Carvoeiro - a Hidden Algarve Gem?
If you want relatively unspoilt Algarve, but hate to stray from the coast, then Carvoeiro might be just the place for you!
It's situated about two-thirds of the way west from Albufeira to Portimao (the biggest coastal landmarks I could think of to help you place it).
I often think of it like that mythical Scottish village 'Brigadoon', that's supposed to appear every so often out of the mist - only to disappear again for years and years...
But that's only because I always seem to have such a time trying to make my way to Carvoiero whenever I want to visit! I quite often end up somewhere else entirely, which
surprises Nev, who thinks I'm a bit of a whizz at geography and map-reading.
Whatever the reason, I'm always buoyed up by a sense of accomplishment, if I ever manage to locate Carvoeiro at the first time of asking!
So it was with just such a feeling that I parked the hire car, in April 2005, having driven into town via a stop-off at neighbouring Ferragudo. It's a very hilly spot, Carvoeiro
town, so I tend to park some way outside and we stretch our legs walking to the beach.
OK, so it is small...
But is it quality you're after, or just quantity? I tend to be guided by what Portuguese vacationers do, and they certainly seem to like Carvoeiro a lot!
The sand is enclosed within a cove, which provides for a sheltered sunbathing experience without the need to worry about erecting wind-breakers and other extraneous
holiday paraphernalia... You just spread out your beach towel and flop down. (That's my idea of efficiency on vacation).
There are lots of handy little shops just behind the beach that can supply all the things you forgot to bring along because you were so keen to hit the sand. (And, yes, some of
them sell all sorts of stuff that's neither handy nor liable to be forgotten - but then they're relying on that touristy 'oh I'll buy it just 'cos it's there' reaction.
Certainly, if you would like a small memento to commemorate your visit to Carvoiero, there are many small entrepreneurs happy to oblige.)
As I already mentioned, it's a hilly place with not much parking available in the square near the beach. Parking and manoeuvring on steep hills always gives me the
heeby-jeebies, so I'm happier leaving the hire car somewhere less daunting and hiking a short distance to where I want to go.
This time (April 2005), we parked to the west of the beach, in an area with lots of rather nice small-to-medium villas (oh, how I wish one of them were mine - but I digress).
It was a gorgeous, warm but breezy stroll until we reached the rather precipitous descent down to the beach. The roadside path was narrow, but it did afford a great view down
to the beach, so I got Nev to pose against the backdrop (and encouraged him to smile through the pain of walking on cobbles while wearing his favourite threadbare sandals).
Apropos of nothing in particular, our April 2005 vacation seemed to be themed around picking up stray dogs...
One followed me during a circuitous stroll through Loulé, and another (that looked suspiciously similar) tailed me as we toiled back up the hill from Carvoeiro beach on
the way back to our parked hire car. I suppose it's possible that the poor mutt had nothing better to do, but it was warm, and most dogs don't climb steep hills just on a
Nev's theory was that the animal had never before seen legs as pale as mine, and hoped they were large bones to chew. (Being on a holiday high, I chose not to rise to that
We paid an afternoon visit to Carvoeiro this last time, and I was interested to see how the sun stayed on the beach until quite late.
By contrast, many cove beaches are in
shadow much earlier in the day, which is the price you pay for a bit of shelter and seclusion. Not so Carvoeiro, though, so I counted that as a plus mark.
Carvoeiro's past as a small fishing community is evident in the number of small, well-maintained boats that litter the upper end of the beach.
Since the boats are there for most of the day, one assumes (I'm no expert) that the best fishing is to be had either early in the morning or late in the evening. Or perhaps I
visit such places only when the locals are taking a holiday. Your guess is as good as mine on that matter.
And if you are a keen consumer of fresh Algarve fish, you're welcome to discover the truth and enlighten me, using the simple form on the
Your Algarve Best page.
If you find it hard to get about, then Carvoeiro might not suit. But if you're keen on strolling around places that you visit, then it will reward you with a good
selection of sights, sounds and entertainments.
Walking east from the beach, we passed lots more lovely villas, but I didn't linger, as I wanted to revisit one of my favourite spots with a difference...
It's a café restaurant on a cliff, (just beyond Dona Ana beach) accessed by a winding stepped path. It's called A Boneca and the 'thatched' roof effect usually causes comment from first-time visitors. (Of course, as a Dorset-based girl, thatched roofs on a much larger scale are old-hat to me... but it is a quaint sight, I must admit).
If you descend the path past the café, you reach an interesting phenomenon. It's a cliff-side viewing point; a sort of grotto cut into the cliff, with a small gallery
area at the end. It doesn't hold many bodies, but I rarely linger too long, in case it excites my vertigo. That would make the ascent back to the road a real horror for me.
Back at the road, there's a great view over the eastern cliff coves to some rather fine clifftop villas up above Praia do Carvoeiro and at Aireas dos Moinhos. (One day, maybe,
if I keep on saving my weekly allowance...)
Within Carvoeiro, there are numerous hotels and restaurants that offer a good choice of cuisines, including local dishes.
Within a short distance are the two courses of the Carvoeiro Golf Club, namely Vale de Pinta and Quinta do Gramacho.
For tennis enthusiasts, there are two courts available for hire at Club Atlantico, with a pool in which to cool off after a torrid match. Or you could try the courts at the
up-market Carvoeiro Club, which also boasts a gym and some well-regarded restaurants. (If you'd like to see more tennis choices, check my
Algarve Tennis page).
There are water parks within easy driving distance, and horse riding is also
a popular local pastime.
Although I haven't spent an evening there in some time, I'm assured that Carvoeiro nightlife is still lively enough, so why not give it a try if you are visiting, or are nearby?
In the interest of completeness, however, I should point out that Carvoeiro does not offer much in the way of clean and usable public toilet facilities. If you're 'caught short'
then you're going to have to patronise a café, restauant or bar, and hope that what's provided there will fit the bill!
Carvoeiro - Nearby Beaches
If Carvoeiro beach isn't to your taste, there are many others close by from which to choose an alternative. It's only a short distance to any of: Carvalho, Marinha,
Albendira, Centianes and Benagil. Or, for my own recommendations, see my Favourite Beaches page.
I hope you're encouraged to visit Carvoeiro and see it for yourself. Of course, it's just one of many places in the Algarve that are great to visit. Check out lots more on my Site Map page.
Or you could try the Search Tool that I've put at the foot of the Home page...
You can stay up-to-date with 'everything Algarve' by subscribing to my free monthly newsletter, Algarve Beach Life News, by clicking on the link below ("For Lovers
of Algarve Beach Life") or on the button at top left ("Subscribe to ABLN") -- I'll keep you updated, every month, about what's new on the site, as it's added.
For Lovers of Algarve Beach Life
Return from Carvoeiro to Algarve Beach Life home
Back to top