Of rocky coastlines and nude beaches and beautiful strangers and full moon beaches in Lagos.

“An ocean breeze puts a mind at ease”

Friday, August 11, 2017
Lagos, Portugal

This past summer I did a spur of the moment trip to Portugal…. Before I left, I quickly did a bit of investigating to see where I wanted to go in Portugal, other than Lisbon. I had heard nothing but good things about everything Portugal-related.
I could venture to the hills and stay in Sintra.. which was supposed to be a a day-trip from Lisbon that had a fairy-tale-like palace and old-style medieval streets, forests and castle ruins, lush gardens and fresh air, all atop one of the many hills in and around Lisbon.
I could venture a tad south to Cascais… a little beach town with some alluring beaches and upscale vibes. It was another day-trip option from Lisbon…
I could venture north to Porto and sample some of their famous wine..
OR
I could go south to the magical Algarve Coast.
And that I did.
And tho I nearly missed my flight back due to wildfires preventing the train from going any further and being stuck in the middle of nowhere Portugal with less than 5 hours until my flight left and knowing it was at least an hour or two drive to get to Lisbon and with no idea how long the roads/railways would be up and working again…
But I digress.
I took the bus down south. It took what seemed like forever.. driving through a lot of nothing.. and then we got to the coast.. and my excitement grew as I saw palm trees and the sea just beyond.. the white-washed houses that made me reminisce of my adventures on the various Greek Islands.
Finally I arrived in Lagos. At the bus station. Which was pretty much a garage that held 2-3 buses if that.
I walked out into the scorching sun, not caring about the heaviness of my backpack, my heart soaring. I walked down the boardwalk, an inlet leading to marinas on one side and booths of souvenirs and trinkets and beach blankets and everything you could imagine made out of cork and bathing suits and cover ups with booth after booth of different companies selling kayak trips, boat trips, booze cruises and snorkeling on the other side.
There was a nice seaside breeze that kept the heat from being unbearable. The smell of the air reminded me of California coast. I sighed with happiness.
I made my way to the hostel that I had booked last minute, unable to find a couchsurfer.
I had booked a 4 bedroom dorm, deciding to treat myself to all the luxuries this trip since it was the big trip of the summer.
Of course, when I got there, they had overbooked and put me in a 10 bed room.
I was a tad peeved, but quickly shoved aside the negativity my brain bustled with and headed up to the pool (yes they had a POOL!!)
but unfortunately it was nothing to write home about either. Yes it had a beautiful view. Beach chairs. A vending machine with beer.
But the make up of the people made me feel like I had stepped back in Alabama amongst the frat boys and sorority girls.  The guys shouted some inappropriate things at me, sloshing their beers around. The girls laughed as they lay back on their sun chairs surrounded by the beer guzzling good ol’ boys.
I quickly decided it was time to leave.
Explore.
And mannnnnn I was NOT disappointed!!
The beach started a 5 minute walk from the hostel door. I quickly made my way through a huge plaza with palm trees and a kids bungee jumping set up and along the crumbly white walls of the old town across the street and down the walkway down to the beach.
The sun was on its way to setting and the sand was basking in the last remnants of sunshine, glowing and golden. The waves were gentle and rolling. I was happy to see that it wasn’t too crowded… I could walk on the sand without the obstacle course of veering around towels and people. There were huge rocks popping out of the sand, reminding me vaguely of the Oregon Coast. The tide was up and there were people wading out, thigh high and climbing into a hole in one of the rocks and disappearing. Unfortunately, I had not dressed to get too wet so I had to wait for that adventure….
Due to the high tide, I was not able to walk too far and looped back to the roadway and walked along as it hugged the coast. There were various sketchy-looking stairs carved out of the rocky cliffside that led down to different coves. My breath was taken away. It was positively stunning.
I walked back to the hostel as the sun set, deciding what to do next. I recharged and refueled my phone and my body and debated what to do next.
“Wander the streets.. there are plenty of bars to hop into!”
Was the recommendation by many people.
I wandered the narrow alleys and little streets.  Within 10 minutes I decided that partying at a bar was on the bottom of my list of things to do.
I noticed the moon was full…. Full moon on the beach… sounded magical.
I walked back to the beach. This time the tide was very low and I was able to walk through a series of rocky caves and holes in the wall… No one was on the beach. The full moon shone brightly on the water making it sparkle and shine. It illuminated all of the rocks that peeped out of the water causing an eerie glow about them.
I wandered with my feet in the water, the cold was no bother this night. I was blissful.
As I went through one little hole in the wall, I heard chattering and drumming. There was the faint flicker of a bonfire up ahead. Laughter echoed up and down the cliffside. I was intrigued.
Remembering I had bought some Palinka from the duty-free shop back in Bucharest, I whipped it out of my bag.
I cautiously moved closer, assessing the vibes.
They seemed friendly. Laid back. Dressed in bohemian clothes and loose flowy fabric. A couple were huddled in a sleeping bag and there were two tents pitched nearby. AND they were speaking English.
Perfect.
“Hey ya’ll! Good evening! I see your tents here, does that mean it is possible to sleep down here on the sand?” I asked hesitantly as I got near, “By the way, I have some Palinka from Romania! Would you like some?”
There was a good ten seconds of heavy silence. Then the whole group descended into friendly laughter.
“Yeah sure! Come and have a seat!”
And I was in.
I had booked two nights at the hostel and the last night before I flew out of Lisbon I intentionally didn’t plan anything… wanting to decide in the moment if I wanted to stay down south or head back to Lisbon or Sintra…
So it was a legitimate question..
I had slept on the beach before..
There is nothing like sleepily waking to the sun cresting over the horizon above the sea and the gentle sound of the sea licking the sand. The sky aglow with colors.
So I spent that night chumming it up with this beautiful bunch of nomadic travelers. Each had their own story and journey to that particular beach that particular night. I was fascinated. They were fascinated with the fact that I chose Romania as a place to settle. We swapped stories…. shared drinks… and giggled the night away.
Eventually I made my way back to the hostel to sleep.
The next day I went off the pathways above the cliffs and discovered even more magnificent views and tucked away secret beaches. As I was stumbling around on one half-there path I noticed that there was a pathway through the rocks to the left that led down toward a beach. Then I noticed the cardboard sign that had the words “NUDE BEACH” scrawled in black marker with an arrow pointing down.
I did not hesitate and quickly scrambled down the rocks, half sliding most of the way. HOW EXCITING!!
When I finally hit the sand, I was greeted with another cardboard sign with “NUDE Beach” scrawled across and the most beautiful cove I had ever seen. The rocks extended out on either side so that straight in front there was an opening to the sea only about 4 meters wide. The water was the most beautiful shade of deep emerald. There were a few people laying about, fully embracing the Nude Beach philosophy. A few people were more conservative and kept partially covered.
It was a very hot day and I was quite exhausted and dusty from crawling around in the rocks. It didn’t take long for me to strip down and head on in. The water was just cold enough to send initial shock waves through my body and give me a jolt of energy.
It was a little slice of heaven. There were little shelves along the sides that were just big enough for me to climb up onto and jump off of.
I got back to the sand, hoping to let the sun dry me off a bit before I continued on.
Not too long after I got out, an older, leathery, super tan old man, about 60 years of age, came up to me.
He was naked.
Talking in Portuguese.
He was obviously “excited” if you know what I mean.
I didn’t know where to look.
I didn’t know what to say.
He was very enthusiastically gesturing at the rocky cliffisides, obviously wanting to share with me his keenness of something…
I stood stunned for a few minutes, letting him talk. A fake smile plastered on my face, not sure what else to do or what expression to use.
“I’m sorry… I don’t understand… I don’t speak Portuguese.”
I mumbled in English… then in Spanish…
He threw back his head full of silver hair and laughed as though I was the most hysterical person on earth.
I pointed back towards my clothes and tried to explain to him that I needed to go. I attempted to use hand gestures to explain to him that I needed to get dressed… go back up the cliff… walk to the city… and drink coffee…
I’m not sure how much of it he understood, though he was staring intently at my wild gestures. He let out his loud laugh again and made a hand motion as though to wave me away.
And away I went.
Back to my clothes.
Back up the cliff.
But ohhhhh that day… that wild overgrown maze of pathways above the cliffsides… every time I ventured to the edge of an outcropping, I was gifted with what I thought was the most beautiful view of anything I had seen. Until I got to the next “viewpoint”
The rocky cliffsides were sandy and light tan in some places, grey and solid rock in others. The water ranged from clear to turquoise to emerald green.
Some of the cliffisdes, if you got close to them, they were freckled with fossilized shells. I was fascinated.
I did not want to leave.
I did a kayak tour through different lagoons and caves and secret beaches. I slept on the beach the last night with a friend I had met on the kayak tour and we stayed up with the nomadic travelers and drummed, drank, talked, sang, and laughed the night away. We all fell into a groggy hazy sleep until the sun emerged from under the horizon and we all stood up, wrapped up in our own blankets, our feet at the edge of the sand, the waves kissing the tops of our toes gently as we stayed there in shared awe and silence. All lost in our own thoughts. All of us would be leaving that day. Each to a different place. Each at different times. Each for different reasons.
But that night and the ones previous, our hearts smiled together as we shared the beach in the moonlight together.
I didn’t get any of their contacts. No phone numbers. No facebook friends.
We just left it as that time in Lagos. Those nights where we all shared our stories and made music and danced in the firelight under the full moon.
And it was perfect.
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One of the many beautiful beaches in Lagos. :)) The giant rocks in the water are slightly reminiscent of those on the Oregon Coast… though the vibes and temperature and culture and water are completely different…

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There were so many beautiful shells scattered around in the sand….

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One of the many “Hole in the Wall”‘s that one could walk through (when it isn’t high tide) to get from one beach to another.

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Fossilized shells in the rocks!! I spent a lot of time admiring all the different shells hidden in the rocks…

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One of the most beautiful nude beaches I have ever been too…

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These were down at the nude beach… Made out of some of the clay that rested between the sand and the cliffside. I got the vibes that the creepy (but good intentioned) old dude who tried to talk to me lived here and these were some of his creations.

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One after the other these views literally took my breath away… The Algarve coast is certainly one of a kind. Definitely worth a visit and an adventure. Stunning coastline and briskly cool waters and lagoons and coves and ohhhhhhh I could go on and on and on…

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This was one of the secret beaches we came to on the kayak ride. We stopped here for 10 minutes and I spent the entire time snorkeling along the edges looking for an octopus sleeping in a crevice…. but sadly found none 😦

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