tbt: Summer of 2015 and learning how to ‘beach’

Going to the beach is a sport in the Algarve. In the Algarve, people stay in between January and April, as it’s cold, most things are closed, and seasonal employees are out of work.

Come late April, early May, the Algarvieu (Algarvians) come out to play. And that means hitting up the beach with a level of deep seriousness.

To say the weather here is perfect is a complete understatement. As the spring and summer progress, and the weather gets hotter, you see the entire landscape becoming busy. More traffic, more people, more restaurants, and more sun!

Growing up, I’d only been to the beach a handful of times. The Page kids were not into beach life; no sand in our toes, no seaweed on our feet, no sunburns on our skin, thank you very much.

The Silva kids were the complete opposite. Spending most summers in the Algarve, with all their local friends in Alte, Kevin and his brother were total beach kids who spent many, many hours playing on the beach, swimming in the ocean, enjoying the sun.

I had a lot to learn, but luckily for me I was learning how to “beach” with the help of an expert.

In June, and July, we went to the beach almost everyday. And there were A LOT of beaches to choose from. Beautiful white sand beaches with crystal-blue water aren’t just for the Carribbean, people! Algarve beaches are famously beautiful, and we were spoiled enough to have multiple amazing beaches within just a 20 minute drive. In doing a bit of pre-writing research, I realized that some of the most “well reviewed” beaches are places we never went to, but it’s hard to justify driving an hour to a perfect beach when you have 6 almost-perfect beaches to choose from in your backyard!

So, how does one beach?

There are only a few things required:

  • water, and lots of it. My beach bag contained at least 8 water bottles at all times.
  • towels, 1.5 per person. I always had 3 towels for Kevin and I, so we could lay them out in a way that would keep ourselves and the towels sand-free
  • hats. With the Algarve sun, a hat is essential
  • euros – there’s a restaurant/bar at almost every beach, and the best way to end your day is with a bottle of wine at sunset (bars with a good wine selection are preferred).
  • paddle-ball equipment – surprisingly fun, and good exercise
  • tanning oil (for Kevin and all our Portuguese friends)
  • immense amounts of sunscreen for me (I also had a pre-departure routine that included sunscreening my entire body, head toe)
  • tanning technique – not as easy as one might think. You need to keep regular movement throughout the day to get an even tan all over your body. And pay attention to the sun, so you can angle yourself appropriately. Whether standing or laying down, you need to tack with the movement of the sun in order to get maximum rays.
  • sunglasses. duh.
  • e-readers. essential activity when you’re growing that tan on the sand
  • beer in a cooler – not required every time, but you need both together whenever required.
  • Google Maps – a required assistant when scanning the coast in search of a hidden beach!

It’s hard to get a proper list of the beaches we went to, because all our friends referred to the beaches based on local history and/or the name of the restaurant at the beach. And some of the beaches were “hidden”, aka only limited walking access, which means the only way you can find them is by carefully scanning Google Maps’ Satellite View. In any case, we did take a lot photos, which you can peruse below!

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