The top 5 coastal activities in Portugal
With over 1200 kilometres of coastline and 300 days of sunshine each year, it is hardly surprising that Portugal has some of the best coastal activities you could hope for on a holiday.
Whether you are on mainland Portugal or one of the archipelagos (the Azores and Madeira) there will be something to suit all tastes. Activities such as boat trips, whale/dolphin watching, surfing, fishing, diving or just relaxing on a private yacht watching the sunset in Lisbon are just some activities you can experience.
Portugal is the place to enjoy those coastal activities.
The choice is extensive, but we have compiled a list of the top activities to try, covering all of Portugal.
Boat trips are available from all areas of the Coastline, ranging from small intimate cruises along the coast to larger party boats.
The idea of a boat party often brings to mind, rowdy crowds and excessive drinking, but in Portugal you can enjoy your trip any way you choose, with many operators offering the opportunity to charter the entire boat for the trip, meaning you will be able to enjoy the company of friends with excellent food, wine and music whilst visiting some of the most stunning coves, caves and secluded beaches that Portugal has to offer.
There are boat trips in the Algarve that offer the opportunity to explore the caves along the coast with the option to use SUP’s (stand up paddle boards) to fully explore the areas where boats cannot reach.
Often these trips include the option of eating lunch on a deserted beach, then relaxing on your trip home with the sun setting in the background.
The boat trips are not just available from coastal holiday resorts. Porto and Lisbon also offer a number of different boat trips. Seabookings offer the opportunity to charter a private sailing yacht, where you and your partner can watch the sunset, sip wine and even make that wedding proposal you have been thinking of.
A trip to Portugal is not complete without taking a boat trip!
There are many options available for dolphin and whale watching in Portugal. The Azores is one of the best places to experience this. Located in the the Atlantic Ocean, an archipelago of nine islands, The Azores are a top ‘green’ holiday destination, so you are able to enjoy an eco-holiday in luxury, within natural surroundings, knowing that your carbon footprint is being offset.
But in addition to the natural beauty that is preserved in the area, it is currently one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries thanks to the eco system found there, this along with the unique characteristics of the area, makes the Azores so special.
In the Azores you can see more than 20 cetacean (whales and dolphins) species.
You can easily spend the day watching these magnificent mammals in their natural environment, rather than in captivity.
On the Islands you will find many companies willing to provide boat tours and swimming opportunities along with a commentary on the area, so you will leave feeling uplifted and with a greater knowledge of the species that you are interested in.
Portugal is the ideal location for surfing, located on the Atlantic coast with offshore breezes. The coastline is becoming one of the worlds leading surf locations.
There are opportunities for complete beginners through to the elite of the surfing world, thanks to the variety of waves and swell sizes.
Although most areas along the coast provide the opportunity to surf, it is recommended that you research the area suitable to your level of competency or contact a surf school in the area.
Nazaré on the Silver Coast is Portugal’s number one big wave spot, even on a sunny summers day you will find a swell, but at the peak there are monster waves, with the worlds largest wave ever surfed recorded at this town. The big wave season is October through to March, during this time, it is recommended that only experienced surfers take to the waters. There are often waves up to 30 metres in height.
Supertubos, near to Peniche has beach break waves that provide fantastic barrels in the right conditions. Again for more experienced surfers, as the wave breaks over sand and can provide left or right hand waves depending on the conditions.
For those that would like to learn surfing with out the crowds, Amado, located in the Lagos area of the Algarve is ideal.
With some of the warmest water temperatures in Portugal and surrounded by the Vicentina Park, it is a perfect learners beach break, and the park protects the beach from the over populated tourist locations, so you can learn in peace and retain the beautiful views.
Fish and fishing are so intertwined with Portugal that it is almost impossible not to try one or other. Personally, I find eating the fish far more satisfying, but for those wanting to try fishing, Portugal has some of the best on offer.
Once again the variety available is almost endless, from fishing off cliffs in a secluded part of the coast line through to trying to catch the 460kg (1000lb) marlin, tuna and other big predators.
Choosing your style of fishing is important, as there are different seasons for different types of fish.
There are also many different areas to fish. If you choose the Lisbon area, you can try big game and shark fishing. If Marlin is your choice, you could enter the annual tournaments that run from Vilamoura Marina and Tavira on the Algarve.
If big game fishing is not for you, there are also trips available for reef fishing, sea bass, mackerel, sole and other smaller fish.
There are also plenty of options with your craft, as many companies will organise fishing trips that you can join.
But if you are looking for something more private, you could charter a boat for a group of friends with an experienced crew to ensure your day is successful.
The main advice is to research the seasons; the location is not as important as travelling from the Lisbon region to the Algarve or vice versa is not a difficult journey.
There are 3 main areas on Mainland Portugal, North and Porto, the Silver Coast and the Algarve.
Each area can offer very different experiences.
The North and Porto
Known for having the coldest and most sombre water, but don’t let this put you off as the dive in good conditions can be a spectacular experience. This is the only place in the country where you can dive into a World War II submarine, which is one of Portugal’s national diving icons and one of the most interesting wreck sites at over 25 metres deep.
The Silver Coast
The Silver Coast has numerous shipwrecks at various depths, along with caves and tunnels.
The water varies dramatically in depth, from shallow water, with caves and tunnels around the Berlingas Islands through to the Nazaré Canon, which provides the amazing surf conditions at Nazaré, at up to 4km deep. This area has many currents and natural whirlpools giving clear water for excellent diving.
There are many opportunities for diving in the Algarve, but most notable is the Ocean Revival Underwater Park, (an artificial reef).
Consisting of four vessels that were deliberately sunk in the same place it now serves as an artificial reef (this is the largest artificial reef in the world) with a minimum clearance of 15 metres. There are other artificial reefs in the area so that diving here is guaranteed to give you an amazing experience.
Jenny Lovett is the Founder of Portugalholidays4u.com. Portugalholidays4u.com is a website showcasing all that Portugal has to offer with an extensive collection of villas, apartments and holiday accommodation.