With all of my girls in matching Marysia swimsuits, yes we are those people! Ha
I’m sure I’ve said this before, and will undoubtedly say it again but our favorite day of every family vacation is a day spent at sea. We love swimming, boating, and exploring all of the coves and secret beach spots you can’t always get to by car. I love the feeling you get all alone in a beautiful and secluded place, which can sometimes be hard to experience with the advent of social media and the wealth of travel information available online, (I see the irony), but if timed right can still happen. After the stressful experience of a poor seasick Isla in France last summer we decided it was best to leave Islie and Karen behind during our boat day on this trip, instead of subjecting her to the possibility of puking all day, no matter how much we wished they could have come. They shared a special solo day at the hotel together, relaxing by the beach and pool
For our Algarve boat trip, We had booked a sailboat and captain to take us along the coast for the day, departing out of Lagos, which was just a quick 20 minute ride from our hotel. We booked our trip though Portugal Sport and Aventure and I would highly recommend them! The sailboat was great, and our captain was a really nice and talkative guy who had grown up in Lagos. We spent the first part of the morning heading out to see, in search of dolphins which he had been told where in the area. It was a really nice day, as every day had been thus far and the sky had a bit of mist in it where it met the sea, making for really dreamy, pretty photos. We spent about an hour and a half enjoying the ride, with our eyes glued to the horizon when they finally appeared right in front of the bow. I cannot put into words how excited Sienna and Luella were to see this pod of huge dolphins swimming in the wild alongside the boat. It was really the most magical thing and made me regret every time I had ever seen them in captivity. We rode along with them for a while, the girls screaming excitedly every time they disappeared and then resurfaced, eventually saying doodbye and heading back for the coast to take a much needed swim in the deep blue water. We stopped at a little area on the coast with a small cave and swam inside, Sienna and Lu loved this.
After the swim, we headed west to Portimão Harbor and ate at a little seaside restaurant with a water taxi that picks you up at your boat. Another delicious lunch, amazing sangria, and a truly magical setting. You pick the fish for your lunch, and then watch it being cooked out on the sidewalk on a large outdoor grill on the edge of the harbor. After lunch we watched the local teenagers jump off a pier into the water before heading back to the boat, of course I took a turn as well.
Next we headed east towards Lagos, making a swim stop in another really cool area with caves and different rock formations, (I don’t remember the name but I think it’s a pretty famous spot), and I’m glad we went so late during the golden hour, as there were only a couple of other people kayaking around. At mid day I’m sure the area was swarmed with other tourists looking for photo ops. A gold-tinged sail home followed this, and as we pulled into the harbor the clouds and boats reflecting on the water was as pretty as a picture. We hustled back home to grab Karen and Isla and went back to Mar a Vista for yet another seafood dinner. When by the sea, no?
On Saturday there were no waves, so we decided to have a bit of a chill day and relax at the hotel as we were able to snag one of the coveted little “coconut” day bed areas that the kids had been eyeing all week. Jon had a solo adventure playing golf at a course nearby, which he had been looking forward to all week. The girls, Karen, and I spent the morning bouncing back and forth from the beach to the pool, and I finally took advantage of the little poolside thai massage hut which was seriously life changing. That afternoon, Jon returned and some friends who were randomly staying near Lagos came to visit us with their three kids, which was super fun for the girls. The kids swam all afternoon while the adults cocktailed and eventually we all ended up in the kid zone for a few lively rounds of trampoline jumping.
Before heading back to the room Jon and I went down to the beach and had a long swim around the point and over to the little cove that was visible from our house. It ended up being a little farther than it looked, but was such a unique spot, all pink and white rocks with crystal clear blue water where we sat for a bit and watched the windsurfers flying by.
That evening we decided to keep the relaxed vibes going and had dinner at the hotel, at the other restaurant O Terraço which was good although we didn’t like it as much as As Dunas; the feel was definitely more “resort restaurant.”
The forecast had been for great waves Sunday, but an early morning check told Jon that was not the case, so we decided to head west, past Lagos and onto Lagoa, to visit one of the beautiful and famed beaches of that city, Praia da Marinha. I’m a lover of beach scene photography and I chose this particular beach partly for the access to paths high above beach, in order to photograph the shore from that vantage point. Of course that high vantage point also means there was a long walk down, but thankfully the steps weren’t steep and so we made it down pretty easily, carrying kids and all. We walked past the more crowded areas to one of the furthest points away from the steps which was fairly mellow and unpopulated.
We were sooo obsessed with this beach. It really is an amazing spot; pristine sand, clear water although with a little wave on this day, and amazing rocky cliffs and arches jutting out of the sea. Jon and I went for a swim through the arches, and then Sienna and I had a similar adventure of our own. We did some family photoshoots, and I went for a walk back up to the top to photograph the scene from above, which did not disappoint. We had brought a picnic lunch which was a good call as the food options at this beach were not great, and Jon took the girls for ice creams after at the little cafe. It really was such a special day all spent together, everyone was happy and easy. I’m so glad we decided last minute to spend our last day in the Algarve at this spot, all the while knowing there are so many other amazing places we need to come back and explore. The next day we would be checking out as early as possible and driving west to Seville!
That night we had our last dinner in Sagres, and we began the evening by visiting the Fortaleza Sagres to watch the sunset out over the cliffs and sea. The Fort has a lot of history you can read about here, and is both a museum and a lookout point on the southernmost point of the Sagres Peninsula. It has a serious end of the world feel, and is actually a very dangerous spot as there is nothing preventing one from falling right off the edge of the cliff and tumbling god knows how many feet into the seas below. Suffice it to say that while the views were amazing our family stayed a great many yards away from the edge, and still received some sidelong glances from other people every time the girls took a step. The sunset was breathtaking, although due to rising anxieties about the aforementioned cliff edge we probably left a little too early to get the full effect.
For our finale dinner we went to Vila Velha, a charming and unassuming little family owned place that ended up being one of the best meals of our trip. I highly recommend a visit, the staff is super nice and the food is real grandma-style home cooking which was amazing. We wrapped up the evening with a wine at Martinhal, reminisced about what a fun week it had been the amazing time we’d had so far, and then I dove headfirst into rounding up laundry for five people and a frivolous attempt at organized repacking.