A short guide to the Best Beaches in Central Algarve, some of Europe’s finest, where the water is clear, the sea is safe and golden fine sand. A long-time holiday favorite for Brits, Irish, Germans and Dutch, the middle is the Algarve has gone from the favorite summer location for the northern European holidaymaker to becoming the home of expat seeking a life in the sun by the sea.
Above the warmness of the Portuguese, the quality of our food and relatively cheap cost of living, it is the good weather tied with some of Europe’s finest beaches that make the Central Algarve such an attractive destination. The beaches closer to the Atlantic and the Cape São Vicente and Sagres have cooler water (summer averages of 16ºC compared to 21ºC), the sea is more agitated and they are smaller. On the Spanish side, places like Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António, have very long stretches of white sand, the water is a bit too warm (23ºC compared to 21ºC) and there are almost no waves. Plus, some of them need to be accessed by boat as there is not footpath over the Ria Formosa water canals.
The Best Beaches in Central Algarve
Taking the Portuguese saying “no meio é que está a virtude” – virtue lies in the middle, the best Beaches can be found in Central Algarve. One can find seriously spectacular stretches of sand and small enclaves which disappear in the high tide. The still notable influence of the Atlantic in the beaches of Central Algarve allows for some good waves and watersports alongside more sedate, family-oriented paddling zones. So here is a list of my recommendation for the Best Beaches in Central Algarve.
Praia da Falésia (Falésia Beach)
Falésia means cliff in Portuguese, hence this beach’s name derives from the terracotta cliffs which stand between the water and the pine fields of the Central Algarve’s coastline. Starting just down the stairs from the Porto Bay Falésia (The hotel also shares the name of the beach) and ending at the sea entrance of Vilamoura’s Marina, this beach features 3km+ long strip of pure golden sand. It’s backed by stunning cliffs several shades of orange, clay, and white, gouged by weather into intriguing shapes and topped by typical pines, making those long walks on the beach an even greater delight for the eyes. There are beach bars, lifeguards, and sundecks almost every 500 meters.
Paia da Galé (Galé Beach)
Along Praia da Falésia and Ilha de Faro, Praia de Galé makes up the 3 long walk beaches in Central Algarve. It runs from Galé, through the Salgados wetlands, ending at Armação de Pêra. It has plenty of interesting rock formations which convert into playful sea pools during the low tide, so it is very popular with families with children.
Ilha de Faro (Faro Island)
Lacking the glamor and celebrity status of the Falésia, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura’s beaches, Faro island is a trip to Portuguese beach life. Here the restaurants are all about traditional Portuguese cuisine, a beer doesn’t cost 5 euros and the houses are fisherman’s huts conversions right on the water’s edge. The Island is accessed by a single road across a rather narrow bridge and before this was built only by boat. Besides the glimpse into Portuguese life, the island’ two waterfronts – Atlantic to the south and Ria Formosa to the north offer two completely different experiences. On one side of the island are the Atlantic Ocean and miles and miles of clear sands. On the other, you have the calmer waters, packed with marine and wildlife of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Praia de Albandeira and Praia da Estaquinha (Albandeira and Estaquinha Beach)
Praia de Albandeira and Praia da Estaquinha are a well-kept secret on the coast of Central Algarve. The fragile rocks cliffs were carved during centuries of abrasion by the elements to give the fine tracery that lends beauty to the small bay. The postcard photo of the sea carved arch within the rock is taken from either of these two beaches.
Praia do Anção (Anção Beach)
The closest you will ever get to a deserted beach in Central Algarve, Praia do Anção is an endless, golden, blue-flag stretch of sand. The extension from Ilha de Faro and only ending up in Vilamoura, this beach is popular with families, with its calm seas and lifeguard and protected dunes behind.
Praia da Marinha (Marinha Beach)
Nominated one of the 10 best beaches in Europe by the Michelin Guide, this white stretch of pure pleasure lies at the bottom of rocky outcrops. You are rewarded for the dangerous downwards journey by the translucent seas which make Praia da Marinha the best spot in the district for snorkeling, and boats depart from here to visit the caves.
Praia da Ponta Pequena and Praia da Andorinha
The Ponta Pequena Beach has a small beach that is almost entirely submerged during high tide. In the distance, about 130 meters, one can see the big rock formations sprouting from the sea. There is a natural arch that allows access to the nearby beach of Praia da Andorinha. This second beach has a little water stream flowing off its east cliff, turning this façade into a small but interesting waterfall.
This Best Beaches in Central Algarve article is a part of my ongoing collaboration with Porto Bay Hotels, where I am a frequent contributor to the In Porto Bay blog. You can find the original article here.
PortoBay Falesia is located right next to Falesia Beach and a recommended location to enjoy the Best Beaches in Central Algarve.