Praia do Vale dos Homens (Valley of the Men)

Praia do Vale dos Homens beach is located in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park just outside the village of Rogil in the Western Algarve. It is well off the beaten tourist track which makes it an ideal choice for anyone looking for a great “get away from it all” location. While some websites say it is suitable for bathing, I am not absolutely convinced. If you look at the video and pictures you will notice at low tide there are rocks along most of the shoreline.

I created this short video of Praia do Vale dos Homens – not a perfect recording but I hope you enjoy! Unfortunately, after walking up 200 of the 285 steps you can hear me gasping for breath while trying to describe the beach at the same time!

The clarity of the video is not brilliant because it is taken with a standard camera, however, it does begin to give you an idea of the location and the aura of tranquillity. At one with nature and far from the concrete jungle and high-rise hotels of the more “touristy” areas of the Algarve the Praia do Vale dos Homens is definitely worth a visit if you prefer a more natural beach.

285 steps down to beach and then back up to car park!

285 steps down to beach and then back up to car park!

While road access to the car park is easy, just 3km from Rogil by road, the only access to the beach, however, is down 285 wooden steps so not for the feint-hearted!  I can only say I found it far easier walking down than I did coming up! I certainly sound out of breath when I am talking on the video.

On the plus side, there are welcome resting areas with seats providing an excellent opportunity not only take a moment to catch your breath, but also enjoy the wonderful vistas to the beach and ocean below.

Clifftop view down to Praia do Vale dos Homens

Clifftop view down to Praia do Vale dos Homens

This beach does not have any facilities such as cafés or toilets. It is listed by some travel websites as having a life guard in the bathing season as well as being popular with “naturists”, body boarders and surfers.  I observed several local fishermen casting from the shoreline if this counts as a beach activity and you enjoy fishing!

When we arrived at Praia do Vale dos Homens we paused on the clifftop to admire the beautiful view across the bay and to the deserted beach below.  It was then we noticed a white stork nesting on an outcrop of rocks to one end of the beach. Until last year I had only seen them nesting on tall chimneys or telegraph poles so I was absolutely amazed to discover white storks also nested on rocky outcrops in the sea. I also learned, thanks to a comment left on one of my blog posts, that Portugal is the only part of the world where white storks nest in this type of location. I am so pleased I remembered to take my camera as it is not everyday you can photograph a white stork nesting in this stunning natural habitat…

White Stork nesting on outcrop of rocks at Praia do Vale dos Homens

White Stork nesting on outcrop of rocks at Praia do Vale dos Homens

As we looked across to the nest from our clifftop viewpoint we could see what could only be described as a red “blob” in the nest. Unfortunately, we did not have binoculars and the zoom on my camera is not powerful enough for long distance shots. I tried to enhance the photograph in Photoshop on my return home, but I am still non the wiser as to the identity of the red blob. Any ideas? Are baby storks or the eggs red?

“Praia do Vale dos Homens” loosely translated means “Beach of the Valley of the Men” Please correct me if I’m wrong.  Also I am confused whether it  should read “de” or “do”.  I have “googled”,  looking for inspiration, but both options  “Praia de Vale” and  “do Vale”  are listed so I  opted for the version on the official Portugal tourism website  www.visitportugal.com  Any language gurus out there?

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45 responses to “Praia do Vale dos Homens (Valley of the Men)

  1. It looks like a nice beach. You’re right that it doesn’t look like it’s meant to bathe on, but it does like like a nice, peaceful spot to take long, slow, head-clearing walks.

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  2. Thanks, PiP! Enjoyed the video . . . including hearing your lovely voice.

    Not sure about the red in the nest, although it does NOT look like an egg.

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    • Hi Nancy,
      Glad you enjoyed the video LOL 🙂 I never realized I was so out of breath until I pressed record and started to speak! The red looked like a red ball.
      I think this will be a good excuse to drive all the way back there with binoculars

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  3. I enjoyed hearing your voice in the video PiP! The beach looks good, but I wouldn’t fancy clambering down all those steps, only to clamber up them again to the car park!
    Don’t know about the red in the nest, the babies are born with a white plumage and red legs.

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  4. This is a beautiful place and I guess will stay fairly quiet as access is too dificult for most tourists. Any idea why it is called Valley of the men?
    Perhaps the red in the nest is a fishermans woolly hat that the mother Stork has taken a fancy to.

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    • Hi Clara,
      I am intrigued myself as to why this called Valley of the men.
      Does anyone know?

      Love the idea of the red woolly hat!

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      • The name is “Valley of the men” because a long time ago, during a big winter sea storm, a boat sunk in the front of the beach, and all the men were found dead at the beach. They were buried in the beach valley (the beach has a big valley in the middle, you must had seen it), so that’s why they call the beach “Valley of the men”. That’s what the older people said to me.

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        • Hi Jorge and a warm welcome 🙂 Thank you SO much for sharing the origins of the name, but what a sad story 😦
          The beach valley is truly beautiful so a fitting resting place for these poor souls…

          🙂

          Please thank the older people who shared the story. My one regret about living her is I still struggle so much with the language. What I would give to speak with some of the older locals and learn more; they are so knowledgeable!

          Carole

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          • It was a pleasure to share the story. Actually, although I live in Lisbon, my grandmother lived many years in one of the small houses you see near the road way to “Vale dos Homens Beach”, 750 meters from the beach. And I have spent all my holidays there since I was born in 1989. I even considerer that beach mine! I know all the hidden beaches and woods of that coast between Odeceixe and Aljezur, but Vale dos Homens is special for me. I started fishing in that coast since I was 10, so I know many old fisherman’s from the town and heard a lot of stories.

            I bet you have time to improve your portuguese and learn more about the places you visit!

            Best regards

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            • Hi Jorge,
              What a wonderful place to spend all your holidays! I bet the whole area was one great adventure playground how glorious. I spent all my holidays on a farm, but have always been attracted to the ocean. The steep descent to this beach is probably its saviour!

              One question please :). Is this beach safe for swimming for the average person?. I got the impression, while I was there, that with all the rocks it may be pretty dangerous unless you were familiar with the beach. However, many websites say it is OK for swimming.

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          • Yes, for me it’s an amazing place, as I can be at some places that seems to be a desert island, untouched by the humans. That’s one of the magical things you can find in the area. I knew Vale dos Homens without stairs, the acess was a bit dangerous for some people, through the cliffs. Since they built the stairs, my beach became more popular, but It still has some tranquility.

            The safety of the beach for swimming depends on the conditions. I would advise you to not swim there, because at some areas (I know them) there are strong currents sometimes. But, specially in the summer, you can have a bath (not swimming!) if the beach has some sand areas (sometimes the beach is all rocks). Obviously, the sea conditions are very important. For maybe 95% of the year, this beach has waves as it’s exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, and sometimes they can get very big. Those day are not good even for baths. But if you see some “normal” waves, you can have a bath safely if you keep your foot on the ground.

            The other option, which is more safe and works most of the days, is to wait for the low tide, and have a bath or even swim, in the natural pools it forms between the rocks. You don’t need to bath on the waves, and the water is quiet. It’s only on the LOW tide! The worst is that you have to get shoes with you to walk on the rocks, but I think It’s worth it. You can even swim between small fishes, shrimps, crabs. Sometimes I find there octopus, but be calm, they just run out from you and can’t hurt you! It’s beautiful and the presence of nature everywhere.

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            • Jorge you paint a wonderful picture and have really brought this beach alive. Thank you 🙂
              For those who want to be at one with nature the unspoilt beaches along the Western Algarve are wonderful. I just hope the developers are held at bay and don’t destroy this beauty.

              I will investigate the rock pools next the summer. Thank you for the advice 🙂

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  5. WOW! I think we have something similar in coastal Victoria, but I have forgotten where it is.

    285 steps – it looks like a LONG haul! You’d need to camp on the beach for a week to get the energy to climb back up!

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  6. Enjoyed your video, PiP! I love rocky beaches. Everything there seems wild and pristine, Mother Nature undisturbed.

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  7. Nice video PiP and nice to hear your voice lol. I love deserted beaches like that, it looks a bit like the Mumbles in Wales, apart from the colour of the sky and the sea.

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  8. It’s just beautiful. I’d love to be on one of those beaches right now. My father actually lives in Portugal. He just recently sent me photos he took while walking on the beach. It’s wonderful.

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  9. That is so beautiful PIP….I would have taken one look at those steps and stayed at the top and used my zoom!

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  10. A beautiful beach! Thanks for sharing it through photos AND a video!

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  11. I love your Entry my friend
    and I love to invite you here
    http://wp.me/p1Dwwo-qx

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  12. Thanks for taking us on your fun journey to the beach. I don’t know how I would do on taking them steps though, I think like you, going down would be not so bad, but coming back would be lots of rest stops. I think the view is lovely from the higher vantage points. Your video and photos are wonderful. I like your accent. 🙂

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  13. Looks like my kind of place Pip. Will have to check the map to see where it is specifically- we’ve been up that beautiful coast a few times. Pretty sure it’s “do” Vale?
    285 steps- ha! We laugh at 285 steps. Just ask my husband!

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  14. A beautiful place.

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  15. Lovely to hear you in the video. That beach certainly looks a bit dangerous to swim with so many rocks, but then I´m no swimmer. You really have to enjoy spending some time in solitude to go up and down the 285 steps. Very brave. I loved George´s story, lucky that he got to hear it from the elderly who know so much about the history of some places.

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    • Hi Sami, Jorge’s story was a great nspiration. Next time I am on the beach I will take a momet to reflect on the poor souls who lost their lives.
      May be in a few years time I will be making the videos in Portuguese!

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  16. PiP – Storks lay eggs in February/March, the incubation lasts little more than a month (33-34 days). The period of stay in the nest after hatching, is approximately two months (58-64 days). Unlikely that the red thing is related to a baby stork. The eggs are white, with black dots.

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    • Hi Fernanda,
      I’d love to know what the red thing in the nest is though. Mini Clara (above)suggested a red hat…maybe the storks feet are red and she had someone else in the nest with her?
      When I saw the nest I remembered your words from my last post about storks.

      thanks 🙂

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  17. What a magnificent place… I love the pictures. 😉

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  18. Gorgeous pics! I’m jealous!

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  19. I loved seeing the video because I have been to that beach as a young girl with my father. He was born in Rogil and both of my paternal grandparents was born there and lived there their whole life. It really touch my heart and even made me cry from “saudades”. Thanks so much and love your blog. XX

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    • Hi Betsy and welcome 🙂 I am so pleased you liked my video. It was not great as I filmed it with my photo camera…but it was good enough to share the moment. When I looked back down at the beach I felt inspired.

      I’d love to learn more about the history of the area. Jorge was most helpful 🙂 If you have any further information or stories you can share from the elders and your memories of the area from your childhood I would treasure this information.

      I can understand your nostalgia and even longing for this beautiful unspoilt beach. I believe it is saved from tourism by such an arduous descent. For those of us intrepid souls who make the journey we are rewarded with tranquility.
      What other beaches do you like in this area?
      PiP

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  20. Pingback: Jogo da Malha – Jogos Tradicionais | Piglet in Portugal

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