Most tourists arrive to the Algarve via the airport in Faro. From there, they have to use a expensive hire car to get to one of the many idyllic coastal towns and resorts that lie along the south coast of Portugal. Yet just a ten minute bus ride from the airport lies one of the most serene sandy beaches that I have ever seen.
‘Praia de Faro‘ or ‘Ilha de Faro‘ is a long sandy peninsula on the western side of the Ria Formosa lagoon. These calm tranquil waters protected from the sea by beautiful sandy islands; are not just home to many tourists but wildlife too. You can see lush seagrass meadows, saltmarshes, and hundreds of species of migrating birds from all over Europe.
So escaping the hustle and bustle of Faro beach; I used the Ludo Trail to walk through this lagoon on a causeway and returned via the deserted beaches further west, far from the nearest road access.
I was staying at the friendly family run Hotel Aeromar; which is the first large building on the left as you cross the bridge from mainland Portugal. The rooms were clean and the breakfast and evening menu were very tasty; with the waiters and receptionist very welcoming and friendly. For more information; here is their website: https://www.aeromar.net/en
So after a hearty breakfast and a refreshing cold shower; I climbed up to the rooftop terrace of the hotel. From here I could see back to the mainland and survey the course of my route. This was my first time in Portugal and I felt happy to be exploring somewhere new.
On the boardwalk
So I descended the stairs, bid good day to the hotelier and set off in the early May morning sun. I crossed the bridge on a narrow raised pavement; that kept me safe from passing cars and then passed onto a wide wooden walkway. How considerate of the local council to build such a structure. In my native England; community benefiting projects are few and far between.
A gentle sea breeze cooled my back as I walked; whilst birdsong and the scent of the salty sea filled the air. I felt awake and fresh; I felt alive and happy to be alive for being surrounded by nature.
The Ludo Trail
At the end of the boardwalk, there is a roundabout that leads to a car park on your right. I saw many campervans here; so I presume it is free and as well as safe for a few nights? From here, I followed the road for approximately 50 metres; before using a pedestrian crossing by a large information sign.
It is here that you can leave the road far behind and walk the amazing Ludo Trail. Either side flowers jostled for the spring sun; eucalyptus trees swayed in the breeze and birds swooped and swam in the waters either side. Overhead, jet planes from all over Europe; would be descending towards Faro airport. In the distance, mountains of collected sea salt glistened in the sun.
I stopped a few times along the path; to rest and take in the views. I was in no rush and neither it seemed were the people I met along the trail. Maybe they had all come with the same frame of mind; or maybe they had found a route to relax.
Golf courses, bird hides and a return to the beach
After a few miles; the gravel path ended as it arrived at a large bird hide. The sun was building in strength now; so most birds had sought shade. Yet I am sure in the winter, when migrating flocks arrive from all over Europe; there would be spectacular views from this viewpoint.
After this point; I passed through a gate and on to another wooden boardwalk. To avoid an expensive golf course; the ingenious local council built the walkway over the waters of the lagoon. The craftmanship of the carpenters was brilliant; the smooth boardwalk and handrails graciously avoided the land as it carried me onwards.
Walking past the golf course; I noticed two well dressed couples stop their golf carts and hit the poor little ball into the water! With this, their sour faces turned the same colour as their gaudy golfing clothes. Golf is a game I have never quite understood; not the rules but the actual logic behind it. As the great Mark Twain once said: “golf is a good walk spoiled”.
Passing the manicured lawns and the car park full of limousines; I had a chance to escape society once more by crossing the Quinta do Lago bridge back to the beach.
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