Visit Portugal this summer COVID-19 measures for the beaches in Portugal

7 reasons to visit Portugal this summer

After several months at home and possibly some cancelled trips, you must be as eager as us to travel again! The majority of the team of SeaBookings lives in Portugal and this is also where the company was founded. There are many reasons to visit Portugal bus now, given the current circumstances, we’d like to share some special reasons to visit Portugal this summer.

In fact, Portugal is ready and prepared to receive you for summer holidays. Check out our 7 reasons to visit Portugal this summer:

Surfers have been enjoying the sea again since May 4th

1. Beaches in Portugal are already open for the practice of sports

Since May 4th, we can enjoy the beaches again, not to sunbathe yet, laying on a towel, but to walk, run or practice any other watersports like surfing. We can already enjoy the beach! Let’s cross our fingers that very soon, we can freely enjoy the beach again.

According to the Algarve Travel Board, beaches will open in June, with health regulations and procedures in place. A maximum number of people per beach is one of the possible measures. Let’s see.

And if you like waterparks, the Algarve Travel Board points to June and July to reopen these, again with special health measures. The park’s capacity will, therefore, be reduced and have compulsory use of masks in closed areas like restaurants and stores.

Marina de Lagos by Mario Majer

2. Golf courses, marinas and some hotels are already open in Portugal

Portugal was rather quick to adopt preventive measures at an early stage of the pandemic. As such, Portugal has fewer cases than other European countries; with only 11 reported deaths per 100 000 population (May 14th, according to the ECDC). And looking within Portugal, the Algarve, our favorite destination, is one of the least affected regions in Portugal.

Some golf courses, marinas and car hire businesses are already open with strict health protocols in place, of course. Regarding hotels, over a third of hotels in the Algarve are open and the local tourism board expects this to rise to 75% in June and most to be open in July.

Portugal is a seafood paradise!

3. Delicious Portuguese Restaurants

During these times, you might want to book a hotel or apartment with a kitchen so you can cook some meals at home and use your time outdoors to enjoy nature. Take-away and delivery services have been open during the whole period of lockdown in Portugal and work very well.

The good news is also that as of May 18th, restaurants can reopen with 50 per cent capacity restrictions. 

We can’t wait to meet some wild dolphins in the middle of the sea…

4. Sea experiences will resume very soon in Portugal

Thanks to the large effort by the national authorities and also local agents, Portugal defined a set of best practices in terms of safety and security, to restart its tourism sector. The “Clean & Safe” seal is one of these measures. 

Turismo de Portugal, the Portuguese Tourism Board, recognizes companies in the Tourism sector that comply with the recommendations of the local health authority to avoid the contamination of COVID-19.

All tourism companies that wish to obtain the “Clean & Safe” seal must comply with a set of provisions. Of course, most of our local tour providers in Portugal have already obtained this seal and are ready to have you once the local authorities give us the “OK” to resume our sea experiences (it should be in the coming days). In fact, in Madeira, nautical experiences will restart already on May 20th! So if you visit Portugal this summer, you’ll be able to experience the sea to its fullest!

In addition to local tour providers, other sector agents are also strongly committed to reopening in a gradual, responsible and safe manner and commit to the seal. According to João Fernandes, President of Algarve Tourism, the Algarve already has 271 hotels, 176 tourist entertainment companies and 177 travel agencies, duly certified by this initiative of Turismo de Portugal, that pioneered this worldwide.

The airport of Lisbon is still scarily empty at the moment

5. Safety measures upon arrival in Portugal

The reopening of borders and air traffic is the main factor that still remains undefined, preventing the return of tourism in full. For now, travel from and to outside the EU will at least be banned until June 15th in Portugal

Portugal seems to be the right bet as several international airlines and tour operators are showing great interest in resuming their flights to Portugal. Some airlines already even taking reservations.

Regarding the local airports, some measures are being implemented upon arrival to ensure the protection of passengers and staff. The possible measures at airports in Portugal include:

  • Temperature measurement at arrivals;
  • Hand sanitizers at all points of the terminals;
  • Mandatory use of a mask at the terminal;
  • Warnings for the need for extra hygiene care and the need for physical distance;
  • Installation of personal protections in service counters (acrylic and glass);
  • Reinforcement of cleaning of spaces and equipment with hospital-level disinfectants and use of UV equipment, among other measures.
The Torre de Belém in Lisbon can be seen from a boat tour but also be visited from land

6. Local culture in Museums, Monuments and Cinema in Portugal

According to the Portuguese reopening plan (Plano de Desconfinamento), as from May 18th, museums, monuments and palaces, art galleries and the like will reopen with reduced capacity and physical distance. The use of masks might also be mandatory in some places.

And from June 1st, cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and concert halls should be open again. Be aware that these will have marked seats, reduced capacity and physical distance.

The sad news is that summer festivals have been banned until September 30th.

Face masks and hand sanitizer are widely available in Portugal

7. Face masks and hand sanitizer are widely available in Portugal

A few days after the use of masks in schools, public transport, shops and other closed spaces with a lot of people became mandatory in Portugal, the VAT rate was reduced from 23% to 6% on this kind of protective equipment, as well as disinfectant gel. Masks and hand sanitizer are available at pharmacies but also at big supermarkets like Continente, Pingo Doce, El Corte Inglés and Mercadona. The supermarkets Intermarché and Bricomarché stand out as they sell disposable masks and other personal protective equipment at cost prices “without any profit”.

According to ECO newspaper, the disposable masks are available for 0.40 cents a unit and a pack of 50 masks costs 20.15 euros. A 50 ml bottle of hand sanitizer is 4.90 euros and prices are monitored weekly in order to have the best price on the market.

Another reason to visit Portugal this summer are it’s spacious beaches

We know that traveling in these “new normal” times can be a bit scary, but we truly believe Portugal is a good bet. If you’ve got any doubts or tips about traveling to Portugal this summer, feel free to contact us at any time. 

Planning the Perfect Seaside Getaway for After Coronavirus

Planning the Perfect Seaside Getaway for After Coronavirus

As the COVID-19 pandemic takes its course around the globe, we find ourselves staying at home as part of a lockdown designed to keep the disease at bay. While we are glad that we can limit the spread, we are also limited on fun things to do. But like all uncertain times, this too shall pass. When it does, it will be time to celebrate.

Why not let loose with a fun seaside getaway? While most of us are stuck at home, we are presented with the perfect chance to plan our next big vacation. Don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Use this time to choose the ideal destination, save your money, and plan your itinerary, so you and your family can enjoy the perfect post-coronavirus adventure.

The colors of Madeira are just incredible!

Research Your Dream Location

Whether you are planning to visit the gorgeous landscapes of Madeira or take in the sites of Algarve, Portugal, this is the perfect time to research your destination and get your plans in order. Take the time to search online for popular seaside hotspots and choose which you would like to visit. In addition to picking the fun places to see, you also want to flesh out the logistics of your trip, like how you are going to get around once you are there, whether it be public transportation or your own vehicle.

There are other considerations to make, as well. If you are planning on going hiking or boating, will you need to rent specific equipment? If you are going to a different country, are you able to speak the language? If not, take this time to bone up on some popular phrases. Is there cell phone service where you are going? If not, then you may have to make alternate communication choices or stay at a hotel close to the attractions you want to see.

Dogs love to go on seaside adventures, too, because they can feel their ears flap in the wind as you cruise along in a rented speedboat. Use this time to think about the details of bringing a pet. If you are flying, make sure that the airline allows pets. Make a list of all the pet supplies you will need, including treats, a good leash, and a collapsible water bowl. You will also want to research your destination to see if your pet needs any special vaccinations and bring this paperwork on the trip.

Lockdown: time to save or loose money?

Take the Time to Save Money

Whether you are planning to visit your local beach or the coast of another country, you will want to save money so you can have a fun and comfortable trip. One benefit of having social distance and stay at home orders is that you are now presented with a good time to save the funds that you need. Of course, the first step is to make an itinerary of the places you will want to visit and check out the cost of each, in addition to the price of your lodgings. 

Once you have a number in mind, start saving. If you are the type of person who struggles with saving cash, then consider turning it into a game with a no-spend challenge. Essentially, this involves hiding your credit and debit cards, creating a budget for only the necessities (food, utilities, gas), and obtaining the support of your family as you attempt to go at least a month without spending unnecessary money. Put all of your extra cash in a “vacation fund” that cannot be touched until your trip.

Since just about everyone is currently banned from going to parks, movie theaters, and restaurants, this is the perfect time to be a cheapskate. Set a savings goal and take this time to research high-interest savings accounts, where you can gain even more extra cash off of interest. If you are currently working from home, you can also try a side hustle like online tutoring or taking surveys to save even more.

Prepare your means of transportation

Prepare Your Vehicle

Even after the social distancing measures come to an end, it will still be prudent to stay away from large groups, and a road trip along the seaside will give you that independence while you enjoy the gorgeous sites. If you are taking your own car, this is the perfect time to get your vehicle checked out and road-ready. Luckily, mechanics are considered an essential business, so they are open and willing to help.

When it comes to getting your car road trip-ready, be sure to check your tires and get an oil change. Wherever you are going, create a vehicle emergency kit filled with essentials such as first aid supplies, granola bars, and necessary maps. Speaking of maps, this is also a great time to figure out your routes so you know when you have to leave and how long you’ll be traveling each day.

It is always smart to practice defensive driving, meaning that you must drive without distractions while anticipating issues on the road. So, if you are going to a new seaside destination that you haven’t visited before, check out images of the streets you will be driving on. If you are driving along the coast, you may encounter many winding roads, so use this time to take a drive on a similar road near your area so you can get some practice. If your destination is famous for rain, then read up on how to drive in these conditions.

As the coronavirus takes its toll, we are living in some not so fun times, but these dark days will one day be a thing of the past. Use the time to plan the dream seaside getaway and be ready to go when the time is right.

5 Tips For Your Holidays In Aljezur

5 Tips For Your Holidays In Aljezur

Aljezur is a small town with ordinary houses located on the western coast of Algarve, Portugal. If you’re planning holidays in Aljezur, read further.

You will see a lot of whitewashed houses, rural architecture, windows with painted borders, and victorian era streets here. It has greenery and wildlife all around it. 

You can find empty beaches around Aljezur

Here are five tips you need to know before spending your holidays in Aljezur.

1. Beaches, Parks and Walks

Aljezur is home to some beautiful beaches, parks, and nature walks. They are clean, unspoiled, and quiet, which gives you several reasons to spend your day there. Here are a few beaches and parks in Aljezur.

1.1 Beaches of Aljezur

Many places near the western Atlantic region of Algarve are still untouched. The scenery of the beaches on the West Coast is much distinct from the South Coast Beaches. They are clean, unspoiled, and quiet, which gives you several reasons to spend your day there. The most famous beach on the west shore is the Praia do Amado beach. This beach is famous among surfers for the pipeline waves. Make sure that you wear appropriate beach costumes, and don’t forget to carry your sunscreen. You can show off your surfing skills by taking one of the guided SUP tours.

1.2 Costa Vicentina natural park

This park is a dense and hilly natural park, untouched by humans. It is located on the western shore of Algarve, this park lies secluded, and is not spoiled by high rises. It is excellent for biking, hiking, horse-riding, and even bird watching. When going with your friends and family, go on a vehicle with a sturdy roof rack to carry your biking and hiking gear without any discomfort.

1.3 Pontal da Carrapateira

It is a lovely walking trail along the cliffs between “Praia da Bordeira”, and “Praia da Amado”, recognized for its picturesque landscapes and natural beauty.

2. Castles and Forts

The castles and forts are fantastic pieces of history. They are well preserved in Aljezur and give you a glimpse of what life had been in the past. Below are the two most famous castle and fort of Aljezur.

2.1 Castle of Aljezur

As per the archaeological evidence, the Aljezur Castle antedates to the iron and bronze age. This structure stood as a guard of the local community and the port. Later in the mid-13th century, the Christians captured it. Visit this place to take a walk to the top of two towers and get a stunning view of Aljezur.

2.2 Fort of Arrifana ruins

The Fortaleza da Arrifana stands on the cliff of Paris da Arrifana on the west shore of Aljezur. Earlier, this fort acted as a guard to protect the local fishers and the seashore. The fort was constructed in the 17th century and was instrumental in preserving the coast and the local tuna fishing area.

White is the color of most local chruches

3. Church

The Misericórdia Church, with the foundation laid around 1611, is a beautiful church with bell towers and pinnacles. You will witness fascinating statues and sacred art inside. The church survived an earthquake in the mid-18th century and has a marvelous white facade to it. There is a guided tour that you can take to know the history of the place.

The “Nossa Senhora da Alva Church”, constructed in the 18th century, is another famous church built after the earthquake hit the Misericordia Church. The appearance of the entrance gateway of this church is extraordinary and displays several statues.

4. Museums

Museums help you learn about the past of a place. Aljezur has four museums that cover the city’s history. The Municipal Museum is a structure built in the late 19th century that portrays antiques from the Islamic periods. It is an excellent place to learn about the local culture. The “Sacred Art Museum” is another museum that is famous in Aljezur for its array of religious paintings and sculptures. A shelter for elderlies in the medieval era, this museum now stands next to the “Igreja da Misericordia”. The Museum of Portuguese painter Jose Cercas is another place to reminisce of the Portuguese art of the mid 20th century at the house of the great painter himself.

Holidays in Aljezur are a good idea for seafood-lovers

5. What and where to eat and shop in Aljezur

The best foods to try in Aljezur are fish and seafood as they are available right next to the shore. One of the top seafood eateries in Aljezur is the Sabor’arte. If you are looking for a sumptuous lunch, visit the Mo Bistro at the center of Aljezur. If you want a nice hot cup of coffee along with new and exquisite meals every day, then this is the cafe to visit. Visit Trigo Vermelho for delicious homemade gluten-free Pizzas.

If you are looking to shop for local goods and are a fan of local street food, then take a tour of the “municipal market of Aljezur”. Here you can buy fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Conclusion:

Plan your next holidays in Aljezur, keeping the above pointers in mind. Also, prepare a budget for spending on each activity. Aljezur is best explored on foot, so remember to travel light while you are sightseeing.

Tips to safely travel after the Coronavirus lockdown

Tips to safely travel after the Coronavirus lockdown

It’s important to take precautions and measurements in times of the coronavirus, also when the lockdown comes to an end. According to the World Health Organization, there are some tips to take into consideration, both during and after lockdown. In this article, we’ll focus on the tips that apply to travel after the Coronavirus lockdown.

Here are some tips to take into account when traveling after the Coronavirus lockdown:

1. Destination 

The first thing to consider is your destination. It’s recommended to only consider countries where the coronavirus contaminations are controlled. It’s also important to inform yourself about the quarantine requirements, both upon arriving at your destination and also when coming back home. Imagine a 14-day quarantine is required at your destination, then you might consider another place. 

2. Airline vs. car

Make sure to pick an airline that assures to have the best health and safety practices in place. Some airplanes are planning to test all their passengers before boarding, for example. And have you already considered traveling by car? Maybe now the time is there!

3. Protect yourself and others 

You should wear a mask to avoid being contaminated and also to diminish the risk of contaminating others. There is a big debate on which type of mask we should wear. The uncomplicated answer is the surgical mask which is single-use and is rather affordable. However, there are reusable masks available too and we think it’s a very personal decision.

You can also protect yourself by using surgical gloves to protect your hands from being infected with viruses or germs during your travels.

4. Stay hydrated

Bring a thermos type bottle or other reusable bottles to stay hydrated while traveling. Several studies show that drinking (warm) water can help to flush out the virus down to the stomach. 

Keep a hand sanitiser in your pocket

5. Bring sanitizer

Using sanitizer is also trending worldwide. The sanitizer has alcohol that kills germs and reduces the number of bacteria or microorganisms on our skin. While traveling, we can’t always wash our hands, so then sanitizer is the best thing that you can carry in your handbag or pocket. Other than that, when possible, don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

6. Keep social distancing

Wherever you go, try your best to avoid the crowd. Pick beaches with fewer people, avoid going to the markets at the busiest hours, etc. You can also pick your destination based on this tip. You might prefer an area with nice empty beaches or forests rather than a crowded city.

Avoiding crowds also means being careful with public transport. If you have the chance, we recommend renting a car or using Uber or similar services. And in case you rent a car, or travel in your own car, be sure to wash or sanitize and keep the car clean.

In sum, for the coming months, even after the lockdowns, we need to take care of our health because we don’t know if the virus is still around. 

For now, let’s keep on reading and dreaming about travels. And plan for when we’re free again.

Till then, stay safe.

About the author: Laraib is a professional content writer, travel blogger, with a creative bent of mind. I have authored and published a number of articles in the niche of travel, health & fitness, entertainment and technology domains. Here is my blog.

Enjoying a read in the sea

Travel Barometer After Lock-down – Inquiry

Hey there,

Hereby, a brief heads up about what we’re up to at SeaBookings in these challenging times. First of all, we hope you’re all safe and sound. And second, let’s talk about travel. We know travel might not be on the top of your mind at the moment, but let’s stay positive and believe that soon we can travel the world again! 

We trust that, together, we can overcome this. Firstly, in terms of health but also in terms of business. Better times will come!

At SeaBookings, we’re fortunate to be an online service and we’re working hard to prepare a delayed high season this year. We, therefore, encourage you to continue to contact as you always do, as a final customer or a potential new local tour provider

While all sea experiences are currently on hold, we’re not in “the shade of a banana tree” (Portuguese saying for not doing anything). We’re getting ready for a boom, once the pandemic has calmed down. As such, we’d be happy to receive some feedback on how you feel about the future of travel. You can do so by simply filling in this anonymous 3-minute inquiry. That would be much appreciated!

We hope it won’t be long till we’re all back to experiencing the sea to the fullest. Until then, stay safe. 

Oh, and if you’ve got any ideas or questions, feel free to give us a call or drop us a line at any time. We’re here to help.

SEA ya soon!
Your SeaBookings Team

Keys for a Successful Summer Vacation with your Kids

Keys for a Successful Summer Vacation with your Kids

As a child, some of my best memories are from the summer holidays I spent with my family. Whether we traveled or stayed at home, my parents made sure that we had fun and spent time together. Children value the time spent with their parents above all else; if they also get to travel, then even better.

If you are looking to offer a memorable summer vacation to your kids, there are a few things you might consider trying. When summer will come to an end, make sure that they are suntanned and happy, eager to tell all of their friends about the adventures they had.

#1 Travel to somewhere new 

Take your children to a new destination each summer, as each travel will open both their hearts and their minds. Expose them to new places, new people and new cultures, as these are the kind of experiences contributing to them becoming well-adjusted adults. Talk to them about the chosen destination, and always involve them in the decision process (depending on age, of course).

#2 A family photoshoot to remember your holiday

A family travel photoshoot is a great idea, as you can be sure the professional photographer will capture you and your family from the best possible angles. Moreover, it is simple to book a photographer online, who will then arrive at the established location. The photos are then processed to look even more amazing, and you will always have them to remember your vacation by. 

Very few are the kids who don’t like water

#3 Water is always fun

Children prefer destinations that involve water, as the fun is guaranteed. Even if you do not have time to get away, you might consider going to the local pool and spending some quality moments with your kids. A trip to a nearby lake is also an excellent idea, especially since there are many fun activities to do there, such as kayaking or swimming. 

#4 More time outside

During the school year, children spend a lot of time cooped up inside a classroom and then at home. While on vacation, you might want to come up with more opportunities for them to spend time in the fresh air. Seek out opportunities to explore the open outdoors – you might consider going to a family camp, visiting local state parks or finding one of those playgrounds where physical activities are encouraged. Your kids will enjoy the whole experience, especially if you also plan a picnic for them. 

#5 Introduce your kids to great books

Use the summer season, including any travels you might undertake, together as a family, as an opportunity to introduce your kids to great books. Choose titles and genres suitable for their age, and talk about the story and how the hero solved the herculean tasks the author presented him/her with. Instill the passion for reading early on, and your kid will never feel like reading is a chore.

These are only a couple of tips on how to spend an amazing summer vacation with your kids. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that children need our presence, first and foremost. Be there for them and have fun together, creating precious memories! 

sailing with kids in the Algarve

5 reasons why you should go sailing in the Algarve with kids

The Algarve, the South of Portugal, is a popular holiday destination for families from all over the world. In fact, there are many reasons why the Algarve is a great destination for those traveling with kids. The Algarve has a mild climate all year round, it’s super safe, there are great family-friendly restaurants and accommodation options as well as things to do. We went sailing in the Algarve with kids and it was one of the most unforgettable experience during these holidays in the Algarve.

We visit the Algarve quite often as my parents and sister live here and my husband and the little one just love it as much as I do. This time, on a summer-like day in March, we grabbed the opportunity to go on a half-day sailing trip in Portimão. We had such a great time that we decided to write this post to convince you to take you kids out sailing in the Algarve too!

Here are our 5 reasons why you should go sailing with kids in the Algarve:

These sailboats are very spacious!

1 – Sailing boats are very kid-friendly

Among the different types of vessels we have at SeaBookings, sailboats, be it monohauls or catamarans are some of the most kid-friendly. Especially on private charters, you have plenty of space for you and your family. While some may be actively helping in the sailing, others may be relaxing in the sun and the youngest ones may even be napping in the shade. When the sea is calm, sailing boats are suitable for all ages, from babies to grandparents!

Why such a serious face if sailing is so relaxing?

2 – You’ll be involved in the sailing and your kids too

On the sailing trip we did in Portimão with the kids, we were actively participating in the sailing. If you prefer not to, of course, you’re free to simply sit back and relax, but for us, learning some new skills was super exciting!

Is sailing a new hobby or will she continue preferring to draw?

3 – You and your kids may discover a new hobby

As you’ll be sailing yourself, pushing the ropes and steering the boat, you may discover that you actually really like it and want to learn more about sailing. Or maybe, you’re an avid sailor and would like to show your kids what sailing is all about. Well, here you’ve got the perfect setting to do so: great boats, experienced skippers and incredible scenery and some of the best conditions in Europe!

Just being outside and exploring nature would be a reason to take the kids sailing!

4 – You’ll be doing an outdoor activity together

It’s scientifically proven that experiences bring more happiness than things. Spending time together with our kids is one of the most valuable things we can do. We can guarantee you that the morning we spent out sailing with the kids in the Algarve won’t be forgotten soon! And how healthy is breathing the fresh sea breeze and charing up some vitamin D?

Enjoy the stunning coastline around Portimão

5 – You can adapt the experience according to your preferences and needs

With our 6-year-old, we thought a full-day sailing experience might be a little too much this time of the year. In March, the weather can still be a bit tricky in Portugal but fortunately, we were blessed with 20 degrees and a blue sky. In reality, time flew by while we were sailing along the beautiful Algarve coastline! Next time, we’ll probably go for a full-day experience to have more time to explore some of the many cute secluded beaches of the area. And one day, we already promised the little one, we’ll be spending a night or two on a boat. How cool is that?

As you can see, sailing with kids in the Algarve is a great thing to do when visiting Portugal. And you don’t need to worry about catering as this can be arranged (and we highly recommend it! We had a delicious brunch on board!). The only thing you need to care about is to bring a wind-jacket (which we did not use this time, but you never know) and a hat and sunscreen (yes, even this time of the year the sun can be strong already!).

Feel free to book your sailing experience here or contact us if you’ve got any questions or suggestions about sailing or other boat tours with kids in the Algarve. Happy holidays!

My First Canoe Travel

Recently, I went for a trip down a small section of the stunning Murray River, in Australia. This was my first unaccompanied journey, taking around four hours.  Getting to experience this portion of the river has helped instil in me a love of canoeing and the excitement it can bring. 

Preparing For The Trip

My preparation for the trip began a few months before the journey. I needed to make sure that I was confident about handling the canoe, and could keep the boat balanced. To practice this, we went to a quiet part of the river. There was no tide, so I could fall in safely. At first, I did struggle to keep the boat steady for long enough to get in. However, the more I practiced, the easier this became. In addition, I found that it became easier to steer the boat and control its trajectory. Once I was confident in this area, I was able to start planning for the trip. 

The first thing that I needed to do was study the maps. Thankfully, this part of the section was wide, gently sloping its way through the landscape. The tides wouldn’t be too strong, allowing me to have a leisurely paddle. Also, I identified a picnic location, around 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) away. This would be the perfect time to have lunch before turning around and returning home. Having planned the journey, and purchased all the necessary equipment, I went to bed nervous but excited. 

Making The Journey

The next day, I rose early, excited about making my first canoe trip. The canoe was already strapped to the top of the car, so all I had to do was travel to the river. By the time I got there, it was nine o’clock. I got the canoe off the car, double-checked the water-proof bags had been closed properly and put the canoe into the water. Holding the sides of the boat steady, I got into the craft smoothly. Then, I was on my way, paddling down the Murray River. 

Instantly, I was overwhelmed by the peace and serenity. The only sounds were the wind rustling through the trees, the birds chirping overhead, and my paddle pushing through the water. The longer I paddled, the calmer I felt. Along the way, I also got to experience some of the beautiful sights that the river could offer. The riverbanks were lined with green grasses, gently swaying in the breeze. On the surface of the water, a family of birds was gently gliding along. 

By around eleven-thirty, I was getting hungry and was ready to stop for lunch and have a rest. I put my paddle back in the boat, letting it float gracefully across the river. Getting the map out the bag I studied the route carefully, afraid I’d missed the picnic spot. But just when I was putting the map back, it came into view around a curve in the river. I paddled down and pulled the canoe onto the shore, making sure that it was wedged securely. Then, I went up sitting at a table to eat my lunch. It provided all the nourishment and energy I needed for the return journey home. 

It was just as relaxing as the journey to the picnic spot. Despite traveling against the tide, I didn’t have to expend that much energy to make progress. By the time I got back to the car, it was a little after three o’clock. I had a quick snack, then pulled the canoe from the water, tying it securely to the top of the car. Though all the equipment was stowed, I stayed back for a few hours, watching the sun set over the river. This gave me some time to reflect on my day, and consider what my next canoeing adventure would be. 

Conclusion

I hope that you enjoyed this account of my first canoe trip. To help you create your own canoeing memories, I wanted to share this excellent guide which contains everything you need to know about choosing your own canoe. If you have any additional questions, you can register and ask them in this professional forum. So, make sure to get out on the water today and experience the joy that canoeing can provide.

[Guest post by George Aubrey]

Westcoast of the Algarve 1

Our top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve

While most of the tourism in the Algarve is centred around the hotspots like Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos, the Algarve also has an entirely different side to it! Did you know that if you drive a bit further West, north of Sagres, there is a whole other landscape and climate of the Algarve to be discovered?

The Westcoast of the Algarve has become more and more popular especially among surfers and travellers looking for a bit less tourism and more nature! The wild and dramatic cliffs, good wave conditions and hidden beaches are worth visiting! Let us share with you our top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve! 

Praia do Castelejo

Praia do Castelejo
Praia do Castelejo and Cordoama are right next to each other

If you come by car from the Southcoast of the Algarve, you will just have to pass through the cute town of Vila do Bispo to get to Praia do Castelejo! This beach is especially popular among surf schools, as it usually is blessed with great conditions for beginners

The beach is located in the middle of Costa Vicentina Natural Park, being surrounded only by nature! There is only one restaurant at the beach where you can enjoy some snacks and drinks, looking down at the ocean! At the restaurant, you also have toilets, which is definitely a plus! 

One of the best things about this beach is that at low tide you can walk all the way beneath the impressive cliffs to Praia da Cordoama! The walk is beautiful: the sea by your left side, the raw landscapes of the Algarve to your right! At Praia da Cordoama you can also enjoy a drink or go for a dive in the sea before walking back! 

The broad sandy beach also means that you can usually always find a quiet place, even during high season when the beach can get pretty crowded. Just walk a little further and enjoy the view while relaxing in the sun!

Ponta Ruiva

Ponta Ruiva is less easy to reach, a pure gem!

Ponta Ruiva is one of the beaches that are still very untouched, but it is becoming more and more crowded due to the good waves you can find here! However, be aware: Only try to get to Ponta Ruiva if you have a stable car that can also drive off-road, as the road there is… well, not a real road 😉

Also, you should maybe ask someone before going there what the best way is, as some navigation systems get lost in the countryside and you can easily get lost, also because there are not many signs leading you to Ponta Ruiva. It is close to Castelejo, so you also access it from Vila do Bispo.

Once you get there, it is worth it though – It is a really wild beach with no restaurants or any construction at all! You have to walk down a rather steep road to get to the sandy beach, where you have quite a lot of rocks, depending on the tides! Surfers really like this beach because if the swell is big enough, you have a really nice point break here! 

But also surf schools are starting to come here more and more often to play in the white water with beginners! Just make sure you bring enough water and snacks when you come to Ponta Ruiva because the next supermarket is a long drive away 😉 

Praia da Amoreira

SUP Paradise!

Praia da Amoreira is a little bit further up the coast than the last two beaches! What makes this beach so special is the river mouth, that ends up in the sea. This means that you can not only lay at the beach but also far behind it along the river where you can enjoy swimming in the much calmer water – perfect for families with kids

You can access the beach either from “behind”, by walking along the river and the sandy dunes up to the beach or you park at the main car park by the restaurant and don’t have to walk far! At the restaurant, they serve drinks and food and they also have toilets there.

At Praia da Amoreira you can also catch some fun waves, depending on the conditions! This beach has a pretty good road leading up to it, which is why it usually gets a lot more crowded than the other two beaches during high season! However, if you go along the river you will always find a quiet space! 

Did you know that you can also do a SUP Tour along the river? This Amoreira SUP Tour is a great way to explore this region and paddle through the vast landscape! It is very easy, so no previous experience is needed!

Praia do Amado

This is where SeaBookings’ founders – Femke and Bo – learned surfing!

Praia do Amado is probably one of the most famous beaches along the Westcoast of the Algarve! Reason for this would be the great waves and the famous surf schools that have been here for decades! But of course, the beauty of the sandy beach in front of the steep cliffs also does its part! 

You can park at the top of the beach and walk down the road to the beach, or you can also access the beach from behind from the Natural Park nex to it. This is also a nice walk and you come out at the left end of the beach.

At low tide the beach has a lot of space, so you can walk quite far to both sides and enjoy the beauty of nature! There are bathrooms at the car park as well as some snack bars where you can get food and drinks to restore your energy levels after surfing or just a day at the beach. 

You can book surf lessons at Amado Beach and learn the sport together with one of the oldest surf schools of the Algarve right at the beach! Sounds good right? We think so too, that’s why it is one of our top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve.

Praia da Arrifana

During winter, the beach is nice and calm.

Another of the top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve has to be Praia da Arrifana! This little beach has become one of the hippest beaches of the region, and there is always something fun going on around the village and the beach! 

The beach is the heart of the village with the same name, so you have quite a lot of cafés, restaurants and bars around the beach. However, you should have good fitness if you wanna go down to the beach because you will have to go back up again 😉 The road to the beach is long and veeeery steep! But there are also “shuttles”, so if you don’t feel like walking up you can just drive back up to the car park!

Down at the beach, you have a pretty cool restaurant with delicious food, where there are a lot of concerts and parties during summertime. And if you come here around the end of July, you can enjoy a weekend full of fun at the harbour of Arrifana – first the traditional Sardine fest on a Saturday where you pay entrance and can eat as many Sardines as you can get. And the day after there is usually the Arrifana Sunset Fest – a night full of fun and amazing music underneath the stars!

Praia da Arrifana is definitely one of the hot spots for all people looking for a fun time and to meet new like-minded people from all over the world! There are also plenty of surf camps and hostels around the area. And you can also do some fun SUP Tours at Arrifana, during the day and at sunset!

Praia do Vale dos Homens

https://www.seabookings.com/destination/portugal/45-aljezur
The stairs to Praia Vale dos Homens are worth it

The last one of our top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve would be a secret spot – Praia do Vale dos Homens! This beach is located just before Odeceixe, and you should be fit to get there: To walk down the beach, you have to descend A LOT of stairs!

Once you get down, you can enjoy a wild beach with not many people. There is no restaurant or any other construction around this beach, so be sure to bring enough water and food! But it is worth it if you’re looking for some peace and quiet at the beach.

At low tide, you can even sit in some natural pools that form between the big rocks at the shore. And here you can also walk a little bit to the right side and explore the steep cliffs that give the beach a mystical touch! As there are no lifeguards, you should be able to swim and read the sea if you would like to go for a swim, as there are quite a lot of big rocks! 

Be impressed by wild flora, fauna and rock formations

There are many many more beaches along the coast, but these ones were our top 6 beaches at the Westcoast of the Algarve! If you would like some more tips about any of the beaches or the Algarve in general, just send us an e-mail!

Beach An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve

An alternative travel guide to the Algarve

The Algarve is a holiday haven, packed full of character. With almost year-round sunshine, golden beaches and fresh local delicacies, the Algarve is a location which will likely entice you back again and again. 

Each visit to this area of Portugal can be different from the last, as there is so much to see and do and the Algarve is one of the most unique holiday locations in the world. With a coastline stretching almost 100 miles, UNESCO protected parks and nature lands, this region of Portugal offers one of the best tourism experiences in Europe. 

However, if you’re looking for travel experiences which are slightly different from the usual holiday offerings, then the Algarve has plenty to offer. Here is an alternative guide to visiting the Algarve.

Things To Do in the Algarve

Underground Wine Tasting

8 meters underground, the Cave de Vinhos wine cellar is over 150 years old and holds 11,000 bottles of wine, from a number of different regions in Portugal and locations across the world. The Algarve is home to endless vineyards and wine regions, meaning that wine tastings and experiences are plenty. 

If you want a wine tasting experience which is unique and memorable, then a visit to the Cave de Vinhos is a must. As well as wine tasting, the cellar also hosts private dinners for up to 12 guests and cheese and wine tastings throughout the day. 

The Chapel of Bones

Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is in the village of Alcantarilha and is perhaps one of the spookiest, yet most intriguing, buildings you will ever see. At first glance, you might think that the chapel is merely just decorated with bones, but actually the walls are constructed from femurs mixed with mortar. The bones in this chapel are the remains of 1,245 monks, whose bones were displaced during the building of the chapel. 

Oyster An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve
Oyster tasting is a must!

Fresh Oyster Tasting

The Algarve is renowned for its seafood dishes and sure you can order oysters at a seafood restaurant, but why not go on a fresh oyster tasting trip? On this excursion, you can eat oysters which have been plucked straight from the ocean and opened right before your eyes. 

There are numerous food tours and oyster tasting experiences which leave from Ilha de Culatra in Ria Formosa, where you will learn all about oysters from a local producer, try fresh oysters and enjoy a crisp, cold glass of white wine, all by the ocean.

Norvacortica Cork Factory Tour 

Something which many people don’t know about the Algarve is that it is famous for quality cork, which is used by global brands such as Rolls Royce, NASA and Moet Chandon. Cork oaks line much of the Algarve countryside and tours around cork farms and factories are a great way to learn more about the history and get an insight into the cork industry and the Norvacortica factory is one of the most popular.  

Places to Stay in the Algarve

Depending on the amenities you want nearby and who you are travelling with, there are plenty of places to stay in the Algarve which are popular with tourists. 

Albufeira

If you are looking for a fun-packed holiday with plenty of family-friendly activities, then Albufeira is the destination for you. Albufeira is perhaps the largest and liveliest town in the Algarve and has something to offer everyone. You’ve got a charming historic centre at the heart of the town, whilst “The Strip” is just a stone’s throw away and is full of late-night clubs and bars. 

Albufeira beach is one of the best in the region and with beautiful water and sand stretching along the length of the town. Albufeira is an extremely popular holiday destination and has almost completely handed over to tourism, so if you are looking for traditional Portuguese culture, other destinations may be best. 

Vilamoura

Vilamoura is a sprawling resort with 4 golf courses, a large marina and beautiful sandy beaches. The town is well known for its luxury and sophistication and is one of the pricier destinations in the Algarve. Vilamoura has a mature atmosphere and is more catered towards older people, golfing enthusiasts or those looking for a little extra luxury. 

Vale do Lobo

Vale do Lobo is a luxurious and self-contained resort and is unique to Portugal. Vale do Lobo was the first major development in the Algarve and today is the largest luxury resort of its kind in Portugal. With endless facilities and services, all located in a unique area, Vale do Lobo is a must-visit if luxury is at the top of your holiday list. There are two highly accredited golf courses – the Royal and the Ocean – in Vale do Lobo, which are perhaps the biggest attractions. 

Loulé

Famous for its markets and laid back atmosphere, Loulé is located in the middle of the Algarve. This historic market town is steeped in history and even has a 13th-century castle. The traditional cobbled streets are lined with bars, restaurants and cafes and there are plenty of charming shops packed with pottery and handcrafted goods all from within the local area. For a true taste of Portuguese culture, a visit to Loule is a must. 

There is also the Loule Carnival, which is one of the biggest highlights of the year in the Algarve’s calendar. This colourful carnival takes place in February over three days, usually starting on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, and has been said to rival Brazil’s world-famous Rio Carnival with its dancing and costumes. 

Wherever you’re staying, a visit to Ponta da Piedade in Lagos is a must!

Traditional Dishes to Try in the Algarve

Portuguese food is heavily influenced by Mediterranean cuisines and relies heavily on fresh seafood, which it has in abundance and spices and olive oil. A visit to Portugal, and the Algarve in particular, will bring you a whole host of tasty traditional dishes to try. 

Cataplana de Marisco

Cataplana de Marisco is a dish which originates in the Algarve and is a true seafood feast. This dish gets its name from the copper pan in which it is cooked – a cataplana, which is a dish with rounded sides and is connected by a hinge which opens and closes like a clam would. Onions, tomatoes and garlic are stewed with white wine, chorizo, clams and prawns.

Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa is a dish which is often referred to as a Portuguese boiled dinner, but is better known as a traditional stew. Whilst the ingredients sometimes change, depending on where in Portugal it is prepared, it is essentially a platter of slow-boiled meats, sausages and vegetables. In the Algarve, you’ll traditionally find it made with a mixture of potato, lamb, chicken and fresh mint. 

Pastel de Nata An Alternative Travel Guide To The Algarve
You can try the Pastéis de Nata at every small “café”

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Natas is perhaps Portugal’s most known, and most loved, dish. These palm-sized desserts are made from puff pastry which is filled with a yellow custard, made by whisking egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and cream which are then baked until golden. Whether you choose yours topped with powdered sugar or cinnamon, they are traditionally eaten for breakfast, as a snack or for an evening dessert.

Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer in the travel niche, and can provide advice on anything from hidden gems to the best Algarve villa accommodation. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea or planning her next travel destination – the Amalfi Coast is next on the list. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976