It’s very much growing in popularity, but this remains a “secret” beach, which travel guides have yet to discover. It’s hidden at the bottom of a cliff, and for this reason it became an unofficial nude beach. It was going to be made official, but authorities decided that the difficult access and risk of rockfall prevented it from being recognized as an official beach, nude or otherwise. Still, this is where young locals and tourists, mostly couples both straight and gay, come for a relaxing day of nude sunbathing. It’s quite a romantic beach, with a stunning view from the clifftop and a beautiful scenery down by the shore.
The cliff is the edge of a pine-covered headland that escaped the heavy development of the neighboring city of Portimão. This headland is named after a shepherd who used to live nearby, and the beach was given the same name.
When seen from above, the access down to the sand looks more difficult than it actually is. When you arrive, the beach also looks smaller, as it’s split by a cliff. The two sides are connected by a tunnel on the cliff ledge. The western side, where you arrive, is where most people usually stay, so the eastern side is quieter. Even if you decide to stay on the western section, do cross the tunnel to the eastern for the rock formations and the beautiful view of the Portimão coast. When the tide is very low, you don’t need to go through the tunnel, since it becomes possible to walk around the cliff. However, this rarely occurs. Of course it’s always possible to go swimming. At high tide, the water level rises in the tunnel to a point when it’s no longer possible to cross it. If you choose to stay on the eastern side, you should leave when the tide begins to change.
The risk of rockfall means that you should never stay too close to the cliffs. If you want shade, bring an umbrella. There are no facilities of any kind, so no rentals, no bars or even lifeguards. Bring enough water and snacks, and remember to take all the trash with you when you leave.
The water is usually calm and crystal-clear, so you’ll see people snorkeling or on inflatable boats. Not many spend much time swimming, however, as the water temperature is usually too low.
Beach for: Naturists
Bar or Restaurant: No
How to Get to Praia de João de Arens
João de Arens Beach is about a 10-minute drive from the center of Portimão and less than 10 minutes from Alvor. Bus 14 of the local "Vai e Vem" network, departing from Portimão (from Largo do Dique) or from Alvor (from a stop by a roundabout on Rua do Rossio de São Pedro), stops at Prainha nearby. You then have to walk down Caminho da Estrada de João de Arens for about 10 minutes. This bus only operates on weekdays (every half hour), but its route is covered by bus 1P on weekends (just once per hour, except in the months of July and August, when the frequency increases to every 30 minutes). From Alvor, it takes less than 10 minutes, and from Portimão about 25. If you enjoy scenic walks, you can also walk from Praia da Rocha for about 45 minutes, following the clifftop pathways and the coastal road. If you’re driving, you may park at the end of Caminho da Praia de João de Arens, just before Villa Casa da Guarda (see below). You just have to follow the path towards the top of the cliff from there (about a 3-minute walk). The descent to the beach takes less than 5 minutes, but you shouldn’t wear flip flops. Anyone except those with mobility issues can follow this trail, but it’s recommended that you take baby steps.
Beaches by Praia de João de Arens
You can walk to all of the beaches in Alvor and Portimão from Praia de João de Arens, it just depends on how much walking you’re willing to do. As mentioned above, you can go over the cliffs all the way to the most famous beach on this coast (Praia da Rocha) in about 45 minutes. In about the same amount of time, you can walk in the opposite direction (to the west) all the way to Praia de Alvor. The closest beach, however, is Praia do Submarino, which is a similar hidden and nude-friendly beach less than 10 minutes to the west. Another 10 minutes west is the more popular Prainha. About 15 minutes to the east, over the clifftop, are Praia de Boião and Praia do Alemão.
Hotels by Praia de João de Arens
This is the only hotel within a short walking distance of Praia de João de Arens (it’s about 15 minutes up the road). Surrounded by gardens overlooking the coast, it has contemporary studios and 1- and 2-bedroom apartments. For this reason, it attracts families, but couples also rate it highly for a romantic getaway. It features two swimming pools, four restaurants, a supermarket, two tennis courts, a multi-sport court, and a spa.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Prainha Clube
Villa Casa da Guarda
Those looking for peace and privacy by the beach stay at this villa. It’s right above Praia de João de Arens, and has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an equipped kitchen. Best of all is the swimming pool and the ocean view.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Villa Casa da Guarda