Style, sunsets & storks nests
Saturday night we arrive from Lisbon (1h 20m drive) to hotel Alma Lusa Comporta
Our suite is beautifully designed and decorated in Comporta Style with terrace doors that open up to an outdoor pool.
In time for ‘Sunset Sessions’ with DJ on the gorgeous rooftop bar. Drinking a Black Pig Gin under dappled light and natural bunting. Straw lamp shades swing in the breeze. A giant bird silhouetted on the orange horizon is a stork. Golden sun dissolves into a red hued sky. Photographic artworks Ethereal Roots by Celia Rogge adorn the hall walls.
Hot footing it to the beach, literally, as flip-flops plunge into deep soft sand. To the wooden boardwalk flanked by pinheiro bravo pine trees. Pure white sea shells are scattered on the shore. Waves reflect sunlight back as bright white glitter. Sand dimples in mounds of shade and light. Raffia parasols, then a sea of rainbow brollies, opens up to a near deserted beach.
At Ilha do Arroz for lunch of the tastiest tomato and mozzarella salad, delicious garlic grilled prawns, Padron peppers and a glass of chilled rosé. Sat at a superb corner table, with a view of the wide sandy beach and cobalt sea. The sea is chilly…well; it is the Atlantic, numbing and cooling hot skin, a contrast to the 35°C heat. The cool breeze acts like AC. Paddle boarders brave the ocean.
We walk back past the Arroz Ceifeira rice building and vibrant green rice fields. The large quantities of water needed to grow the rice lead to mosquitoes, which attract frogs. These attract the beautiful storks that migrate from Africa to make giant nests built on chimneys or bell towers.
Ambling through the cute town, we love ‘The Life Juice - Shop, eat and drink’ - (that’s my motto too!) with its map wallpaper, ornaments, and fragrances.
It's hot to shop, but the stylish outdoor market near the hotel is open on weekends. The bar and seating area are buzzy, as we browse the lovely merchandise - hippy-chic beachwear, kaftans, rattan hats, jewellery and artwork: Collage Art by Philippe Patricio. Storks perch in nests above the tented roof. Nearby Casa da Cultura is an indoor market with wooden chopping boards, olive bowls, and clothing.
At GOMES Casa de Vinhos + Petiscos for dinner on the lawn. Inside, the white dining room has a cork tree suspended from the ceiling, roots and all.
Guests' crumpled faces relax at the varied breakfast buffet. Poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, watermelon, pastel de nata, cake, and a sci-fi toaster.
At Carvahal beach, the wind gently caresses a cool breeze over sun-soaked skin.
We visit the spa at the hotel for massages - a fantastic way to reset. Sat on a yellow sofa in the reception of this design hotel, I flick through Assouline's beautiful coffee-table book Comporta Bliss. There are stylish raffia discs on the ceiling, plants, and natural wood with bright colours.
Relaxed and rejuvenated, walking back out, the air smells fresh and of citronella. A tiny gecko darts across the white path in the sunshine. A fragrant waft of cocoa emits from the plants.
This evening we stroll back past long low white buildings with blue trim. It’s like the Cotswolds of Portugal but instead of Farrow & Ball green, windows are painted with the region's signature cobalt blue - the colour of the bracing, Atlantic Ocean.
Back to Ilha do Arroz for an excellent sunset dinner of grilled dourada fish. A blue-eyed cat eyes us expectantly.
Long purple fountain grass sways in the breeze as we enjoy breakfast by the pool. A wander around the shops selling Comporta chic: Traces of Me, DCK for board shorts and beach throws, Poke house, Teresa Allegre and Briffa.
A half an hour drive to beach; Praia de Melides, past broccoli-shaped pinheiro manso pine trees. Vida Dura, a delightful store in the cute seaside town, offers bright crockery and eclectic dinner place settings. Noemina is full of gorgeous gifts. Cats snooze in quiet cobbled streets in the sunshine and we meander past a lovely pile of carved stone books.
A large white building appears with dark red window frames and sky-blue trim of the Hotel Vermelho. Stepping through wooden doors to gorgeous surroundings, we sit at Louboutin's signature red table for a glass of local wine with snacks. There are cream rope-fringed parasols, a lush planted colourful garden and manicured lawns. Expensively dressed, well-heeled hotel guests make us rather regret having stumbled off the beach in Havaianas and I wish I’d put on my red shoes! A balcony has a view of the stunning grounds and a wall with quirky ceramic bird heads. I spy a cockatoo! The petite bar is ornate silver by Villareal goldsmiths and features an Easter canopy, like a holy float procession.
We meet at Vertigem Azul on the marina by the Design Hotel in Troia for a dolphin trip. It's cancelled due to the strange fog resting on the horizon. You can catch a catamaran or ferry to Setubal from here, but visibility might not be so good today. Unfazed, we head through the haze to the Troia sand dunes. It’s warm but we can’t see the horizon or the land of Setúbal opposite. There are Troia Roman ruins, however, we’re happy to chill on the misty beach.
We’ve pre-booked dinner at the popular Comporta Café. Music thumping, we share a menu with an overwhelming choice. Crochet parasols filter the setting sun over dimpled sand and a fire pit. We soon relax into it after a cocktail, rewarded by the sight of peach, mint, and lilac stripes in the sky as the sun drops into the sea. Parasols become black silhouettes. Relieved now to be viewing it from behind the window - not outside in the cool breeze under blankets like our fellow guests. Espinheira Licor de Ginja is offered as lobsters dance in a bubbling tank.
From the sublime to the beach club - we head to our booked day beds at Sublime Comporta beach club. We lunch on Poke bowls on the loungers. A huge dragonfly zooms past, threatening to take out my sublime Whispering Angel. Pineapple and lime lollies are fibrous and refreshing. A man walks past with a blue and yellow parrot on his shoulder - perhaps he’s selling ‘Pieces of Cake’? A closer peek into the cool box reveals it is doughnuts, and kids follow him like the Pied Piper.
Disco house tunes play as we drink cocktails and watch a game of beach volleyball at the Sublime bar. It has gorgeous interiors and sells soft organic cotton Ts, sweats and lightweight scarves with Sublime embroidery.
You could have dinner at Sem Porta in Carvalhal, but we head back to the hotel. At local ambient restaurant Almo, we indulge in a dinner of cuttlefish, and black rice with local wine: Herdade rosé - the last supper of the holiday.
Photos by Crystal McClory
Activities include surf and stand-up paddle lessons, cycling, horse riding, boat rental, wine tasting, dolphin watching, Roman Ruins of Troia, Badoca Safari Park and Black Pig Gin theme park! Or just enjoy contemplation in Comporta.
We drive back to Lisbon airport, past blackened tree trunks. The cork bark is stripped and numbered 1-9, harvested every nine years to make wine corks. Passing olive trees, and vineyards as the road turns to mirror. Storks nest on electricity pylons. Fields of corn glint golden.
Comporta is unspoiled nature, white sandy beaches, pine trees, sun and peace.
Written by Crystal McClory
For more info and to organise your trip contact Abbotts Travel
Tel: 020 8989 9445 / firstname.lastname@example.org