Portugal westcoast

We started to feel right at home in Portugal when we drove to Sagres. Sagres is about the most south west point of Europe and we wanted to go there “just because”. At the furthest end of Sagres there is a cliff  protected by an old fortress wall, we parked right in front of what was clearly a monument. Loads of people came to see this fortress and the parking was full but somehow we managed to park right in front. The monument was just an old wall in my eyes, and behind the wall was just a big flat space with not much going on. With all the other monuments in the back of my mind that did not sweep me off my feet, we decided that we were not going to pay to get in this one. The spot where the monument is situated is something else and somehow sparked a different mood inside me. I realized that on one side of the cliff was the huge Atlantic ocean, powerful and mighty. It slammed the white foam waves onto the beach forcing the mist to rise over the cliffs and cover the land. On the other side was the Golf of Cadiz, still feeling like the calm and somewhat boring Mediterranean sea. I could not wait to drive north and arrive to the first beach with waves.


Driving north there was no doubt, we were getting into surfing country. There were surf shops in even the smallest towns. We could not drive 25 kilometers without passing a VW van topped with at least 2 surfboards and driven by a long haired dude that spontaneously waved at us. All this somehow made me hyper aware of not being a stand-up surfer but a beginning bodyboarder for over 10 years already. Later on in Portugal I had to force myself passed that because it made me feel insecure in the water surrounded by all these hotshot surfer boys.


The first drive north was a short one because we set out to a beach not far away from Sagres. Once more it was one of those places I tried to check out through Google maps streetview. This was the point in the trip that I was looking forward to since I started planning the trip. We passed by another surf town and got to the place we were aiming for called Praia Da Bordeira. Not exactly like I found it on the internet because of all the other vans parked there. From huge silver shining fancy campers to  old VW’s and everything in between were parked as some kind of community on the beach parking. From this parking we were able to see the waves. To get to the dune covered beach we had to wade through the shallow part of a river. There was a 200 meter walk with on the right side the dunes and on the left side the river separating us from the rocks that towered up to a height of about 25 meters or so. Just the walk to the ocean was enough to decide that we would stay on this place for a bit longer.

desy in het water

feet in water

Days on Praia Da Bordeira were good! We hung around with other “van people” who always inspire me to really get into the van life for much longer and much deeper. I finally got in the water with my board and rode my first Portugese waves while Desy was back on the beach with our new found friend. This friend was a dog that kept following Desy because of her “out of this world” affection for dogs. This dog ended up following us up and down the river from beach to ocean to river and back to the van. It seemed they couldn’t get enough of each other but without a clear reason the dog decided every couple of hours to find himself some new owners. This way we had a dog that seemed ours every now and then while we stayed at this beautiful beach. Later on we found out that the dog belonged to the beachbar and was kind of the slut of the beach getting attention from whoever would give it to him. We loved him none the less and enjoyed his company a lot and it was a bit sad to leave him the morning we set off in the direction of Lissabon.


Before getting to Lissabon we had several days to drive and more beaches and nature to see so we started to make our way north. We drove through crisscross roads surrounded by more and more eucalyptus trees. I really liked the nature and the landscape in this part of Portugal.  After about 100 kilometers we arrived in another piece of heaven. Another bay on the coastline sandwiched between cliffs that had everything we could wish for. We decided to pass on the parking with many flashy huge campers and drove over a gravel road to a cliff about 300 meters away from the asphalt. A cliff stretching in a 90 degree angle to the gravel road, reaching into the ocean with on the very tip a worn out, out of service wooden restaurant. Next to it, there was only space for a couple smaller vans or cars. We parked next to a young German couple that seemed to be doing the same as us, only in a Transporter that was two decades newer than ours. The beach we arrived at is called Praia de Almograve.

camper voor cliff

The beach and the water were perfect, the waves broke in a nice line and invited me and my board into the water. There was never going to be a better time to get my longboard out than that time. Full of good energy and confidence I got into the water but soon, real soon, decided it would be a better idea to switch back to the bodyboard. As soon as I got back into the water taking waves was almost an instinct again compared to the pure agony and frustration of a long board. This day and the day after we showered under a constant stream of water out of a rusted steal pipe that tapped fresh water out of the rocks. The water was first collected in a reservoir where locals filled up bottles, than it dropped to a lower level through another steal pipe creating a shower underneath, just perfect!

The next day, after the tide got too low for a good break to surf on we packed up again to drive into more Portugal!