PRAIA DA ROCHA, 3km south of Portimão, has one of the Algarve’s broadest beaches, a fantastic swathe of sand backed by low cliffs. The sheer size of the beach ensures no over-crowding, even in the busiest season of Summer. The eastern end of the beach is overlooked by the walls of an old sea fort, the Fortaleza da Santa Caterina, which was built in 1691 to guard the mouth of the Rio Arade – the fort’s terrace offers splendid views across the ocean in one direction, and over a modern marina and the estuary the other way. Sadly, the rest of Praia da Rocha is a splodge of ungainly high-rise hotels, bars and a casino that sit on the clifftop, with the beach reached down steep steps from the elevated main street, Avenida Tomás Cabreira. But at least most of the bars, restaurants and hotels boast fine views of the sands and sea – and it remains pretty lively whatever time of year you visit.
There is not a great deal to do in Praia da Rocha besides swimming, sunbathing, dining in restaurants and partying into the night. The avenue of Tomas Cabreira is full of restaurants and shops, each offering gorgeous views of the water. The Santa Catarina de Ribamar Fortress sits at the end of Tomas Cabriera and was used as a defence against pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Many resorts here offer entertainment, but for a real treat it is worth venturing a little further to family attractions such as Slide and Splash waterpark in Lagoa. For golfers, there are several courses nearby such as Penina and Silves.
Featured Image, Praia da Rocha, Portugal © Christopher Elwell / Shutterstock