The best independent guide to Praia da Rocha
The best independent guide to Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is a lively resort town that sits on one of the finest beaches of the central Algarve.
This magnificent beach extends for over 1.2km and boasts a vast expanse of golden sands, surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs.
Praia da Rocha beach is suitable for families and young children, with clean seawaters that are supervised by lifeguards. For teenagers and thrill-seeking couples, there are many exciting sea activities (such as banana boat rides, parasailing and kayaks).
To the rear of the beach is a variety of social beach bars and outstanding restaurants, with the beach being lively from dawn to dusk.
Praia da Rocha is the most popular beach of the region, but there are many other stunning beaches to discover during your holiday. These include the secluded coves near Vau, the deserted stretches of sand to the east of Alvor, or the pristine beaches south of Ferragudo.
If you are at the early stages of planning your holiday to Praia da Rocha and want to know if the beaches are fantastic, then the simple answer is yes.
This article will detail the best beaches of the Praia da Rocha region, helping you get the most from your beach trip.
Related articles: Praia da Rocha introduction
The glorious Praia da Rocha beach
The five best beaches of the Praia da Rocha region are:
1) Praia da Rocha 2) Praia dos Três Irmãos 3) Praia do Vau 4) Praia dos Caneiros 5) Praia Grande (Ferragudo)
The interactive map below shows all of the beaches within 3km of Praia da Rocha:
Legend: 1) Praia da Torralta 2) Praia dos Três Irmãos 3) Praia do Alemão 4) Praia do Vau 5) Praia dos Careanos 6) Praia do Amado 7) Praia dos Três Castelos 8) Praia da Rocha 9) Praia da Angrinha 10) Praia Grande 11) Praia do Molhe 12) Praia dos Caneiros 13) Praia da Afurada (only accessible by boat or kayak)
Note: Between Três Irmãos (2) and Alemão (3) is a rocky headland, marked by the yellow line. Within the headland are many small but inaccessible beaches. Some of these can be clambered down or kayaked to, but they haven't been included as they are not easily accessible.
The best beaches of the Praia da Rocha region:
1) The Praia da Rocha – The largest beach of the region and always a hive of activity during the summer
2) Praia dos Três Castelos – An idyllic beach set at the base of towering cliffs
3) Praia do Vau – A beautiful sandy beach with calm seawater and a relaxed atmosphere
4) Praia dos Caneiros – Tranquil beach on the much quieter eastern side of the Arade River
5) Praia Grande – A vast beach that extends along the eastern side of the Arade River Estuary.
The weather is suitable for spending time on Praia da Rocha's beaches from the middle of May until the end of September. There can be good weather outside of this period, but it is less certain.
The peak season is during July and August, and this is when the beaches will be at their most packed. Fortunately, the vast size of the Praia da Rocha means that there is always plenty of space.
The water temperature in the Algarve is always chilly and only reaches a maximum of 22C in the hot summer months, as it feeds in from the Atlantic Ocean.
There are three major beaches that are within walking distance of Praia da Rocha; the Praia da Rocha, the Praia dos Tres Castelos and the Praia do Vau.
Praia da Rocha
Praia da Rocha is the best beach in the region and the reason why the town of Praia da Rocha has grown into such a popular holiday destination.
The beach extends between the mouth of the Arade River and a huge headland to the west. This limestone headland shelters the beach from any prevailing winds and reduces the powerful waves and currents that roll in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Praia da Rocha beach is suitable for body-boarding and even surfing in the winter. During the summer, the beach is supervised by lifeguards.
This is a lively beach with banana boat rides, parasailing and jet skiing available, along with a giant inflatable in the sea. Sunbeds and parasols can be hired (20 euros per day), but there is plenty of space if you wish to bring your own towels and sunshades.
The Praia da Rocha is a wonderful beach, and it is easy to understand why many visitors do not explore the coastline further.
Big waves do roll onto the eastern side of the Praia da Rocha beach
Praia da Rocha beach will be busy in the summer months
Praia dos Tres Castelos
Heading west from the Praia da Rocha, the cliffs rise up and the beaches narrow, nestling below the rock face. The Praia dos Tres Castelos is the largest of the three cliff beaches and is the closest to Praia da Rocha.
The beach is named after the three rocky outcrops in the sea – 'the three castles'. It boasts an idyllic, natural setting surrounded by golden limestone cliffs and is a great place to try snorkelling between the rocks.
The Praia do Amado and Praia dos Careanos are very similar to the Praia dos Tres Castelos, but tend to be slightly quieter. The Praia dos Careanos is highly recommended for a scenic and relaxing beach day within walking distance of Praia da Rocha.
The Praia dos Tres Castelos at low tide – when the sea comes in, it is much smaller
The beautiful Praia dos Careanos
Praia do Vau
At the Praia do Vau, the cliffs lessen, and the beach fills a small valley. This is a very pretty beach, with soft sands and calm seawater.
It is another fantastic beach, which makes a great alternative to Praia da Rocha. Vau is a 20-minute walk (1.8km) from central Praia da Rocha, with the route following the scenic cliff-top footpath.
Beyond the small headland of the Praia do Vau is the Praia do Alemão.
The Praia do Alemão and the Praia do Vau to the rear
The Praia dos Caneiros
Praia dos Caneiros is one of the finest beaches of the Lagoa region.
This stunning beach nestles in a valley surrounded by the Ponta do Altar headland to the west, and golden cliffs to the east. This beautiful and sheltered beach overlooks a rocky outcrop island, the Leixão das Gaivotas, and is one of the most pristine shorelines of the region.
The only downside is that a car is needed to travel here, and the car park fills up quickly during the summer months.
Caneiros beach is wonderful if you have a car
The tower on the headland is part of the Ponta do Altar lighthouse complex
The Praia Grande
The Praia Grande is a fantastic beach that overlooks the Arade Estuary. This is the main beach of Ferragudo and is popular with locals.
The beach boasts a surprisingly large sandy shoreline and is the location of two trendy beach bars: Club Nau and Kalu. It will be less busy as you move further to the south, with plenty of space even during the summer.
As the beach opens out onto the estuary, the water quality is never as good as the sea.
The quiet southern side of the Praia Grande
Praia do Molhe
The Praia do Molhe sits around a defensive seawall that extends far into the mouth of the Rio Arade. On the seaward side, the water is rough with large waves, but it is much calmer on the riverside.
Molhe is only a small beach, but it’s seawall is a unique attraction
Our most popular articles for Praia da Rocha and the Algarve