Praia da Marinha
A honey-colored escape from the Algarve’s hustle
BY PAUL AMES
For millennia, waves and wind have nibbled away at the sandstone cliffs curled around this cove of soft sand on Portugal’s south coast. They’ve carved a natural sculpture garden of arches, caves and pillars lapped by gentle Atlantic waters. Layers of orange and yellow rock form the south-facing cliff. They change through the day, as the passing sun paints in shades that range from pale honey to burnished bronze.
In the shallow waters, there’s a contrasting palette of blue over gently sloping sand and a sprinkling of rocks that draw sea life and snorkelers. Although Praia da Marinha sits in the heart of the Algarve vacation coast, it’s escaped the overdevelopment marring many of the region’s busy resorts.
The cliffs are topped with greenery that bursts into flower in springtime. Despite its relative inaccessibility -- down a country lane, then a climb down steps to reach the sand -- the beach can get busy at the height of the summer. June or September are better. All that beauty not enough? For a few euros, you can jump aboard one of the skiffs offering trips to nearby sea caves: the light-filled dome of Benagil grotto is breathtaking.
Did you know?
Steep steps and a lack of facilities keep the crowds at bay, making Praia da Marinha one of the Algarve’s best-kept secrets.
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