Algarve has three official nude beaches and several where the Portuguese Naturist Federation says naturism is tolerated. These unofficial nude beaches are mostly found on the wild west coast and on the islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Official nude beaches
- Ilha Deserta / Faro
Deserted Island (also called Ilha Barreta) was officially declared a nude beach in 2011 and can be reached by ferry from the city of Faro. It remains a well-kept secret place, although the regular ferries have increased its popularity. There’s nothing but a solar-powered restaurant and a lighthouse here. A long boardwalk protects the dunes and leads visitors to the best spots around the island to enjoy the natural paradise. In the summer, there are wicker parasols for rent, and here people tend to keep their bathing suits on. The naturist area is found on the western side (to the right when facing the sea).
- Praia do Homem Nu / Tavira
Its name literally means “Naked Man Beach” and got its name from a man who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and swam to this beach with no clothes on. Because of the name or, more likely, because of the remote location, it’s an official nude beach since 2004. It’s on an island by the city of Tavira, and to reach it you have to first go to Praia do Barril, and then walk to the right (when facing the sea) for about 20 minutes. Even before it was made official, this was already popular with gay men, locals, and tourists. Nowadays, there are more straight naturist couples than gay men, and sometimes it’s practically deserted.
- Praia das Adegas / Costa Vicentina
Despite its relatively small size, this is the most popular of the three official nude beaches. If you’re looking for seclusion, you won’t find it here, as spaces are limited, especially when the tide rises. It’s located at the bottom of a tall cliff, immediately to the south of the bigger and more famous Odeceixe beach. A sign by the staircase that leads down to it informs that you’re entering a naturist beach. If you choose to go down, you’re of course free to keep your bathing suit on, but you should respect it as a naturist site and head to another beach instead if you’re not willing to take it all off. The cliff surrounding the place shelters it from the winds, so it’s perfect for sunbathing. This part of the Atlantic has bigger waves, which are excellent for surfing but not so safe for swimming.
More beaches where naturism is tolerated
- Ilha da Armona / Olhão
This beach is home to a tiny fishing community, but its huge beach is mostly deserted. That means that many people sunbathe nude, it is an unofficial nude beach. The island is accessed by ferry from the city of Olhão. The beach that stretches for 9 kilometers (almost 6 miles) is reached via a long boardwalk that protects the dunes, the nudism-friendly part is to the east (walk to the left when facing the sea). It’s very peaceful and clean, with white sand and usually calm and shallow waters. On the dunes, you’ll encounter chameleons and different species of birds. If you like to be surrounded by nothing but pristine nature, this is the beach for you.
- Ilha da Culatra / Olhão
Like Armona, this island is inhabited by a fishing community, and a long boardwalk links the village to the beach. This beach is never crowded, and since it stretches for 6 kilometers (close to 4 miles), there are deserted parts where naturism is common. Most people stay in the area where the boardwalk ends, but continue walking to the left and you’ll see the nude sunbathers. The dunes and the water are very clean, and dolphins and orcas are sometimes sighted in the distance.
- Ilha de Tavira / Tavira
The beach is on the eastern end of an island reached by ferry from the city of Tavira and offers plenty of space and privacy if you keep walking to the right when facing the sea. Walk away from the crowded area with restaurants and parasols, and you’ll see people sunbathing nude at this very popular beach. There’s soft white sand stretching as far as the eye can see, and the usually calm water is a little warmer than at other beaches on this coast.
- Praia da Manta Rota
The beach of Manta Rota is known as a popular family destination and doesn’t look very inviting to naturists at first sight, but if you walk for about 20 minutes to the west, it becomes a nearly deserted beach where many take off their bathing suits. Here the beach is wild, with a landscape of dunes and a view of Cacela Velha.
- Praia de João de Arens / Alvor
Once was almost exclusively gay, but this stunning beach is now a naturist’s paradise attracting as many straight people as gay. Hidden at the bottom of a pine-covered promontory, it has two sides separated by a cliff and linked by a tunnel carved by nature. After carefully following a trail down the cliff, you arrive at the western side. This is where most people stay, sunbathing or swimming nude. You shouldn’t leave without checking out the eastern side, as it offers beautiful views of the coast all the way to the city of Portimão. Also, take some time to admire the view from the clifftop. The rock formations, the views, and the atmosphere make this one of the most romantic beaches in Algarve. The water is usually calm and clear, so you’ll see people snorkeling and on inflatable boats in addition to sunbathing nude.
- Praia do Submarino / Alvor
This beach is right next to Praia de João de Arens, but you won’t find it on most maps. Very few people know about this beach named after a submarine-shaped rock emerging from the water. Gay men discovered it, but straight naturists have followed them. When Praia de João de Arens is too crowded, many people head to this neighboring beach. That is if the tides allow them. It’s a hidden beach at the bottom of a cliff, but it disappears at high tide. Up close, the rock formations are even more spectacular, and when the tide is right, arches and other openings lead to hidden caves. You need to follow a trail down a cliff to reach it. The seclusion means that it’s often a 100% naturist beach.
- Praia dos Pinheiros / Lagos
Many people find this beach by chance when they walk over the cliffs from the famous beach of Camilo to the north or from the Ponta da Piedade headland to the south. The view from above is breathtaking, leading many to look for the trail that leads to the bottom of the steep cliff. Only the young and adventurous discover a naturist paradise. Nestled between the cliffs, it’s a beach of extraordinary beauty, sheltered from the winds and with calm and crystal-clear waters.
- Praia do Canavial / Lagos
This is a long but narrow beach and nowadays you have to share the limited space with many other people. It’s not easy to reach and there are some stunning beaches in the area, so it’s a little surprising that many people choose to come here. The original reason might have been seclusion, which attracted the gay community. Most are young straight couples, although gay men still make up a significant percentage. Maintaining the tradition from when it was discovered, it’s an unofficial nude beach. Naturists tend to concentrate on the eastern end (to the left). There are no facilities of any kind, and no lifeguard supervision as well on the beach.
- Meia Praia / Lagos
It’s one of the biggest but most crowded beaches in Algarve, and you’ll see everyone in bathing suits. When you arrive, you’ll think that this can’t possibly be a nudism-friendly beach. However, the eastern end is quite different. There are very few people and some are sunbathing nude. This section is also known as Praia do Vale da Lama, but it’s still Meia Praia, and that’s where naturism is tolerated.
- Praia do Barranco / Sagres
The beach is close to Sagres, which is usually windy, but its surrounding hills and valleys offer some protection. It remains undiscovered by everyone else, due to its remote location, reached via an unpaved road. You’ll find a considerable number of nude sunbathers at this beach, which is mostly frequented by campers. The water is also calmer than at other beaches in the area. There are no lifeguards or any facilities, just wonderful, wild scenery around you.
- Praia do Zavial / Sagres
When not riding the waves, surfers sunbathe nude at this beach. Naturism is common here, but only on the eastern end (to the left when facing the sea). At high tide, however, this part of the beach becomes very narrow or even disappears. It’s very quiet, not a wild beach. It has a restaurant and there’s lifeguard supervision in the summer.
- Praia das Furnas / Sagres
If you’re lucky enough to go at low tide on a day with calm and clear waters, this will likely be one of your favorite beaches in the Algarve. This beach is a top destination for campers and naturists but remains relatively unknown. This means that it’s never crowded and its rather small area is big enough for everyone to sunbathe in peace. Those who like to be surrounded by nature but prefer to stay out of the sun, find shade in the caves that gave it its name.
- Praia de Cabanas Velhas / Sagres
The beach has grown in popularity so now there are more local families than naturists. Still, it’s very rarely crowded and you’ll occasionally see people sunbathing nude on the eastern end. This side is more sheltered from the frequent winds and is also a favorite of fishermen. Unfortunately, the water is sometimes rough and there are many underwater rocks, so it’s not great for swimming. But it’s very clean and can be very relaxing.
- Praia do Beliche / Sagres
It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in western Algarve. It is at Cape St. Vincent, at the “end of the world” (it marked the edge of the Earth to ancient Europeans). It is still overlooked by tourists despite its magnificent scenery and magical sunset views. The beach is divided into two sections separated by a cliff – surfers tend to stay on the eastern end and naturists to the west. Unfortunately, this western end sometimes becomes inaccessible when the tide rides. The 40 m (130ft) tall cliffs offer some protection from Sagres’ winds.
- Praia da Figueira / Sagres
This is quite a wild beach, surrounded by cliffs with Mediterranean vegetation and calm waters. Once a secret beach that only a few naturists knew about, Praia da Figueira is now popular with young couples and families. The naturists are often about a quarter of the sunbathers and tend to stay on the western side (walk to the right when facing the sea).
- Praia do Vale dos Homens / Aljezur
The beach is in a rather remote location with nothing but pine trees and farmland, and it’s surrounded by schist cliffs. The many rocks along the shore form tidal pools, while the big rock formations on the northern end (to the right when facing the sea) separate naturists from the rest of the beach. There isn’t much space at this beach when the tide rises, but at low tide on a regular summer day, it’s quite a wonderful place to enjoy nature.
- Praia de Vale Figueiras / Costa Vicentina
Frequented almost exclusively by Portuguese families from other parts of the country, this huge beach is best known as a family and surfing destination, and not so much for naturism. However, walk north (to the right when facing the sea), and you’ll find secluded spots between rocks where people sunbathe nude.
- Praia da Bordeira / Costa Vicentina
It’s the largest beach in Costa Vicentina, so it’s never packed, but many surf schools choose it for lessons. It has become such a popular surfing beach, that nude sunbathing is now rare, but it remains a beach where nudity is tolerated, if you stay in the northern end, away from the crowds. It’s quite beautiful, with dunes stretching inland to the village of Carrapateira, and perfect for long walks by the sea.
- Praia da Cordoama / Costa Vicentina
This large beach is another that mixes surfers and naturists. The surfers tend to stay in the middle section where there’s a restaurant, while the naturists prefer the more deserted northern end (walk to the right when you arrive). Due to a microclimate that often causes it to be misty in the morning, you might only be able to sunbathe in the afternoon, but it’s still very much worth a visit, for the wild landscape and peaceful atmosphere.
- Praia da Barriga / Costa Vicentina
It’s a very remote beach, so you just may find yourself all alone. At low tide, you can walk from Praia da Cordoama to this beach. It’s beautiful, especially when the low tide allows you to go around a cliff to a couple of imposing rock formations. Because of the seclusion, those who make it here usually sunbathe nude.
- Praia da Murração / Costa Vicentina
It remains one of Algarve’s last secret beaches, and its big waves have yet to attract surfers. Actually, it’s better if you don’t go in the water at all, as there are dangerous currents. It’s a very remote place, and to reach it you have to go down an unpaved road for several kilometers. Some families have discovered this wild beach and bring their kids and dogs, but this is mostly a beach of naturists and campers. However, it’s quite a wonderful place to sunbathe, listen to the sounds of nature, and admire the magnificent scenery of rugged cliffs on one side and green ones on the other.