Surfs up In Western Algarve.

Next summer brings with it the World’s biggest sporting spectacle.  The Tokyo Olympics.
For the first time, surfing will be on the list of Olympic events, showcasing an exciting, fast-growing sport which carries with it a long cultural, musical and spiritual heritage. The increase in exposure will no doubt bring a boost in interest in this unique sport.

For those based in the UK, who would like to learn to surf, there is an increasing array of locations and options on offer. But in a similar way to skiing, few destinations offer consistent or predictable conditions. In order to maximise the potential of your surf holiday, you’ll need to choose wisely. From absolute beginner to seasoned veteran, The Algarve makes an excellent choice for surfers of all levels and is a destination that attracts surfers from all over the world. Here are just a few of the reasons why it is so popular with surfers.

Guaranteed Waves In The Algarve.

Situated on the Atlantic coast, The Algarve can boast good waves almost every day of the year.

The Portuguese tourist Authority are so confident in that claim, they even offer free holidays for surfers who failed to find waves of more than 50 centimetres on 3 consecutive days, on one of the 28 listed beaches.

The Algarve’s Beautiful Water

The water in the Algarve is clear, blue and beautiful. Although the water temperature varies throughout the year, even in winter it is comfortably warm in a wetsuit.

A Massive Choice Of Beaches

The Algarve offers a massive range of beaches. Each one with its own benefits and characteristics, which allows you to choose a surf venue that suits your aspirations perfectly

If you book with a surf school, coach or guide, they will always advise you on the best beach for the conditions and your level of ability.

family surfing in the algarve

Year Round Warmth

Even in winter, the weather is similar to British spring temperatures, making it perfect for surfing. Surfing is possible all year round, although many surf schools close in January and February.  Whether you choose to enjoy the heat of the summer sun, or the excitement of the winter waves, you will always need to pack plenty of sunscreen.

The Algarve’s Welcoming Culture

Lovely people and a community that is always child friendly and a rich and fascinating culture, all combined with great food and wine.  Which all goes together to make the perfect active holiday.

surfing in the algarve

Surf Lessons, Courses Or Holidays

Villa Retreat’s partner organisation,  Watersmile can arrange surf lessons or individual coaching with surf board hire for any number of days during your holiday. There are also options for family days out or multi-day family surf holidays.

For Villa Retreats customers, simply mention “Villa Retreats” to Mauro who runs the company and you will receive a 10% discount on your surf booking.

Aside from surfing they offer other exciting water base activities including Stand Up Paddleboarding, Kaykaing and Coasteering.

Check out WaterSmile’s website here:

Here are a few photos from Water Smile’s’ Surf School

Whether you choose to enroll on a surfing course or just add a day of surfing to your holiday, we have a number of villas in this area which would make the perfect base.

Check them out here:

mosquitos in the medditeranean

How To Reduce The Risk Of Mosquito-Born Disease On Holiday

Diseases previously found only in the tropics have been discovered in European countries like Greece, France, Italy and Spain. A move that may concern those visiting Mediterranean beaches this summer.

The mosquito-borne disease include ‘Chikunguya’, a fever which causes fever and painful joints and ‘Dengue Fever’, a powerful flu-like virus. Whilst the risk of infection is still relatively low, travellers are being advised of the potential risk of mosquito bites and that they should take precautions to avoid them.

Here are a few simple tips to help you reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites whilst on your next holiday.

Avoidance of mosquito bites should always be considered the first line of defence against mosquito-borne infections.

There isn’t really a safe time

Different mosquitos bite at different times of the day. The mosquitos which spread malaria bite between dusk but the mostquitos which carry other diseases like Chikunguya and Dengue, tend to bite during the day.

Which means that bite-preventive measures are advisable at all times.

Insect Repellents

Although there are various insect repellents available , The NHS strongly recommend DEET N, N-Diethyl-m-tolumide above all others.

There are a few things to note about DEET.

  • A concentration of 20% DEET offers between 1 to 3 hours protection.
  • 30% DEET can offer up to 6 hours protection.
  • 50% DEET can offer up to 12 hours protection
  • Duration of protection DOES NOT increase with concentrations above 50%.
  • Concentrations above 50% should NOT be used on the skin
  • DEET is water soluble, so it must be reapplied after swimming
  • DEET induces a reduction in SPF, so a higher protection sunscreen should be used.
  • DEET should always be applied AFTER
  • DEET may damage man-made fibres, and plastics (watches, sunglasses, clothing).


Although they are not recommended above DEET by the NHS, Icaridin (Picaridin) and Lemon Eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8 diol, or PMD) may be used but their protection is not considered as effective or long-lasting.


Mosquitos cannot bite through loose fitting clothing so clothing which covers the skin is highly recommended where appropriate. Longs sleeves, high necklines and long skirts or trousers where possible. Exposed areas of skin should be covered with DEET (20% or above).

It is possible to buy clothing which is pre-treated with an insecticide which may further increase the level of protection. UK Travel Clothing brands Rohan and Craghoppers both have dedicated ranges of anti-insect clothing.

Mosquito Nets

Mostquito nets can offer enhanced protection from bites, particularly whilst sleeping. These can be even more effective if treated with an insecticide. Design and manufacture of nets varies, so it is important to check suitability, practicality and portability before you invest. Most nets are available as single or double bed options.

Remember that whilst mosquitos cannot pass through a net, they can bite through it. So don’t sleep with any part of your skin touching the net.

Room Protection

Check any door and window screens for holes and gaps. Try to keep the doors and screens closed at all times, not just at night.
Air conditioning can be an effective deterrent. Mosquitos are less likely to be attracted to a the room if it is.
Make sure any standing water is removed as it provides that perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
Citronella Candles and plugin insecticide-emitting devices may have a small effect as an insect deterrent but they should never be relied upon on their own. Great care should be taken using candles indoors and they should never be used anywhere near loose clothing, soft furnishings or a mosquito net.
It should also be noted that candles, coils and plugins maybe trigger the symptoms of Asthma or other breathing conditions.

A Few Myths Busted

Finally, here are a few common fallacies that you should know the truth about:

  • Vitamins B1 and B12: There is no evidence that these vitamins do anything to repel mosquitoes.
  • Tea Tree Oil: There is no evidence that Tea Tree Oil is effective as a mosquito repellent.
  • Garlic and yeast extract: Whether taken orally or rubbed on the skin, there is no scientific evidence to suggest these do anything to repel mosquitos.

High Frequency Buzzers: Devices that emit high frequency sound waves, are completely ineffective against mosquitos. In fact, numerous companies selling these devices have been prosecuted and fined under the trade descriptions act.

SUP Algarve

Stand Up Paddleboarding In The Algarve

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a great way to get out on the water, to enjoy as much or as little exercise as you want and to see the coastline and marine wildlife. We spoke to our friends at Algarve SUP recently, to find out a little bit more about this fast growing sport and how you can get involved whilst you are on your next holiday. Here’s what they had to say.

Have you ever wondered what its like to explore the ancient caves of the Algarve Coastline or to roam freely down the hidden waterways of the Natural Park of the Ria Formosa Lagoon near Faro or Olhao?

With our local trusted providers we have know for some time, ZEN SUP and Algarve SUP you can now discover both of these locations and many more while on your next holiday getaway to the Algarve.

Imagine yourself on a state of the art Stand Up Paddle board on the still waters of the Ria Formosa near Faro airport as the sun dips below the horizon while you, your family and friends have a private viewing point of the planes arriving to touch down on the runway. Magical!!!

SUP Algarve

Taking an early morning tour along the stunningly sculptured coastline of the Algarve will certainly leave you with golden memories that you will treasure for a lifetime. Paddling through some of the most amazing caves, not only in Europe, but in the world. Coastal features that have been formed by nature over millions of years. Breathtaking to say the least!!!

Both ZEN SUP and Algarve SUP have been providing Stand Up Paddle Boarding Lessons and Tours in the Algarve over the past 5 years and are renowned for high quality instruction, service and enjoyment across all their services.

We do our upmost to give you, your family and friends one of the best on beach, on water and in cave experiences that you can have anywhere in the world. From first contact we make it our business to begin tailoring the experience for your total enjoyment. We endeavour to match the timing, conditions and locations to ensure your complete satisfaction. And we also try to follow up with some memorable photos to share the memories with loved ones back home.

We cater for all ages, ranging from 4 up to 76 years (actual client stats) and sometimes have 3 generations on the water all at the same time, enjoying this unique sport together. We accommodate individuals, couples, families, stag and hen parties, yoga groups, team building and others.

We use only the highest quality of equipment from one of the leading manufacturers in the water sports industry and we teach to the highest standards recognised by surfing and SUP communities and authorities around the world.

Why not come along with us on one of our tours and experience first hand for yourself why they say that Stand Up Paddle is the faster growing water sport in the world and why its also one of the best ways to explore, enjoy and get in shape (and stay in shape) while on the water.

Looking forward to hosting you on one of our signature Lessons or Tours during your next holiday in the Algarve.

Find out more about Algarve SUP

Find the perfect villa in the Algrarve

Come Together & Celebrate in Style with Villa Retreats

So you’ve decided on a location and you’ve finally got everyone to agree on a date (completing that task in itself usually deserves a holiday!), now it’s time to decide how to make your celebratory get -together so spectacular that your fellow celebrators will be celebrating your own organising brilliance for years to come!


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Our latest deals make Algarve luxury that bit more affordable

The Algarve unquestionably means many things to many people – and by ‘many’, we mean some 10 million – who pay this southernmost region of mainland Portugal a visit every year. A part of the world known for its endlessly compelling beaches and natural beauty, top golf courses and fine Mediterranean-style cuisine, it also offers no shortage of opulent villas from which to enjoy it all.

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What brings holiday-makers back to the Algarve year after year?

why brits like the algarve so much

Before I first went to the Algarve, I wondered what exactly was the real attraction that kept British families returning there for their holidays year after year. After all, it was not the Mediterranean, with its variety and mass appeal and it certainly wasn’t the Caribbean with its renowned balmy atmosphere and laid back luxury.

On my first visit one Spring, I began to understand, but it was not until I had been in both the Summer and Autumn months that I really began to appreciate the Algarve’s enduring appeal. It does have something for everybody. There are boisterous, lively areas around the resort of Albufeira, which in some ways are reminiscent of the Spanish costas; here are high-rise hotels and apartment blocks, long beaches and lively bars and restaurants and lots of holiday attractions. But, this only represents a fraction of the Algarve and there is so much more, which appeals to the British family holidaymaker.

whats there to do in the argarveI’ll start by looking at just one area, one which is known locally as the ‘Golden Triangle’. This takes in a fairly small geographical area with the town of Almancil at the top and the developments of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo at the other corners, linked by a stretch of superb beach.

Almancil is a bustling service town with all the business and commercial facilities to look after the area. It is just a half hour drive from the regional capital of Faro and only 20 minutes or so from its modern airport. Here can be found banks, lawyers, insurance companies, supermarkets (both local and international standard), shops of all sorts, along with bars and restaurants. These enterprises service the ex-pat community, the year-round tourists, seasonal workers and, of course, the locals.

expats in the algarveThere is a large ex-pat community; probably the largest section is British and Irish, but there are also Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians and a sprinkling of others. They have been drawn to the region by the climate, the facilities (especially golf) and the ease with which it is possible to assimilate into the community of individual choice.

The longest established residential development is Vale do Lobo (Valley of the Wolves), which has been built amongst the coastal pine woods which characterise this part of the coastline. There are now upwards of 2000 residences built around two established and magnificent golf courses, the Royal and the Ocean. Complementing these are an international standard tennis centre and academy, horse-riding, football pitches and, of course fitness and spa facilities. There is a bus service, a five-star hotel and an area alongside the beach with a selection of good quality bars and restaurants. And, there is the beach itself – two kilometres of unbroken golden sand.

The majority of the properties here are villas and townhouses and whilst many are occupied year round by ex-pats, most are available for holiday rental through companies such as Villa Retreats. These houses have all been built as family homes and mostly range from three to five bedrooms, although some are six bedrooms or more, making them really attractive to extended families or two families holidaying together. And families use them year after year, often renting the same house for the same two weeks every year. Over the years visitors become firm friends and their children grow up together, even though they only get together at these holiday times. For many, the images of family summer holidays spent in jacaranda-clad, white-walled villas last a lifetime.

holiday villa for 2 families in the algarveFor many adults, the golf is the principal attraction of Vale do Lobo. In the summer, pairs and foursomes play early and late, when it is warm, rather than baking hot. In the spring and autumn, groups of friends (mostly male) travel out together to play the courses of the region; they can be heard most afternoons and evenings in the local bars recounting their day ball by tragic or triumphant ball.

On the other side of the triangle is Quinta do Lago. If vale do Lobo is a luxury resort, then Quinta do Lago is a couple of points further on, much less high-density with wider roads and mostly bigger, more luxurious houses set on larger plots. Quinta suits a different type of visitor, who prefers more privacy and exclusivity. Again, the development is set within top-class golf courses, with tennis, spas, restaurants and other facilities; the beach is more of a walk over the dunes and through a nature reserve and there is an up-market shopping complex with designer boutiques and cafes and bars.

bars of the algarveIn between the two resorts are a number of smaller developments with often better value, but still good quality, rental opportunities and equal, if not better access to the beaches. There are more restaurants, a riding centre and other sporting and leisure facilities.

There is much more to the Algarve, but more of that another time.