Inside explores the glorious secret caves and beaches around Ferragudo
Ferragudo is one of the most charming villages in the Algarve and home to local tour company Zip&Trip. Founded by Inês Nunes, a marine biologist, and Pedro Oliveira, a nature guide, they take small groups on walking, sightseeing, foodie and snorkelling trips around the picturesque fishing village and surrounding coast.
As I know Ferragudo pretty well, I opted for the snorkelling, secret caves and beaches tour and met the couple by the square to join the rest of our group. It is at this point that I should probably mention that I am not a fan of cold water, am nervous in the sea and have rhinitis, so I was slightly anxious. With the group in place, we squeezed into our wetsuits and headed off towards our starting point near praia do Vau beach. Once we arrived at our destination, Inês began to reveal a little more about what we could expect: “The way to get there couldn’t be better, just follow us!” We climbed down to the beach to begin our initiation, where Inês taught us how to snorkel and float easily and be comfortable in our wetsuits. Side by side, we swam above the most beautiful underwater gardens, looking for colourful starfish that are common in this area but mostly finding sardines, mackerel and seahorses.
Inês was so calming and took extra time with me to make sure I was getting the most of the trip. When I mentioned that I was nervous, she told me that they take out children as young as four years old, which put me at ease. Pedro leads the group, with the couple guiding and continuously checking that everyone was in place and happy, as we continued our tour of the wonderful Algarve coast. “The caves that I’m about to show you are unique and unspoilt because only a few locals know about them,” Pedro explained. “I’ve visited many times, and whenever I enter, it feels like I’m going into a huge cathedral with the sun shining through the window. There’s only the noise of the ocean and us.”
We navigated our way through some tiny entrances where a glorious utopia of limestone caves and natural blowholes have created some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Some of the isolated beaches and rock formations were reminiscent of the area around Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, and the water clarity was perfect on the day that I went out. I was honestly taken aback. Having done many coastal boat trips, kayaking trips and stand up paddle in the area, the perspective from water level with the aid of the snorkel is, in my opinion, the best view of them all. With the added bonus of being able to swim under some low rocks and enter truly private paradise beaches, it was a magical experience. We continued exploring for an hour or so more before heading back to the beach, where Pedro and Inês laid out a very welcome picnic of local fruits and cheeses to relax and replenish our energy levels.The snorkelling trip was excellent and professionally carried out by this passionate couple who have their groups wellness and the sustainability of their fabulous natural environment in mind throughout. I went in July, but the water temperature in the Algarve is generally warmer in September/October, so this is the perfect time to go and with fewer visitors around, I’m sure that the experience will be even more special.
Other tours available are the Sunset Walk & Food Tasting in Ferragudo where they show you some fantastic hidden spots while getting to know all about the village’s history, experiencing the culture, cobbled streets, unique artwork, ancient buildings and meeting some local friends with lots of stories to tell. Then it’s onto the tasting part where they take you to some typical locales where you will eat delicious local food, drink regional wine, spirits and a homemade dessert. There’s also the walking tour that includes Benagil cave, Marinha beach, stunning cliffs and breathtaking views with plenty of opportunities to take some snaps and enjoy the landscape.All tours last around three hours and have a minimum of two, maximum of seven participants if you wish to use their included transfer service. Larger groups can be accommodated on request. With prices ranging from €35 to €55 per person, these unique tours will give you something to write home about and memories to last a lifetime.
“We walk through beaches and forests, swim to visit caves and observe the underwater life. We aim to organise experiences that promote the wellbeing of the people who come with us, interfering as little as possible with the surrounding environment,” the couple said. “Trust us; you’ll have one of the most magical experiences of your life. And we will continue searching for less known places, where nature is in its wildest state, places where we feel good.”