Trip report by Algarve Fun’s writer Vicente Lourenço. Having spent most of his life in the Algarve, Vicente knows most of its secrets and loves to share it with newcomers. He likes travelling, outdoor sports and exotic food.
Vilamoura is one of the largest touristic complexes in Europe. Featuring hotels, luxury villas and award-winning golf courses, the only thing that was originally lacking in Vilamoura was a marina. Among the many marinas and seaports of Portugal, Vilamoura Marina is now, along with the Marina of Cascais, the best known marina in the country. Its longevity, its size with space for an impressive 825 boats, the number of restaurants, bars, cafes and an extensive array of activities are some of the factors that justify the enormous popularity of Vilamoura Marina.
Inaugurated in 1974, Vilamoura Marina was the first marina to be built in Portugal. The various prizes with which it has been honoured make it one of the best marinas in the world (it was voted as the Best International Marina by TYHA in 2015 and 2016). Built to combine the quality and environmental sustainability that characterize Vilamoura, the Marina has also been distinguished with the Gold Medal of Regional Tourism of the Algarve and the prestigious 5 Anchors Prize.
As I strolled through Vilamoura Marina, I was struck by the size of some sailboats and yachts anchored there. Gigantic boats that looked more like floating palaces watched as visitors passed by. This is another reason why Vilamoura Marina is considered by many to be the best marina in the Algarve: its wharves are designed to accommodate boats up to 60 meters.
Very popular among locals and tourists, Vilamoura Marina was filled with visitors when I was there. Shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and various leisure activities give the place a dynamic vibe that attracts thousands of people every year. In fact, Vilamoura Marina is an excellent place to spend a morning or afternoon relaxing. The wide range of activities ensures that there is something of interest for all genders and age groups. Although during summer months the Marina is more populated, as a consequence of most of its commercial establishments extending their working hours, in the remaining months of the year it is rather calm and quiet.
However, the busiest period occurs during the evening, at night, when people looking for night-time amusements head on to the array of bars and restaurants at the Marina. Many of these venues offer live spectacles of performing arts, music or karaoke. But if it happens that you are just looking for a terrace to drink a beer at moonlight, you can rest assured knowing that you will not be disturbed as the size of Vilamoura Marina allows for party people and families or couples to coexist peacefully without anyone being disturbed.
About 30 kilometres from Faro Airport, Vilamoura Marina is at the centre of the south coast of the region. This location means it’s a great place for a boat trip exploring to the east including the huge Ria Formosa natural park, or to the west including the famous Benagil caves.