The Algarve’s west coast faces the full brunt of the Atlantic, whose crashing breakers and cooler waters have largely deterred the developers. Nevertheless, the rocky coastline is punctuated by fantastic broad beaches accessible from the small villages of Carrapateira, Odeceixe or, a little further inland, Aljezur. This is popular territory for surfers, campervanners and hardy nudists who appreciate the remote beaches, but be warned: the sea can be dangerous and swimmers should take great care. The designation in 1995 of the stretch of coast from Burgau to Cabo de São Vicente and up through the Alentejo as a nature reserve – the Parque Natural da Costa Vicentina – has afforded the rugged scenery a certain amount of protection, though it also means that accommodation is scarce and it certainly helps to have your own transport.

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