Since the 15th century, when Portugal was gripped in throes of its Age of Discovery, the country has embraced the sea in a way that few others have, and this passion for all things nautical has not abated to this day.
The Algarve occupies over 200km of southern Portuguese Atlantic coastline, comprising dramatic cliffs, rocky outcrops and wide beaches of golden sand and is perhaps one of the most photographed and picturesque coastal areas in Europe, if not the world.
Situated on Portugal’s western Algarve, Alvor is a fishing village that dates back some 1000 years and like the other centres along this beautiful stretch of coastline, Alvor offers the perfect combination of maritime history and modern-day beach fun.
This one-day trip has been devised to enable you to experience and enjoy both aspects of Alvor’s marine setting – to gain an understanding of the region’s rich historical past whilst enjoying some of its modern day aquatic pleasures.
Your day begins with a visit to the region’s Núcleao Etnográfico, near the old railway station in Mexilhoeira Grande. Here you can see a number of objects related to fishing and life in the lagoon and wetlands of Alvor estuary. The Núcleo Etnográfico is divided into various sections, including sea life, agriculture and daily life, and provides a fascinating window onto the lives of Alvor’s residents, past and present.
Return to Alvor harbour, home to the fish market and a collection of colourful fishing and leisure boats. Here, you will board a small sea cruiser for an eye-opening trip along the shoreline, away from Alvor in a westerly direction towards the old town of Lagos. Your boat will stay close to the coast, offering plenty of opportunity to admire the wide stretches of sandy beach and distinctive rock formations that preside over much of this beautiful shoreline.
There are opportunities for photos galore on this trip as you pass secluded coves dotted between the rocky outcrops, many of them inaccessible by road from the mainland and if you are lucky you may be joined by a pod of dolphins, leaping and turning through the waves as they keep you company on your journey through the clear, turquoise waters.
There will be the opportunity to moor up in a quiet cove and enjoy a cooling swim or a snorkel amongst the rock pools before you set off once more on your journey to Lagos.
Arriving in Lagos marina you will be greeted with a sea of boats of all shapes and sizes, with this lovely coastal town stretching out beyond. Lagos marina was the first on the Iberian Peninsula to achieve five-star status and given its size and lovely location it is easy to see why. Spend some time admiring the sailing boats and gin palaces before making your way for a spot of lunch on the seafront.
Your afternoon is free to explore the town area of Lagos, head for the beach for some fun and frolics in the wave or simply settle down to some people watching from the comfort of a beachside café.
Praia da Batata is the closest beach to Lagos, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the marina. Praia da Batata enjoys a dramatic setting, flanked by the Forte Ponta da Bandeira fortress, which was built several centuries ago to guard the river mouth and protect the town. Take some time to explore the walls of the Forte Ponta da Bandeira fortress before dropping down to the golden sands, hiring a sunbed for an hour or two and indulging in some watersports.
As the late afternoon sun begins to drop in the sky, return to the marina to rejoin your boat. Boats usually return to Alvor harbour mid afternoon or visitors can opt to return by bus to give themselves some extra time to enjoy the town and beach. However, by prior arrangement and especially if your group has booked the sea cruiser in its entirety, it is possible to arrange a later return.
Sailing back along the rock and sand coastline you will be able to marvel at the pink and tangerine skies that stretch into the distance over the seas and stain the rocks and rooftops that line the curving shoreline. Champagne and canapés on board as the sun slips behind the horizon finish off the perfect nautical day with a touch of gastronomic naughtiness.