Comporta; Your New Unspoilt Hideaway

Tired of going on vacation only to be told you should’ve been there 10 years ago? Then get to Comporta, Portugal NOW. Quite possibly Portugal’s best-kept secret in the sand, Comporta has been compared to everything from Uruguay to Ibiza to St. Tropez before the cruise ships, crowds, and Kardashians descended. Which is not to say the celebs aren’t here: Madonna, Christian Louboutin, and Phillipe Starck all have hideaways here, but thanks to strict zoning laws protecting the area’s dunes and nature reserves, they remain just that—hidden away.

Comporta is surrounded by rice paddies, the ocean, sand dunes and pine forests. It’s a unique place, where you can connect with nature and live in the moment. To some people, the fishing cabins on stilts conjure up images of Asia, whilst for others, the magnificent white-sand beaches bordering the ocean evoke the Hamptons, but Comporta has a rhythm and an ambience that are all its own.
This wild place has long been kept secret by regular visitors, who appreciate the ‘tranquilidade’ of this distinctive region.

Tradition and simplicity reign supreme in the villages of the region. The buildings fit together harmoniously and the villagers can still be found in the same cafés they have always frequented. There are no legions of tourists, and no nightclubs. What you can find is the authenticity and easy living of Portugal.

A highly protected nature reserve

When we talk about Comporta, we actually mean the surrounding region, called Herdade da Comporta. This territory is situated between the Sado estuary and the ocean. It covers 12,500 hectares and seven hamlets: Pego, Carvalhal, Brejos, Torre, Possanco, Carrasqueira and Comporta. A tranquil harmony reigns across this almost-deserted terrain, broken only by the clacking beaks of the storks that are growing more and more numerous in Portugal.

A particular region of Portugal

Comporta’s charm lies in its large rice fields, crisscrossed by multiple irrigation canals. These are the biggest rice paddies in Portugal. They extend to the dunes bordering the long beaches along the coast. This unusual crop sketches and colors the region’s countryside, which changes with the passing of the seasons. In the months of April and May, the rice fields are ‘drowned’. They are transformed into vast, watery mirrors, reflecting the nature that surrounds them. You’ll never tire of admiring the beauty of these places. The rice paddies are protected today, just like the flora and fauna that shelter in them. Strolling among these extraordinary fields is one of the many pleasures of this destination. On foot, on horseback, on a bike or even on a paddle board, you have to get lost among the rice shoots to discover the many birds hiding there that cannot be seen anywhere else.

Simple and Authentic Way of Living

The villages of Comporta, just like many others in Alentejo, have lost none of their authenticity or their customs. Modernity is welcomed without losing the history that created it, or the way of life that characterises it. That’s what makes them so authentic. You feel good there, straight away, as though you’re at home. The rhythm is slow, and people stop and chat.
In Carvalhal, you’ll see locals sitting on plastic chairs in outdoor cafés in the mornings. They have coffee alongside tourists or people from Lisbon out enjoying themselves, as they probably have done for decades.

Fine sand and fresh fish

The beaches are an integral part of the Comporta ‘myth’ in Portugal, just like abroad. The ocean here is particularly blue and the sand is white and very fine. Vegetation-covered dunes border the beach, and no building work ruins the dream-like scenery. The beauty of the landscape is raw and authentic, and you feel as though you are at the edge of the world.

The ambience is relaxed and children play in the sand; everything comes together to create a pleasant setting for discovering the region’s specialties and wines.

Hidden gems

Heading a little further away from these famous Comporta spots, you’ll quickly discover some even less-frequented hidden gems. That’s the case for Galé beach, further to the south. It is, without a doubt, one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. Huge ochre and red cliffs line the beach, and in the morning light, you could easily believe you were standing on the shores of Australia.

Another short distance south, you can admire the sunset over Aberta Nova beach. The spectacle is magnificent. Reserve a table in advance at the Caverna Dos Tigres, a little local restaurant on the road to Melides, to enjoy a rustic dinner in a shack overlooking the beach.

Therefore relax, seat back and enjoy life simplicity on a beach bar, close to a glass of wine and a nice octopus salad…

 

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