Imagine stunning rock formations framing turquoise waters and fields of wild flowers, under brilliant blue skies. The Algarve is that unique juxtaposition of a destination with plenty of infrastructure but also a rugged spirit. While much of the region is developed and tourists reign supreme, you can still find hundreds of hidden cliffs, caves, beaches and villages to explore. Rent a car or jump on a bus and be prepared to be stunned. These guides focus on three locations in the Algarve - Lagos, Sagres & Benagil but you can set out to discover many more.
Easily reached by car from larger towns such as Faro or Lagos, Benagil is a lovely spot to stop at for a day of sunbathing, adventure or both. The isolation and sheer beauty of it will make for a memorable high point in your trip. One day is sufficient but there is a great option (below) if you choose to prolong your stay for longer.
This is the number two thing to do in The Algarve without exception. You'll explore hidden sea caves - many of which aren't accessible any other way. The stand up paddle board tour runs approximately three hours, during which time you'll paddle along the coastline from Albandeira to Benagil. Along the way, there will be a few fellow adventurers but for the most part it will be just you and your group.
This is one of the best active experiences I've done while on holiday and I can't recommend it enough. Book with Bruno at BluXperiences if you can. He was a fantastic guide and, importantly, limits the size of each group to five. Tours run March through October. Read more about my experience with BluXperiences here.
If you need a break from your day break, there is the luxurious Suites Alba Resort & Spa nearby. Set apart from almost everything else, this oasis of a hotel is the answer for a truly remote yet still pampered experience. The prices run higher but there are great deals if you're savvy enough to find them - try looking just a week in advance.
Be prepared to pack summer clothes for the warm days and more layers for cooler nights. The temperature drop is significant and you don't want to be discouraged from dining in the lovely outdoors just because of the cool winds. (This is coming from someone who constantly packs a little too positively with the lightest of light summer clothes. I usually make do but this time I had to resort to shopping for sweaters!)
Seafood, seafood and more seafood. If you like it or even if you don't usually, this is the place to try. Often restaurants will prepare dishes made from the catch of the day. It doesn't get any fresher than that! For healthier prep, order your courses grilled with a squeeze of lemon.
Also, although not technically a nutrient...the white wine is outstanding and easily a treat in itself. Be sure to try Paxa Escolha (a white wine) it's local to the Algarve and phenomenal! Don't miss a chance to sip on Vinho Verde either if you haven't had it.