Praia do Zavial – Western Algarve

Praia do Zavial is one of my favourite beaches. It is located on the Western Algarve in an area of outstanding natural beauty unspoilt by the ravages of mass tourism and concrete highrise.

You will not find neat rows of sun loungers complete with parasols (concession areas) or banana boat rides, nor tourist shops and ice cream sellers touting for business, but a mish mash of surfers and families enjoying beach life in a simple way.

Praia do Zavial - first impression
Praia do Zavial - first impression

We arrived at Zavial beach relatively early (10.30) and could not believe our luck when we found a parking space so close to the wooden walkway that leads straight on to the beach. This is a great as we always resemble a couple of pack horses laden down with sun parasols; beach bag which includes everything bar the kitchen sink; wind break; picnic rucksack full of goodies; deluxe beach chairs and more… Long gone are the days when we arrive at the beach with a couple of boards; a towel and some sun cream!

We walk onto the beach debating at length where to set up base camp. A young English couple approach us obviously sensing a potential “domestic” brewing, and decide to intervene with a suggestion.

“When we were on the beach yesterday, the tide was so high, that the area over there” (where hubby was initially pointing to) “was flooded at high tide taking people unawares”

“It may be best if you sit up in the rocky area because the lagoon merges with the sea and you may be cut off”

Praia do Zavial - Lagoon and sea merge at high tide
Praia do Zavial - Lagoon and sea merge at high tide

I had to smile as Hubby was desperately trying to avoid any sort of eye contact with the woman, who stood there topless as she related yesterday’s experience. Taking their advice we duly set up base camp, as directed, in the rocky area on high ground just above the beach.

Armed with my camera I then set off for a walk along the beach. What a stunning location! I adore the unspoilt beaches of the Western Algarve, no high-rise apartments or hotels, no “naff” stalls selling “tat”, just unadulterated natural beauty! The back drop at Zavial is spectacular.

I walk dreamily along the beach lost in thought. I love paddling at the water’s edge hunting for shells; taking photos and videos trying to capture the way the sunlight dances on water.
I was actually so engrossed in trying to take these “artistic” scenic shots that I was quite taken by surprise, when I looked up from behind the camera, and saw a naked man walking into the sea just in front of me! There is a naturist area to one end of the beach so not wanting to cause any embarrassment, I put my camera away.

I return to base camp and we erected our parasol. Albeit, only temporarily.

Praia do Zavial - View from base camp!
Praia do Zavial - View from base camp!

It was not exactly windy but every now and again a strong gust of wind blew our parasol inside out and we had to concede defeat and take it down. Great, Piglet was about to be barbecued in the mid day sun!

Do you ever sit on the beach and just “people watch”? I love it.

I studied new arrivals and the various techniques they employed to anchor their parasols as they battled with the unexpected gusts of wind. Despite various ingenious ideas parasols still blew inside out or just uprooted and blew away, sending their owners scuttling off down the beach in hot pursuit. I was really just looking for inspiration and a perhaps a few tips in parasol management. No such luck, everyone was experiencing the same problem.

I’m not one to concede defeat so in the end I decided to sit on the sand behind my “deluxe” beach chair, which at least offered some shade and respite from the midday sun. Not the most comfortable of positions but it extended our stay on the beach.


I love eating lunch on the beach but by far my favourite option is to take a nice bottle of chilled white wine on the beach for a “sun downer”. Priceless!

We set out lunch, but as hubby took the first bite of his ham roll a bodily challenged woman, directly in front of us, decided to strip off to put on her swimming costume… However, not content with baring all, she then decided to bend down and touch her toes creating a total eclipse of the sun with her buxom posterior. Suddenly, presented with this view, hubby tells me his ham roll is not quite as appealing as mouth open, he pauses astounded as he takes in the view. I love “people watching” They never cease to amaze me as they are a constant source of entertainment – who needs a book on the beach?

Wishing to delay our departure we decided to stop at the Zavial Café/Restaurant for a beer and a coffee. What an idyllic location!

Restaurant "Zavial"
Restaurant "Zavial" A peaceful location

The restaurant is open from approximately February to end of November. It‘s not cheap, but then the location is stunning. A small beer is €1.90 (200ml) and a white coffee is €1.50 Meals start from from about €8.50 for chicken piri piri. We have eaten there before and the food was simple but delicious and the service excellent.

This beach and restaurant is one of our favorite locations and if you are looking for something a little different, well worth a day out.

A slide show of Praia do Zavial can be found at my YouTube page: (You Tube “Praia do Zavial)”

Further details, including directions can be found on the Beaches” page.

Do you prefer the “wild natural” beaches or more “commercialised” beaches with concession areas providing parasols and sun loungers?

Which is your favourite beach?

8 thoughts on “Praia do Zavial – Western Algarve

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  1. Have to look this one up sometime, Piglet. Up at Porto in a few weeks time and would love to see some of Silver Coast beaches. Focussing on the Duoro though, and you can only go so many directions at once. I’m like a dog chasing it’s tail sometimes.


    1. Hi Elaine and welcome! The beaches in the W.A certainly knock spots off the other Algarve beaches we have visited 🙂 I bet though, there is some GREEDY developer eyeing up the beaches with grand plans for a hotel and golf complex. Canil beach already has planning permission for a hotel, I understand. It’s an absolute travisity and makes me wonder how much and whose palm was greased to get planning permission, if the info is correct. Do you know anything about the hotel?


  2. Hi Constance,
    Salir do Porto sounds my sort of place! We will have to add to our list of places to vist when we explore Portugal
    When you do visit the Algarve, if you prefer natural beaches go to the Western Algarve it is not commercialised and no concrete highrise!


  3. I haven’t done the Algarve yet, only been here since August, but I adore my beach on the Silver Coast at Salir do Porto, ruins, a natural mineral spring, San Martino across the bay. The tide emptys the estuary and people dig for clams, then it fills up again for more swimming. Children play for hours on the monster sand dunes. It’s wonderful.


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