A desert island off the Praia de Barrinha

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.

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Walking back to Portugal!

Looking back to the mainland from the hotel terrace; over the Ria Formosa lagoon and the Ludo Trail.

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

A wooden walkway to keep pedestrians and cyclists away from the road.

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

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.

For more information; check out the local tourism website here: https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/10098/ludo-trails.aspx

Cactus and distant salt lakes

Golf courses, bird hides and a return to the beach

The Ludo Trail

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.

Ponte Quinta do Lago

Praia do Quinta do Lago to Praia da Barrinha

I crossed the wooden bridge to the dunes of the Quinta do Lago beach. It was now midday and the I could feel the full strength of the May sun. So I took off my shoes and tied them to my water bottle belt and made my down to the shore. Standing knee deep in the cool Atlantic Ocean cooled the whole of my body.

From there, I returned east towards Faro beach and my hotel. All the time walking in the gentle breaking waves that lapped the beach. For over an hour, I walked alone; with the distant building slowly growing in size as I strolled along. At one point, I thought I could see the mirage of a beautiful naked woman walking straight towards me. As she drew near, she bid me a good day; then smiled as I blushed an ever brighter red than the sun could manage.

As I drew level with Faro beach and my hotel; I did not feel tired. So I had the idea to keep walking until I could not walk any further. After half an hour; I left the crowds behind me. Then two hours later I reached the end of the peninsula at Barrinha beach. Here, alone, I took off all my clothes and waded into the cool waters of the Atlantic. Resting in the soft sandy shallows; I looked up and out to sea.

I had to come a long way; away from work; away from the tourist traps; the busy beaches, hotels and cafes. I was free and alone; I had found a route to relax.

Check out my other routes to relax in Portugal; such as: Douro Valley Vineyard Walk

Come and see for yourself; Portugal and the Algarve is a wonderful place.

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