In today’s post I am taking you to the southern coast of Portugal – the Algarve region. Known for great food, picturesque countryside and juicy oranges, it is also a magnet for many tourists… Beware! Get ready for the most amazing beaches in Europe, lots of caves and waves, mouth-watering specialties, and the most friendly people I have ever meet.
To kick things off, I will take you to Faro, the most important town on the southern coast. It has had a dynamic history, as has the whole region. In fact, it was precisely from here that the Portuguese ships had set off in search of new continents, peoples, and, well, fortune. The moment your captain says that you have begun landing, glue yourself to the plane’s window and enjoy the view… sandy beaches as long as your eyes can see, rocky cliffs, lush green golf courses, and to top it all off, the delta of the Ria Formosa Natural Park with numerous islands scattered around, many of which are completely deserted. The airport is relatively small and well organised, so get yourself a rent-a-car vehicle and your Algarve adventure can start.
To get to know more about this amazing place, go to http://www.faroportugal.org . My best friend and my partner in crime, Ronny, and I drove directly to the port of Faro, where you can find a spacious (and free) car park, and after a few minutes walk, we found ourselves in the busy streets of the downtown Faro, with crowds of tourists everywhere around us and wonderful examples of architectural mastery in the midst of rows of orange trees.
A company called Animaris (http://ilha-deserta.com/) offers boat trips to the Ilha Deserta (the Deserted Island), as well as private guided tours of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This uninhabited island boasts 11 km of pristine beach, as well as unique biodiversity and ecosystem typical of the entire delta. After a comfortable and chilly boat ride, we arrive at the island and we take the road on our right. A tiny hiking trail forms an inner ring around the island. You might see examples of rare species, such as the birds called Sacred Ibis or the Brant Geese, but don’t be surprised if you see some Humpback whales swimming around. Time and time again we stop to take pictures, but finally we sit our small bums down. Believe me, hours mean nothing when you are there, stretched on that soft sand. An occasional seagull or a big wave break the silent magic that will wrap you up, warm and relaxed. And the best thing is… no people in sight. If you are the kind of person who enjoys sunbathing naked, well, here and now is the chance! I cannot confirm we did that, but neither can I deny it 😀 !!!
On the way back, we stop at the only building on the island, the Estamine restaurant and enjoy sipping on a espresso latte, while waiting for our boat to take us back to the civilisation.