In a country renowned for its beautiful and dramatic scenery, the wild Atlantic Coast along Portugal’s western edge is perhaps the most superlative landscape of all. We would see a lot of this coast over several days filled with beach combing and punctuated by delicious seafood lunches; but the stretch of coast that will linger longest in the memory is around the village of Odeceixe, and its eponymous beach four kilometres west of the village’s whitewashed houses.
The scenery of this area isn’t the only thing I’ll remember. We managed to find ourselves staying in a truly wonderful rural retreat of small houses scattered around a peaceful estate dotted with cacti and oak trees. The Monte West Coast is one of the most delightful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying. Tucked away down a dirt track a few kilometres from the main road, it exudes a relaxed and easy charm.
There is hardly any noise beyond the chirruping of birds; butterflies waft past and the hilltop pool has views down the valley. At night a canopy of stars unfurls across the sky. If we’d stopped here at the start of our trip I doubt we’d have seen anything of the rest of Portugal. The owner, Catarina, is an expert on the best beaches and restaurants to visit along the coast. Thanks to her advice we had some of the tastiest food anywhere in this region. Truly wonderful.
Driving from the Monte West Coast you find yourself alongside the Rio de Seixe, which marks the boundary between the Portuguese regions of Algarve and Alentejo. Follow the river west and you find yourself overlooking the magnificent Praia de Odeceixe. This broad sweep of golden sand is situated dramatically between two craggy headlands and overlooked by vertiginous cliffs.
The large Atlantic waves that crash into the rocks also make this a prime surfing beach, and it has a bit of a reputation as surfer/hippy hangout. When we were there there were mainly families and a scattering of surfers, all very low key but I’m told that in summer things can get pretty crowded.
We’d driven up from Cabo de Sao Vicente making a few stops along the way, and by the time we had unpacked at Monte West Coast and found our way to the beach the sun had started its long descent into the ocean on the horizon. Standing on the cliff tops watching the reds, oranges and pinks of the light play over the water, cliffs and beach was mesmerising. We’d be back in the morning to explore further…