Marinas in the Algarve
There is an ancient and strong connection between man and sea, particlularly in the Algarve. Colourfully painted boats and fishermen mending their nets is an iconic image of the region. Over the last century, the arrival of tourism in the Algarve meant that most of the fishing industry has been replaced with recreational uses of the coast. The pretty little boats have been replaced with much larger, modern yachts and powerboats. Naturally this has caused a number of marinas to spring up, becoming a major part of the social life in the Algarve. Like a kind of hearth, they often form the heart of towns and resorts with restaurants, bars and leisure activities based there.
At most marinas along the coast, there are different areas of use. There are the fishing boats and other working craft, usually backed by small fishing cottages, and then there are the pleasure crafts as well as the boats running regular boat trips to explore the coastline. Diving and sailing schools also have a presence here. Back on shore you will find restaurants, cafés and bars lining the wharfsides offering lovely views of all those boats. For the touring sailor there are marina facilities and apartments right on the front.
The most popular marinas are listed below with some of their prominent features:
The Vilamoura marina was built in 1974 as part of an ambitious and extensive resort complex including golf courses, hotels and villas all set within a huge park. It is the largest in the Algarve with 825 berths for yachts and boats. The marina is home to some seriously impressive yachts and serves the Vale do Lobo - Quinta do Lago area as well as Vilamoura itself.
As the focus of Vilamoura, the marina comes to life in the evenings, the large esplanade filled with restaurants, bars and shops. A casino sits at one end and beautiful beaches and trendy beach bars are only moments away. The marina has a number of facilities including a sailing school, boat tours and attracts international sailing competitions as well as classic car rallies.
Vilamoura marina is a great location for a relaxed evening of people watching on one of the big restaurant terraces right on the edge of the marina. You can watch some impressive yachts and powerboats come and go.
The marina at Lagos is home to some shops and a number of restaurants and bars. Seperated from the town itself by a long canal that forms the entrance to the marina, access on foot is via a large radio controlled drawbridge - an attractions in it's own right.
There is room for 462 berths at the marina and the centre also features a small sailing school, diving centre and plenty of boat rides and attractions to choose from. The amazing caves and grottoes of Ponta de Piedade are nearby and there are plenty of boats that will take you there.
Behind the marina you can see the old Lagos train station, a once charming building, and next to it the modern one, forming the final terminus for train journeys in the southwest of Europe!
This is a playfully colourful marina with apartments like pastel lego blocks surrounding the actual marina. Albufeira marina opened in 2003 with 475 berths for yachts. It also has a number of shops, services, café’s and bars and in the summer is a popular place to while away a few hours.
Located to the West of Albuferia town, there is a local bus service connecting the two and the walk from the old town to the marina is quite pleasant with great views from the hilltops. Special mention for a special boat - Sir Cliff Richard berths his boat here - and it's available for charter.
The city of Portimão is situated alongside the estuary of the river Arade and the marina forms part of Praia da Rocha’s waterfront.
Waters in the Portimão harbour are deeper than most other points along the coast and this enables larger vessels to come and dock on wharfside including catamarans and superyachts. slightly further upriver form the marina large cruisers carrying thousands of passengers can dock at the commercial port.
The marina is popular with professional yachting crews training for international tournaments and is also home to professional diving facilities as well as a sailing school. Here you will find the brand new attraction of a diving reef built from sunken warships. You can read about this exciting new venture here.
There are plenty of restaurants and some bars that have unrivalled views of the sea in a trendy setting. Within a short distance of the marina are hotels, beaches and apartments as well as the conveniences of Portimão itself.