What to Do – Sea to Sky
There is an abundance of activities available in the Algarve to account for different preferences. We have selected some of them below, in water, on land and in the sky. Enjoy!
The beach has fine sand along nearly all it´s length. For an adult of median length it is possible to wade into the ocean for approx 10 meters before having to start to swim depending on the tide.
The currents are usually not very pronounced but again this can vary with the tide. Both the width and length of the beach show considerable variation between high and low tide. Outside July to September, when winds from the south sometimes occur, the parts of the beach below the high cliffs in the eastern half of the beach provide good protection from the northerly or westerly winds that prevail.
In Portugal, restaurant owners may only rent out beach beds and parasols if they provide a lifeguard for the beach. A green, yellow and red warning system is used for the warning flag. The restaurant/beach pavilion Atlantico that guards the beach of Salema, takes it´s job seriously. The life guard, their flags and toilet facilities are available all summer round.
On a cliff 3 feet or so above the sand towards the western end of the beach a series of well-preserved footmarks from a dinosaur that lived here 100 million years ago or so can be found (see photo). There are also some footprints from another dinosaur species in the opposite end of the beach.
Other beaches within reach
On the West coast there are wild but still accessible beaches facing the the immense Ocean with next stop USA (photo 1 below). Because of the statute of the area as a national park there are really very few settlements or even houses outside the few villages and towns in the area, adding to the pristine feeling.
Moreover, if you are willing to take a 45 min walk we can even tell you how to find your own beach (or perhaps with 2 or 3 other people, photo 2 below) outside the peak season.
One word of caution; the currents on the west coast can be fierce.
Note: Several of the sea-related activities below (e. g. cave excursions, board paddling, dolphin watching, kayaking, surfing) can be provided by a locally established company, The Salema Tours, with an office located in the very centre of Salema (Largo da Liberdade, Salema 8650-195, Portugal, +351 962 896 026)
All companies renting surf-boards offer rentals of paddles or instructor led joint paddling.
There are cave excursions from Salema, Lagos and Sagres exploring the numerous caves along the coastline.
Some of the best diving locations in Portugal are located in Praia da Luz, Praia da Marinha and Ponta da Piedade where there are rocky reefs and ship-wrecks that add to the experience. The best diving circumstances are with westerly winds and at low tide. Visibility is best in summer when the ocean is quiet.
Several companies in Lagos offer half day fishing expeditions.
Fishing in Lagos is great as there is an variety of fish to be caught in it´s rich waters including Sea Bass, Stone Bass, Garfisch, Bream, Squid, Cuttlefish and Mackerel – Sea Bookings
Algarve – Portugal is also considered one of the best Big Game Fishing places in the world due to the influence of the warm currents from the Mediterranean Sea. Temperature breaks created where bodies of warm and cool water are pushed up against each other attract both bait and big fish, such as Sharks (Blue Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Mako) and other species such as Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna , Dourados and Bonitos.
Several companies in Lagos, Salema or Sagres rent out kayaks.
Dolphin & Whale Watching
There are 2-3 hour tours available from Salema, Lagos and Sagres.
From Lagos you can take part on sailing trips.
Just enjoy the clear water, cool winds and the beautiful coastal view of the Algarve. Take a day cruise to swim in the warm and clean water of the Atlantic Ocean or enjoy a romantic sunset at sea with the famous Sunset Cruise.
The great surfing conditions makes the area a haven for surfers from all over the world. There’s no requirement for prior experience because the coast is dotted with surfing schools. With beaches facing different directions to account for different size of waves, wind direction and tide, surfing can be done on almost every day of the year.
The main beaches for kite-surfing (and wind surfing) are Sagres (Tonel, Martinhal). Carrapateira (also called Bordeira, photo see below) and Lagos (Meia Preia).
The activity is difficult during the summer due to lack of space, with swimmers as well as surf schools. One needs also to be wary of tides and the existance of underwater cliffs in some of these places (most notably the Tonel beach in Sagres).
There are several schools that teach kite surfing in Sagres/Martinhal.
Hang-gliding & Para-gliding
One of the best spots for experienced paragliders is the Cordoama beach just west of Vila do Bispo where high and steep cliffs create the thermal winds necessary to lift the glider.
A company out of Albufeira offers 30 min tandem paragliding with an instructor at around 60 Euros (Go Discover Portugal 00351 918354714 / 00351 938328865) – note there is a weight restriction allowing only persons between 30-90kg to fly.
The southwestern corner of Portugal is an ideal location both for riding mountain bikes and road bicycles. There are roads on or off the beaten track between Lagos and Sagres or towards the National Forest between Bensafrim and Barão de São Joäo.
Bikes can be rented at The Salema Tours in the centre of Salema.
The tip of the peninsula is the last piece of terra firma for birds migrating from Europe to Africa. Sagres and Cabo São Vicente are therefore excellent areas for ornitologists during end of September until beginning October and the first week of November.
The peak period falls between the last week of September and the first week of October, when 400 different species can be present daily. Throughout October and into early November numbers gradually drop off to a handful of birds with the exception of the later arriving Griffon Vultures. This final period is often when many of the rarer species tend to occur. During the course of each autumn over 20 species of raptors can br recorded and on occasions close to this amount can be seen in a single day.
There are guided tours for birdwatching in the autumn – see Algarve Birdwatching.
Within a 20 km range from Salema there are 4 golf courses: Santo António (4 km, +351 282 690 054), Espiche (12 km, +351 282 688 250), Boavista (14 km, +351 282 000 100), and Palmares (+351 918 272 055). If you want to drive a little bit further there are 10 more golf courses within 40 km of the Sereia apartments.
You may wish to take into account a relatively large difference in green fees between low season (Dec & Jan and July & August) and high season (Feb – June and Sept – Nov).
Visit to vineyards
There are several vineyards in the vicinity that offer demonstrations of the vineyards and their wine-making process. Monte Casteleja just east of Lagos is a small vineyard that exports organic wines mainly to USA. Quinta dos Vales close to Lagoa on the other hand is the largest quality wine producer in Algarve. Salema Tours can also organize visits to vine yards.
Just walking in Algarve you’ll immediately notice the beautiful scenery. Half of January the almond trees begin to blossom (photo below) and in May the poppies and other field flowers come out. There are many marked walking routes along the coast and the inland also some walks with knowlegable guides.
There’s a riding school 10 min away from Salema (Tiffany’s Riding Center). You can book rides for 1 or 2 hours, half a day or even a full day through quiet valleys, over wooded hills or along the steep Algarve cliffs.
Virtually everyone, from the age of 4, and independent of prior experience can join a tour with skilled and safety-oriented riding teachers. Tiffany´s is located on the N125 towards Lagos about 10 km from Salema, +351 282 697 395.
4 km from Salema there are 4 tennis courts with a choice between hard court and artificial turf, Santo António, (+351 282 690 000). Both beginners and advance tennis players can book lessons.
Activities for the children
This zoo is special because of the islands that are interconnected by climbing materials allowing monkeys hopping from one island to the other.
From the age of 4 (see above). Pony Club is organized on Saturdays, phone for more info. Tiffanys Riding Center, (+351 282 697 395).
Medieval fair and “weapons” game.
In the late afternon/nights during the middle of August the old moric capital of Silves bursts with a medieval fair and tournament weapon games (see also Silves below).
Sand City is the largest sand sculpture theme park in the world!
Sand City, west of Lagoa off EN125
Tree Top Adventure Park
With different difficulty levels depending on age (4, 8 & 12 years). Parque Aventura by Meia Praia in Lagos (+351 911 020 042).
There several different water parks in Algarve: the closest is Slide & Splash near Lagoa at about 50 km east of Salema
Zoo Marine on the N125 road from Portimão to Albufeira offers a range of activities including “Jurassic River”, “Pirates Bay”, Ocean aquarium, “Flying Colors” (parrots and bird show), “Bird of Pray” demonstrations and a Dolphin presentation.
Children can also swim with dolphins in the pools.
The Wax Museum
This small wax museum with 22 figures primarily features the era of the great discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries often sailing from Lagos.
The Forest Club
A children’s club that focuses on nature, wildlife and the environment through art and crafts,science,outdoor activities and workshops. The Forest Club (+351 926 669 669).