Perched on a low cliff facing the estuary, 10km east of Cabanas, the whitewashed village of CACELA VELHA is a reminder of how the Algarve must have looked half a century ago. Apart from a few café-restaurants, there are no tourist facilities, just a pretty church and the remains of an eighteenth-century fort – and even that houses a maritime police station and is closed to the public. Offering exhilarating views from its clifftop, Cacela is highly picturesque and, despite the Quinta da Ria/Quinta da Cima golf courses just to the west, it’s rarely overrun by visitors. The only time the place gets busy is during the Moorish Nights in July – a four-day festival of Arabic food and Moorish-inspired events, including a souk.
The beach below the village has been rated as one of the best in the world, and it would be hard not to agree. To get to it, follow signs to “Fábrica”, just west of the village, around 1km downhill. From here a ferryman can take you over to the beach (daily in summer, but only during good weather the rest of the year).