160km stand up paddle expedition
self semi supported stand up paddle journey across the Algarve from Sagres to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. As far as we are aware, we were the first people to have done it.
If you’d like to skip straight to all 8 video episodes of our TransAlgarve stand up paddle journey then hop over to our special YouTube playlist.
We started on 3rd November 2015 at 11h15 – Finished on 10th November at 13h40.
Route and Accommodation
The route clearly depended on the wind forecasts. If it was westerley we would start at Sagres, if an easterly sprang up we would start in Vila Real Santo Antonio. As it happened Algarve SUP arranged pick ups from the airport and transport to Sagres. For the purposes of planning, we had assumed a westerly wind, but it didn’t entirely work out that way.
Embedded below is the Trans Algarve Google Map that explains the route we actually took. Note the big blue stripe that indicates our mid expedition vehicle transfer. We weren’t happy about it, but read on to see why it happened.
Our TransAlgarve brief itinerary
- Day 1 28km
Sagres to Lagos.
- Day 2 25km
Lagos to Benagil.
- Day 3 25km
Benagil to Falesia.
- Day 4 12km
Falesia to Garrão (Almançil)
- Day 5 15km
Garrão to Faro / Transfer / Ayamonte (Spain) to Monte Gordo
- Day 6 26km
Monte Gordo to Fuzeta
- Day 7 28km
Fuzeta to Faro
- Nick Robinson – Owner of Algarve SUP, certified ASI Stand Up Paddle instructor, surfed since he was 14, windsurfed, ex-river guide in South Africa, ex-game ranger in South Africa. He has worked in internet development and marketing for the 15 years he has been in Portugal before opening “Algarve SUP” in July 2014.
- Spike Reid – Spike worked at the UK’s Royal Geographic Society for several years, rubbing shoulders with such legendary explorers as Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Already a qualified mountain leader and worldwide adventurer, his encounter at the Society with Dave Cornthwaite (the Guinness world record holder for distance travelled on a paddleboard) led to him to join a team who circumnavigated Martinique on stand up paddle boards. He has since crossed the UK on a paddle board as well.
- Mauro Engler – A cool, quiet, laid back guy who has graduated from the University of the Algarve in sports science. He’s an accomplished surfer and a watersports instructor teaching surfing, stand up paddle and sailing.
We took dehydrated meals along that we prepared by boiling up water on a little gas stove and pouring it into the packet. After resealing them we ate out of the bag 5 minutes later. Voila, no dishes to wash up! The rest of our portable food larder consisted of nuts, raisins, other dried fruit, biltong and energy bars.
Porridge was a staple for breakfast and its so easy to make. Throw in a banana and some honey and you’re on your way to a culinary delight. Add nuts and raisins and it rivals any breakfast for nutrition and taste.
Side-note: Spike is writing a book on 360 ways to make a porridge. I for one am looking forward to it!
A few people were asking on social media what this “TransAlgarve” thing was all about. I decided to create a little video explaining some of the items of preparation. Here you go:
Trans Algarve kit list
Change of clothes for shore
[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
1 or 2 spare paddles
1 or 2 pumps
First aid kit
Daily TransAlgarve Diary
02 Day One
Sagres to Lagos (28km)
After being delayed by a mother of a storm, we headed down to Sagres early on Tuesday morning, November 3rd 2015.
Thanks to my good buddy, Philipos the Greek, we arrived safe and sound and set off for Lagos from Sagres at 11h15, paddling all the way through the afternoon to arrive in Lagos at 16h15. We worked out later that this was a 28km paddle. Good one guys!
Now check out the video from day one:
03 Day Two
Lagos to Benagil (25km)
After enduring a crazy night filled with sand, thieves, hamburgers and light rain, we set off for our lunch time destination (Ferragudo) under a threatening sky. It poured down moments after we started but we pushed on through grim weather listening to Spike’s wise words “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear!”
After a mind blowing chicken sandwich at Club Nau in Ferragudo we headed out for Benagil and the weather cleared up beautifully. Although I think the video says its better:
04 Day Three
Benagil to Falesia (25km)
Benagil Beach is smack bang in the middle of probably the most exotic coastline in the Algarve. We threaded our way through stacks of sandstone. Pillars of rock towered over us as we peered into cave after cave, hesitating to enter due to the rolling swell. I’d prefer to be cautious than caught out.
Check out Mauro’s coffee time somersault in the video! Impressive.
05 Day Four
Falesia to Garrão (12km)
Breaking through a crystal clear shore break we pushed out into an idyllic autumn day. The sun shone strongly and we were sweating by the time we passed the entrance to the Vilamoura Marina. A light breeze sprung up but freshened within a matter of minutes.
By the time we had finished a big greasy English breakfast (courtesy of a cafe in Quarteira), the wind was pushing ten knots and we were struggling straight into it. Five and a half kilometres later we were ready for a beer and we holed up in Izzy’s Beach Bar and Restaurant for the rest of the day, resolving to awake early and make Faro before the predicted easterlies started up.
The plan was to change tack and transfer to Spain and return with the winds back to Faro.
06 Day Five
Garrão to Faro /transfer to Ayamonte /Ayamonte to Praia Verde (12km)
We managed an early start and were out on the water before the sun rose, foregoing breakfast with the promise of a big one on Faro Island. Everything went according to plan and after an hour we had paddled the 6 kms to Faro Island.
The TransAlgarve team settled in for a big breakfast and awaited the “AlgarveSUP van”. We were to be transferred over to Spain to start on the second leg of our journey back to Faro.
See how we felt about this plan in the video…
07 Day Six
Monte Gordo/Praia Verde to Fuzeta (26km)
Rising with the sun and the sizzling aroma of Mauro’s porridge we suspiciously eyed out the surf. It had swelled in the night and was now breaking wide across the entire bay with no visible channels through the white water. One huge gnarly beach break. It didn’t look too bad but once we were chest deep in surf our baggage was ripped off, bungee cords broke, D-rings were ripped off and Spike’s fin suffered more damage. We resolved to walk the 5kms to the start of the Ria Formosa and trudged along the soft sand.
It was tough.
Our packs were heavy and after a kilometre those boards seemed to weigh a ton. Relieved we finally made it to the pleasure of flat water and coasted across the Rio Formosa. The wind was at our backs and we delighted in the way the tail wind shifted us past Cabanas de Tavira, Tavira, Santa Luzia, Luz de Tavira and finally on to Fuzeta.
08 Day Seven
Fuzeta to Faro (28km)
We awoke and broke our island camp before an unbelievable sunrise glittered over the sands. We paddled westwards as the sun topped the horizon, resolving to enjoy a hearty breakfast on Armona Island. It was 10kms away and we arrived ravenous.
After breakfast we looped past the major town of Olhão and once again the wind picked, this time to about 20knots. Downwind paddling is so much more enjoyable than struggling into a stiff breeze and the three of us cut straight through the coastal lagoon. The Ria Formosa was brimming with water as high tide approached. This paddle was definitely the most productive, with us completing 28kms before lunch. I’m convinced that if you hit the westerly winds right in August you could cross the Algarve in a few days.
If you’d like to know anything more, just drop a question in the comments. We’d love you guys to try it.
Let us know if you’re keen?