I’m the sort of person who’s a total goody-goody, scared to do anything vaguely naughty, but when it comes to great swimming spots I’ll do almost anything. Read on to see what I got up to at Pego do Inferno, a beautiful emerald pool with a cool waterfall and fish a-plenty.
We left Lisbon via the Vasco da Gama bridge, which was surprisingly close to the aquarium we’d visited the preceding day. Tuning the radio into Radio Europa, an Iberian station that plays banging tunes by all definitions, I listened to Despacito for the 50th time. Heading south for the Praia do Marinha, one of Portugal’s most famous beaches, the weather gradually got warmer and warmer.
It was a truly lovely day to be beside the seaside. The cliffs and sand at the praia were golden, the sky blue, and the sea clear.
Like Durdle Door, but you can actually swim in the sea rather than freeze to death in it.
I jumped right in. The waves were pretty strong, owing to the fact that Portugal is located on the Atlantic, and not the Med (I always thought I was so good at geography), but that didn’t deter me. It was too strong to snorkel, but I’m a decent swimmer so I could still enjoy myself. Dad refused to get in because he thought it was too cold, but I enjoy a dip in the sea at home on a hot day, so what the hell.
Having a whale of a time riding the waves – sans bodyboard, because I stupidly didn’t think to bring one – it got a little embarassing when I got caught in a particularly strong current, and was dragged with my arse on the sand to a rather good looking bunch of Portuguese surfers. Humiliated, I got up and tried to gracefully walk off, evidently not realising my bum was covered in shingle.
Onwards we continued to our flat at Tavira, a nice little town not too far from the border with Spain. So close you could almost hear Enrique and smash hit Bailando coming out of everyone’s stereo. We had a pool at our flat this one and only time, and were sure to make the most of it, despite the annoying kiddos also on holiday.
The next day was to be our only chill day of the entire trip, but I was desperate to visit a local swimming hole, Pego do Inferno. I’d read the stories on blogs and old newspaper articles, but had to see its beauty for myself.
Dad and me drove out into the hills in search of it. It was once a tourist attraction, but had been closed after a huge fire a couple of years ago, and never reopened. All traces of its evidence had been removed, including signs, so we relied on some thoughtful local grafitti saying ‘Pego’ on signposts to get us there. It actually worked – along with these directions.
There used to be wooden boardwalks and a lovely arched bridge to take you there. Not anymore. The bridge and platforms fell into disrepair long ago, so your only option is a steep trek down the hill with only reeds and the odd tree to cling to. I only had flipflops, which was an insensible option at best, but I’m still alive. I did acquire the biggest mosquito bite of my life, though.
When you get there, follow the confused punters with picnics. Take the well-trodden path, and don’t mind the metal fences that have casually been kicked down by intrepid thrill-seekers. It’s hard to describe, and sadly I can’t remember it exactly, but you have to go through a bunch of reeds and then turn left and wind your way down the last part of the cliff. You’ll find it eventually. None of this is legal, but everyone else does it. So who cares?
The first, easy part of your journey will take you on top of some orange fields.
Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games…
Worth the mosquito bites and the potential criminal record.
Sadly, since it closed, nobody has bothered to come and do the bins. So in some places there’s a buildup of rubbish, which looks rather unappealing. The locals also use it as a barbeque hangout, which isn’t so great if you’re veggie like me and the smell of meat makes you want to hurl. But the water is still beautiful to swim in. It’s lovely and clear, fresh, and good enough to see all the fish swimming in the shallows.
I was a bit annoyed because I’d bought a snorkel from Poundland especially (check me out, big spender) for this pool but I’d forgotten it. I probably could have seen some really cool stuff, but oh well. I swam right up to the waterfall for a chilly massage, as I watched men do some tricks from the improv rope swing someone had attached to a tree. Some were impressive, some bellyflopped, but it was all good fun. Strangely it reminded me of a place from childhood called Moreton Fords, where I dived in the chilly river and had a go on the rope swing myself. Happy days.
Not quite as nice as the warm fountains of Budapest, but unique.
Obligatory swimsuit photo with gaudy filter.
Soggy but still hungry for more, we took another dip in the pool later on, and then hit the town. I say town. Tavira is more of a pretty seaside village, not much to do really. There were some nice ramparts with a little park in them, and the riverside was nice to watch the fish in. Plus there was some good ice cream there which Dad promptly dropped on the floor – but thankfully, the nice server gave him another one. Would that happen in the UK? I doubt it!
A quaint, typical Portuguese town with a medieval past.
Before leaving for Spain the next day, I made my Malaysian special – watermelon juice – for breakfast. It’s super easy, I’ll put the recipe up someday, but all you have to do is pick the seeds out of a watermelon and then blitz the hell out of it.
This is my impression of that Leonardo diCaprio Gatsby meme.
We quickly waved goodbye to Portugal, a friendly nation by all accounts, and left for the beautiful (but stupidly hot) city of Seville. I’d always wanted to go, and here was my chance.