praia do Rocha
Main road out of Portimao, or back road, where the turn off is signposted after the suspension bridge, going west. Good parking with steps and ramp down to beach. Can get crowded, but the beach is long and wide enough to take it. Lots of activities for children and mild sdrf. Paths around the cliffs separating the long eastern stretch from the smaller coves, and some tunnels.
Before the small bridge into Portimao. Turn left into the village of Ferragudo, and follow the road signs to the beach.. Good parking area. Protected beach within double sea walls, making a salt water lake. Wide and sandy, with excellent conditions for children and excellent watersports facilities.
Turn off the N 125 at Lagoa, and in through the narrow entrance road. If there is no parking at the village square, drive up the cliff road to another car park. 100m wide sandy beach (needless to say it does get crowded). Not much there for children. Attractive fishing boats, and access to the lovely area of cliffs known as' Algar Seco", now a protected area.
Armacao de Pera
5kms off the N 125. The town lies directly off the western end of the beach. Excellent parking and a bus terminal (EVA). Beach extends all the way to Albufeira, some 10kms away. Wide and rock free. The town end has a fishing fleet and fish market. Surf normally fairly quiet, although does shelve quite sharply in places. Designated area for fishing and surfing. Good for children. For those who prefer more privacy, there are various entrances to the more easterly sections of this beach, branching off the road linking Albufeira with Pera through Vale de Parra.
Praia do Gale
Continuation of the beach which begins at Armacao de Perra. Good tarmac access, 2kms from Pera-Albufeira road at Vale de Parra. Narrow and studded with fantastic rock formations. Beach with many small protected coves.
Praia do Castelo
Talke the turn off for Castelo, coming from Albufeira, and turn left at the "Por do Sol" restaurant. Then take the first turn right and follow road, then track down. Tiny beach, surrounded by rock formations. Very protected and calm. Good for walking and climbing.
Praia de Sao Rafael
5kms out of Albufeira on the road to Pera. Tarmac road with short sandy section which must be taken slowly. The beaches are small sandy coves in view of Albufeira across the bay. Sao Rafael is a wide moon-shaped beach protected and good for children.
There are several beaches in the central Albufeira area; Fisherman's Beach, located in the old town - a sandy cove where, if you get down there early you will see the local fishermen at work; Forte Sao Joao, on the coastal road going from the old town towards Oura; Oura Beach itself, and Olhos D'Agua Beach - named for the fresh water springs welling from the sand at low tide - situated 7km east of Albufeira.
Very pleasant beach, good for children with several small rock pools. Approximately 6kms from Albufeira, on the road to Vilamoura. Turn right at the petrol station and follow the signs.
Long sandy beach. Good for strolling along with great clifftop views and plenty of bars along the way. Excellent watersports available. From anywhere in Vilamoura follow the signs for the beach. The balloon is located on this beach.
Quarteira beach has an excellent promenade with many coffee shops, beach bars and ice-cream parlours. Nice for an evening stroll. From Vilamoura follow the signs to Quateira, about 3kms. The beach runs east from Quateira all the way to Faro - approx 2 2 hours walk with more beach bars along the way.
Flag system in use to ensure safer swimming
During the height of the season there are life guards on many of the beaches, however do observe the flag system in use to ensure safer swimming:
RED FLAG- DANGER. BATHING FORBIDDEN
YELLOW FLAG- CAUTION. NO SWIMMING - STRONG CURRENTS
GREEN FLAG- SAFE TO SWIM
CHEQUERED FLAG- NO LIFEGUARD