When the opportunity arose way back in March, to visit the stunning Algarve region (located at the Southern tip of Portugal)…it was one not to be missed! The sunny, warm climate, picture perfect beaches, and tranquil azure waters make this destination a front-runner for every Stand up Paddle enthusiast. Just a short flight from the UK, this region is well worth a visit!
Back in the UK, the temperate maritime (well let’s face it wet, cold, windy) climate, combined with the odd ‘abnormal pollution alert’ on the Gannel estuary (Crantock, Newquay), and ever fluctuating inland river levels, make life as a SUP instructor no easy challenge. Thus the decision was made to relocate to a region which boasts 320 days of sunshine a year (exceeding that of California!). No more wetsuits – for me or clients!!
I am lucky enough to be situated on one of the most stunning and prestigious resorts in Portugal. Vale do Lobo is the premier beach, tennis and golf resort on the Algarve. Inside its walls are luxury villas and apartments and the best facilities you can find on the coast. I happily spend every day on the beach in the sunshine, instructing all ages and nationalities in the art of Paddleboarding. After years of (often) ‘washout’ UK summers spent in Cornwall, I still habitually make the comment each morning of “looks like it’s going to be a lovely day”, despite the fact that every day is hot and sunny and generally cloudless!
My colleague Nick Robinson, spends his days taking groups of lucky people off exploring the vast and varied waterways of the Algarve. From the peace, solitude and tranquillity of the Lakes of Silves, the wondrous, dramatic coastline with its numerous, caves, caverns, grottos and secluded coves, to the stunning Ria Formosa Coastal Lagoon, a Natural Park not to be missed! Nick’s enthusiasm and energy for the sport never waivers and is acknowledged by all those who join him. He has events and tours to suit all age groups and ability levels.
A couple of highlights for me must be the Full Moon Sup Tour on the Ria Formosa, and Full Day Coastal Paddles.
To paddle out from Faro Marina into the calm waters of the Ria Formosa at sunset, stopping briefly at dusk on one of the islands for refreshments, then paddling back in the dark (we all had lights for paddles/ourselves) under the light of a full moon, is a unique, magical experience and one not to be missed! With hindsight, paddling in the dark with my light shining downwards onto my little Fanatic AllWave (that sits very low in the water), was not my best decision. I was the only paddler ‘lucky’ enough to cause a multitude of fish to leap from the dark waters of the Ria Formosa straight onto a passing SUP board. My first experience of SUP fishing, will hopefully be my last!
Likewise, setting off early in the morning, to spend a full day paddling a stunning section of the Algarve coast from point to point, is unmatched. Lots of breaks for refreshments, snacks, lunch, swims etc along the way, ensure clients appreciate the route at a leisurely pace. The coastline we paddle, is simply breathtaking. Viewing it from the ideal vantage point of a SUP board is perfect.
As I sit here typing, in a brief break between lessons, the sun is shining, waves lap gently onto a white powdery beach and the temperature nudges 38c (100.4 f). Our job has to be one of the best…if you can call it work?!