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Peniche and Berlengas Island together are an absolutely lovely weekend getaway destination from Lisbon. Peniche is a small but cozy seaside town and an excellent surfing destination in the province of Oeste, less than a two-hour bus ride north of Lisbon. In addition to the wonderful atmosphere of this fishing town, you can enjoy good water sports and long beaches, historical sights and, best of all, the Berlengas Islands, a coastal archipelago and nature reserve.
My friend and I went to Peniche for a fun weekend getaway last fall and the warm weather, beautiful seaviews and idyllic atmosphere pampered us all weekend long. We stayed in a small but functional apartment in the center and there was a short walk to every place.
All in all, Peniche is a nice place to stay in, and it’s really not so easy to go and find something terribly bad to say about the place at all. The city has nice cafes and small boutiques to see and enjoy among other things and yes I could come back here, just because why not?
WHAT TO DO IN PENICHE?
Peniche is a fishing town, so the absolute number one is to enjoy the many restaurant’s creations of fish and seafood, which is not hard to find. The harbor is a cozy place to enjoy a day out and enjoy walking in the fresh sea air and the sights of Peniche are all within easy walking distance. The most important of these are the Catholic Church of Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, the churches of São Pedro da Misericórdia near the port area and the Peniche Fort.
The fort of Peniche was built in the 16th and 17th centuries to defend the coast, together with the fortress of Consolação Beach and the fortress of the Berlengas Islands. The fortress has played a large part in Portuguese history many times, but its most recent purpose has been to serve as a political prison for many big figures in the fight against fascism. The fortress now serves as a museum where you can learn more about these subjects and history.
The Berlengas archipelago is a nature reserve off the coast of Peniche and the islands are uninhabited, although the main island has a small supply of restaurants and accommodation for visitors. Berlengas is a popular destination for divers due to its rich marine life and for at least part of the year the Berlengas Fort serves as a hostel offering those looking for a slightly different and more interesting accommodation an excellent setting to relax in the stunning seascapes.
Throughout history, Berlengas has been a place of visit for example the Vikings and later a refuge for the shipwrecked because of the monastery on the island called Misericórdia da Berlenga, that the munks started. Since then, the Berlengas fortress was built on the island to protect the coast, and by the middle of the 17th century, the fortress had secured as many as three attacks against barbarian pirates. Berlengas ’lighthouse, now powered by solar panels, was built on the island in the 19th century, and with the help of existing solar panels, the lighthouse offers visibility of up to more than 50 kilometers.
HOW TO GET TO BERLENGAS?
Berlengas can be reached by boat or in the form of a guided excursion, which most people usually prefer in this case. Various guided day trips to Berlengas are organized directly from the port of Peniche, which includes everything from boat trips to the knowledge of the guide as well as additional offerings, such as a cave tour. You can bring your own lunch or dine on site, but we preferred snacks ourselves and the choice was good, as the limited restaurant offer is quite non-existent and there can be plenty of people there. The island has good places for a picnic with great views and it is also possible to stop to swim and soak up the sun, for example in the picturesque clear water cove.
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<3: Tiina Johanna
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Ilha Do Sal and its cozy and relaxed beach atmosphere offers its best with wonderful turquoise clear ocean views, long sandy beaches and hot rhythms all year round. Ilha Do Sal is one of Cape Verde’s most popular holiday islands and most of the island’s tourism is almost invariably concentrated in the southern tip of the seaside town of Santa Maria.
Cape Verde islands are located about 600 kilometers off the coasts of West Africa and Senegal, and each of Cape Verde’s ten islands are different. The islands of Sal and Boa Vista are the most popular for tourists due to their stunning beaches and good holiday settings, but the other islands also offer very interesting things to see and do, from beautiful beaches to magnificent green mountain sceneries, adorable fishing villages and of course local culture, history and ordinary city life. It is popular to travel to the islands for various types of fun water sports, especially surfing and kite surfing. Cape Verde is also an easy destination for those who wish to do island hopping to explore more than just one island during the same trip.
ILHA DO SAL, A BEACH PARADISE FOR A RELAXING LIFESTYLE
As I mentioned already in the previous article, this time I’m going to dig a little more deeper into what Sal Island has to offer with its attractions, things to do and a little bit of the different places of the island. The general vibes and my first thoughts about the island of Sal can be read from the previous post and with this you can already get the best pieces in your back pocket for your own future trips to the fantastic Cape Verde islands.
Santa Maria is the place to be for travelers. Santa Maria’s colorful main street and surrounding areas offer restaurants, bars and cafés for all tastes, and the city’s small but feisty nightlife can also be found along this main street. Santa Maria’s beaches are long light sandy beaches with turquoise sea water glistening in the background far into the horizon and colorful, wooden fishing boats brighten the beach landscape nicely next to the iconic Santa Maria Pier. In addition to being able to admire the local fishermen at work on that pier, there is also a popular tradition of jumping off the pier into the sea, at least once in a lifetime, or, like some the locals, almost every week. This tradition still awaits its performer on my behalf, but maybe next time, maybe…
Santa Maria is a great base for exploring the rest of the island, with services and restaurants working well every day of the week. On the island, traveling is possible in a very short time from place to place, as the length of the island from one end to the other is only about 30 kilometers. Trips are easily done either with your own car or with a travel agency, or as I like to do, on a local bus, which is already in itself a fun experience and a highly recommended one. The price from Santa Maria, for example, to the capital Espargos with the local bus is only 1 euro / way and the buses leave from the bus stop. There are no actual timetables for the buses, as they leave when they get full.
My own favorite attraction in Santa Maria is its secret gem Shell Cemetery Beach, or in my own words, the Seashell beach. The Seashell beach can be found in front of The Budha Beach Hotel, about 1.5km from Santa Maria Pier, walking the road easily along the beachside in less than 20 minutes (see map below). Shell Cemetery Beach is a completely free “attraction” where it’s fun to explore the seashells, walk and sit back and enjoy the sounds of the ocean.
Espargos is the capital of the island of Sal and it is located in the middle of the island, where you will also find Sal Airport. The highest point of Espargos is Monte Curral Hill, which rises to a height of 109 meters and from where it is nice to enjoy the views down to the city. Sal is quite rugged and dry and you can see this very clearly from above.
It is very easy to do a day trip to Espargos on your own from Santa Maria by bus, as I mentioned earlier. Espargos is a local and cozy town, although there is not much to do here except for small boutiques and restaurants and other normal everyday things. However, Espargos is a great break from the more touristic hustle and bustle of Santa Maria, when you just want to walk around in peace, relax and just enjoy being “somewhere else”. As it is the capital city, it is also a must visit place and I personally enjoy Espargos a lot every time I go there. On my next trip in June, I’ll be spending even more time in Espargos, so stay tuned for some extra vibes of this city by following my social media channels.
Palmeira is a lovely small town on the west coast of the island of Sal, about four kilometers from the capital Espargos. Palmeira is the island’s main port and here you can enjoy the charm of a small fishing town. Palmeira is one of my own favorite places to visit for a day, as the relaxing and calm vibes of the place feel really nice and the local atmosphere provides a good balance for the more touristic and lively Santa Maria. Here I just like to watch the local fishermen at work and the best part is when the kids come to the harbor to jump off the pier to play their water games and whatever they only come up with. That genuine joy and energy is contagious.
The village of Murdeira is also located on the west coast of Sal, about nine kilometers from Espargos. Murdeira was originally a region for mostly farmers and fishermen, but in the late 1990s a bigger tourist settlement was built in the area, and nowadays the houses are mostly owned by locals and other people who have found their way to this place. This small community and village is located in a cove in the Murdeira Bay, which is also a nature reserve known for its small coral reef and rich marine life.
BURACONA AND THE BLUE EYE
The small bay of Buracona is located about five kilometers north of Palmeira and is part of the protected landscape of Buracona-Ragona, which covers the coastal area between Palmeira and Ponta Preta and the Monte Leste mountain. In Buracona, the attraction is its natural pool, which is formed by the power of the sea in the middle of volcanic rocks. However, Buracona’s best-known attraction is the Blue Eye, “Olho Azul”, a deep cave with water at the bottom. When the rays of the sun hit the cave and the water, the sight is just like a bright blue eye. Unfortunately, on my own trip to Buracona, I didn’t see this Eye because the sun wasn’t really shining that day, but next time then. Hah.
PEDRA DE LUME
The village of Pedra de Lume is located on the east coast of Sal, about five kilometers from Espargos. Pedra de Lume has both a small harbor and a lighthouse, but its most famous attraction is its saltwater pools, where it is also possible to float and experience the refreshing and healing power of saltwater. The saltwater pools are located inside the old volcanic crater and the crater and pools are part of a protected area along with Mount Cagarral. Salt ponds flourished in the late 18th century and the best periods of the salt production continued until the end of the 19th century, after which the value of salt production was no longer the same anymore. Today, tourism is the largest and most important source of livelyhood on the island.
Shark Bay is my own favorite attraction on the island of Sal, because here it is possible to walk in the ocean with Lemon sharks and see these beautiful animals in nature and up close. Lemon sharks come here to eat fish and plankton and care for their babies and they are not a danger to humans. Sharks may come very close, especially if there aren’t many people present, and the babies especially can come swimming between your legs because they are small enough to swim in the shallows. You should definetely come to Shark Bay in the form of a guided tour * to get more information about the sharks and the area. Water slippers are rented on site for 2e, as the bottom is rocky and not easy to walk barefoot.
CHECK OUT THE BEST ACTIVITIES AND TRIPS ON THE SAL ISLAND HERE:
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<3: Tiina Johanna
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