When you want to relax and escape the rat-race of the Algarve I recommend you visit the unspoilt sandy beaches in the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina on the West Coast of Portugal. However, if you are looking for beach activities, entertainment, tourist shops etc as in Portimão and Albufeira these more “rustic” natural beaches may not be for you.
Praia da Carvalhal, which is in the Alentajo, is an unpretentious beach situated near the small village of Brejão (about 30 minutes drive from Aljezur) in the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. The beach is flanked by cliffs and hills and although semi-sheltered still has a cooling breeze from the Atlantic. Perfect if you enjoy some beach “air-conditioning” as I do!
There is also a small concession area with a few loungers and parasols for hire. I was surprised these remained empty even though the beach was very busy. However, as I surveyed the beach, people, like Mr. Piglet and me, had brought their own parasols, beach chairs and windbreaks. Actually, according to Mr P if we could have carried the kitchen sink we would have brought that as well! Men…
While I studied the other people on the beach, as you do, I suddenly realised to my surprise I was the only blonde haired English “bife” on the beach! Excellent – so if you want to escape your fellow countrymen, Carvalhal beach seems to be the place to go. In fact, the only languages I heard spoken were Portuguese and Spanish.
There is only one snack bar by the beach which opens from the 1st July until about the second week of September or there abouts – sorry the guy was a little vague on this point. The people at the snack bar were very friendly and spoke English.
To give you some idea of prices in case you decisde not to bring your own provisions: Cheese Sandwiches €3.00, Cheese and Ham Toastie €4.50, Cheeseburger €4.50 Coca Cola €2.00, Milky Coffee €2.00, Beer €2.00
The reason I was “lurking” round the café, other than to gain access to the toilets, was to buy ice-creams. You can imagine my surprise when I was told “Sorry we don’t sell these”
A beach café that does not sell ice-creams in peak season – that’s a first! Even in the back of beyond…a good salesman on the moon would even sell ice-creams in peak season!
As I studied the menu, I smiled to myself; you could buy a glass of whiskey, but could not buy ices! Crazy, they must be missing a sales opportunity here, surely?
We brought our own nibbles plus a chilled bottle of wine to enjoy a “sundowner”. Priceless!
Late afternoon to early evening is a great time to go to the beach especially in July and August when beaches are really busy during the day. My fair skin, which burns very easily, does not enjoy the intense sun and harmful UV rays between 10am and 4pm and if I am not extremely careful I can resemble a BBQ’d piglet! We must be called “bifes” for some reason – I wonder why?
Relaxed, we finally left the beach at 19.00 and as we made our way back to the car I turned to take the picture above. I wanted to run back into the sea for a sunset swim – However, Mr Piglet had other ideas – he just wanted his dinner!
Blue flag beach: Yes
Cafe/Restaurants: Just one – Carvalhal Beach Café/Bar. Snacks, soft drinks and alcohol. They do not sell Ice Creams!
WC facilities: Yes, including a toilet for the disabled. Toilets are locked. Key available at Carvalhal Beach Café/Bar
Life Guard: Yes (In season)
Parking: There are two car parks
Disabled facilities:There is a toilet for the disabled plus good access to the beach via a level wooden walkway. (Please see photograph above).
Directions: Approximately 1 hr 15 mins drive from Lagos. From from Lagos take the N120 towards Sines. Keep driving until you eventually see a sign on the left to Azenhas do Mar. Note there are two turnings – take the second turning Go through the village of Brejão and past the Parque de Campismo do Monte Carvalhal da Rocha. Carry along this country road until the road forks. Take the Right hand fork which leads down to the car park for the beach