Comporta beach was the sensation of this summer. No other destination in Europe created such a buzz among the hip traveler crowd as the turquoise waters of Comporta, which is located only 120 km to the south of Lisbon.
It had been a while that I wanted to see this beauty with my own eyes but for some reason I always postponed it. Not this year. I went! Yeah!!! And of course I will share all the best beaches, coolest restaurants and amazing places to stay with you.
The Comporta beach is at Herdade da Comporta, in the Alentejo region – we are talking about 12km of beautiful blue ocean with white shiny sand, surrounded by dunes, costal vegetation and huge irrigated rice plantations that make the whole scenario totally green and vibrant all year long. Herdade da Comporta is a natural reserve used for agriculture and tourism with a sustainable development strategy and that comprises the Comporta beach, Pego beach, Carvalhal beach, Torre beach, Brejos beach and 8 little villages: Carrasqueira, Cambado, Possanco, Comporta, Brejos, Lagoas, Torre e Carvalhal. All of those places together are the Comporta, not only the beach or the little village that carries that name. The area is owned and managed by Espírito Santo, the most important Portuguese banking group.
Called the “anti-Algarve” by the New York Times, the Comporta is deliberately undeveloped and keeps that “unexplored” feeling that we hardly find nowadays: not so many tourists, the beach is not crowded, no big resorts (this is about to change, I believe). Hippie.chic, boho… this is how I describe the vibe. Totally low profile and elegant with a hip clientele – families and young couples (I saw many locals, Brazilians, Spanish, French and English people), plus some more distinguished habitués like Madonna, Philippe Starck, Carla Bruni and Christian Louboutin.
I have heard every sort of comparison regarding Comporta: That it looks like José Ignácio in Uruguay, Like Tulum in Mexico, like Montauk in the Hamptons, like Ibiza in Spain and so on. I’d say I don`t agree with any. The closest would be José Ignácio but Comporta has its own style, it is unique and from 2017 on, part of my European summer hotlist.
I went with my husband and my parents and we were not in a party mode. Actually, there is no real partying besides some private events and sunsets. Our routine was mainly about enjoying the beach, lunch in a nice restaurant, a little walk in the village and “good night”. I guess 3 days is enough to get a good feeling about the place but it is much more relaxing when it is possible to stay 5-7 days.
The three main beaches, Comporta, Pego and Carvalhal, offer covered and uncovered parking space. It costs 3 Euros per day on week days and 4 Euros on weekends. It can be hard to find a spot if you come after 10:00 during the high season. By the way, a car/motorcycle/buggy is necessary to go around. Depending on your accommodation`s location, it is possible to go to the beach by bike.
The beaches don’t differ a lot one from the other concerning nature. I will list the ones I had time to visit:
– Comporta Beach
Love this one. I was there during the second week of August, which is considered high season in Europe, and the beach was very tranquil , not crowded at all. Right at the “entrance”, before the long deck that crosses the dunes to get to the beach, there is a kiosk selling local and international magazines + some beach props and an open air shower to help visitors to get clean before the ride home.
The water looks like it is from another dimension: so blue, pristine, clean. The sand is white, soft, so enjoyable. Summers are mild and the water was a bit too cold for me to swim. Nevertheless, many people were swimming during the whole time we were there.
Best way to enjoy the beach is to rent the beds or beach lounges (make sure to reserve during the high season – at Comporta Café) and this is what we did. We rented the conventional chairs + the umbrella, as the beds were all already taken. Of course you can take your own towel or chair and lay down anywhere. There is plenty of space.
– Comporta deserted beaches
At EN253-1 road, between Comporta and the Soltroia project, there are 5 entrances that cross the coastal vegetation over the dunes to take visitors to a beach where there is often nobody and nothing besides some little houses. It is necessary to park the car in the road and walk around 10 minutes along the dunes. Beautiful. Recommended for people who like being in “extreme” contact with nature. Haha!
– Pego Beach
White sand, cabanas, lounges (for rent) and a peaceful sea are the name of the game at my favourite beach. It is even calmer and emptier than its neighbour Comporta (not the deserted one, of course). Same “modus operandi”: deck to cross the dunes at the entrance, huge sandy beach. Its look and feel is not so different from Carvalhal and Comporta, to be honest.
Only one restaurant – the extremely famous Sal – and one beach bar. Take your sunscreen, a good book and you will not need much more.
– Carvalhal Beach
No monotony at this beach. There is a massage tent (20 Euros/20 minutes), a volleyball net, a library. It is nice but Comporta and Pego are even better.
– Torre Beach
Semi-deserted. Leave the car in Torre and walk in between the rice plantations towards the dunes, cross the dunes and find seaaaa! Haha! We didn’t go but it is on my list.
– Pinheiro da Cruz Beach
It is only accessible by foot, from its neighbour beaches, Pego and Aberta Nova. I didn’t go bout heard it is a long walk. Next time.
Best restaurant for lunch at Comporta. Extra popular, cool meeting point and elected by Condé Nast Traveler as the best beach bar in 2015, Sal restaurant is on the dunes and offers an amazing view of the sea. The ambience is simple, informal and the food, specially the fish is fresh and delicious (sold per Kg). Try the aioli squid and the fish soup. Side dishes include local specialties. Everything was tasty. Reserve a table on the terrace with a view of the sea as seating inside is not that much fun. Have a look at the boutique. At Pego beach.
– Comporta Café
The owner, Luís Carvalho, is an habitué since he is a child and he opened the restaurant in 2002. The concept is to be “home away from home”. Hippie-chic feeling with a sea view – the lounge is great for some sunset drinks + snacks (DJ playing from 16:30 until 20:30) while the restaurant is wow for lunch serving meals prepared with local ingredients, mainly rice and sea food. At Comporta beach.
Check dates in advance as there are often private events at Comporta Café.
– Ilha do Arroz
Exactly at the opposite side of Comporta Cafe, at the beach. Also a good option, a bit more formal though. Order the white sangria with one of the tasty salads and rice dishes. Reserve for lunch, outside, with a view to the sea. At Comporta beach.
A beach bar serving drinks, coconut water, beer and some sandwiches and snacks. It is located in between Comporta Cafe and Ilha do Arroz, also at the beach. There are chairs and even nets. At Comporta beach.
– Piadinas Zanotta
The cute modern yellow food truck is new in Comporta. Always busy at the end of the day serving salty and sweet piadinas. At Largo de São João.
– Museu do Arroz
A classic at Comporta. Fantastic option for dinner and drinks. It occupies and old rice warehouse for more than 20 years and serves traditional dishes with a modern twist and beautiful presentation. We had fun with “pastéis de bacalhau” (cod pastry) and stayed until late sipping some caipirinhas as the atmosphere was really fun. Reserve. At Estrada Nacional 261 Km 0.
– Dona Bia
Another classic for dinner. Don`t even think about going without a reservation during high season. Offers rice dishes and sea food. I didn’t go because despite all the amazing recommendations and reviews, I didn’t really connect. Maybe next time. In Torre.
– Sem Porta
Main restaurant at Sublime hotel. Seasonal kitchen and organic ingredients from the garden with an influence from Alentejo. Chef Manuel Maldonado will be responsible for the menu from September on. Reserve. In Muda.
– Beach! Beach! Beaaaaaaaach!
This is what I came for.
– Bird watching
There is a great bird variety in the region, including flamingos and lots and lots of storks and their nests.
– Horse riding at the beach
The company “Cavalos na areia” organizes rides which depart from Zona da Torre (between Comporta and Carvalhal) and lead you through rice fields, the beach and some dunes.
– Walk around the villages and the rice fields
The region is beautiful and totally worthy to explore. The little villages are cute with the typical white and blue houses from Alentejo. Find some interesting shops in Comporta.
– Dolphins watching
Company “Vertigem azul” organizes boat tours.
People who follow me here and on Instagram know that I am not the type of person that goes on a shopping rampage while traveling but, of course, I always “have a look” at what is out there. Nevertheless, I was with my mom in Comporta and she is crazy for shopping. Guess what? I entered every single little shop. And don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret it.
All we saw was really true to the village style – no pomposity. Hahaha! Walk around the Largo de São João. The list:
Looks like a little cabana and sells tunics, swimwear, bags, sandals and even home utensils.
– Fio de Água
Found Lenny Niemeyer bikinis in this store!!!
– Loja do Museu de Arroz
Rustic. Things for the house, tunics, cushions, etc.
Cool store selling tunics, beach bags, sandals, accessories, etc.
Cool seasonal boutique. Also present in Lisbon, Cascais, Porto and Algarve.
Maya inspiration and mora than 10 years in the market selling pieces made by Guatemalan families.
Find perfumes made in Comporta and with names inspired by Comporta.
Also sells Lenny bikinis! Yay! And more.
There are only a few hotels in the area and renting a villa is a great idea.
– Sublime Hotel
The luxurious hotel at Herdade da Comporta. It belongs to the same owner of L’And, where I stayed while visiting the wine region of Alentejo (lots of photos on Instagram).
I found it beautiful and would love to stay in a villa with a pool. Gorgeous!
– Casas na Areia
Über cool project by Manuel Aires Mateus, it started as a vacation home and eventually became a small hotel. There are four houses, two made of wood and two made out of concrete. Rustic. The property has a pool, horses, bikes and kayaks.
– 3 Bicas
Master secret in Comporta. It is a sophisticated glass and concrete house featuring Eames furniture and totally environmentally friendly. Two houses: One for more than 10 people and the other, smaller, for 4.
– Almond Blossom Rental Villas
The renting company offers some luxury rentals around Comporta. Have a look at their website for what is available.
Always a good idea. There are villas with service (even a chef can be booked).
Around sunset time there are way too many mosquitos. Good time to stay home. Pack insect repellents and double check the conditions where you are staying. It didn’t ruin my days but it wasn’t fun.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, and drive one hour to the Herdade da Comporta. Good road, we saw no traffic jam. For the “brave” ones, it works to go on a day trip from Lisbon or Setúbal.
This is it! I look at these pictures and I can only start planning my next visit. Need it!!!
Hope you enjoyed the read and that you are traveling with me via Instagram @marineira.