Praia do Carvalho - Hidden natural beach with surprising rock architecture
Praia do Carvalho lies completely surrounded by rocks, to the south of the town of Lagoa on the Algarve. It would only be accessible by sea or by abseiling down the cliff faces if it wasn't for the fact that somebody had created a path to this beautiful corner of the earth for us. A hand-carved tunnel a good 15 metres long leads through the rocks. Having walked a few hundred metres from the car park in the heat, you then have to watch out that you don't trip or bump your head. Once you get to the other side though, a pearl of a beach spreads out in front of you which more than makes the effort worthwhile.
Although the completely natural, unspoiled beach is wonderful and only 40 metres long, the area of light sand never gets so crowded that it is cramped. There are more attractions here than just the turquoise blue water, the craggy cliffs, which provide natural shade, and the marine fossils in the stone. Whoever was responsible for the tunnel through the rocks didn't stop there - they also created a sort of balcony a few metres above the water and a set of steps leading to it. It's a wonderful spot from which to fling yourself bravely into the water.
Another highlight that is a feature of the beach is the rock that looks like an obelisk or a statue and embellishes the view just off shore. If you're confident enough to swim the almost 80 metres out to it you should make sure you have enough puff to get back because there are no lifeguards on duty to haul you out of the water. You should also keep your distance from the cliff faces because there can be rock falls from time to time.