HomeLIFESTYLEa little paradise off Peniche

a little paradise off Peniche

At Berlengas are a small archipelago located about 10 km off Peniche, which includes the island of Berlenga Grande and associated reefs, the Farilhões-Forcadas and Estelas, constituting a small paradise surrounded by clear and calm waters, great for dive and snorkel.

To begin with, the larger island is of absolute beauty, with shocking rock formations and open caves and is the only one you can visit, and observe the former home of a monastery, but which now only serves as a home for thousands of seabirds. nesting.

Still connected to the island, through a narrow, winding and somewhat creepy path for the most sensitive spirits, we find the Fort of Sao Joao Baptistafrom the 17th century, which is one of the most dramatic and history-laden hostels in the country.

Thus, the island presents a biological heritage with high conservation interest, in such a way that it is protected by legislation, being integrated in the Natural Reserves by the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2011.

In addition, the complex and characteristic geomorphology of the islands and islets is quite unique, which is why it is one of the most popular destinations, especially during the summer, in an archipelago that is 1500 meters long, 800 meters wide, and 88 meters high. maximum and 30 minimum.

About Berlenga Grande Island

There are incredible places to discover in the Berlengas

Berlenga Grande is the largest island in the archipelago, and the only habitable one, which was once a place for the retreat of the monks who built the Monastery of Misericórdia da Berlenga. However, due to the location of the island, food shortages were frequent, which led to the gradual abandonment of the monastery.

In addition, to make matters worse for the monks who found Berlenga a place for contemplation and meditation, looting by corsairs and violent attacks by pirates sailing across the Atlantic were equally frequent situations. Therefore, from this building, currently only a few loose stones and walls remain from the original building that gave rise to a restaurant.

Thus, the most striking and recognized building on the island of Berlenga Grande is the Fortress of S. João Baptista, meanwhile abandoned and converted into accommodation.

How to go to Berlengas?

Not all of the archipelago can be visited, as only the island of Berlenga Grande is accessible to the public and you should always go there by boat.

However, do not be shy, as in Peniche you will find several tourist companies at affordable prices that provide maritime transport to the island, as well as offering walking tours around the island, as well as boat trips through the various caves accessed by sea.

So, whichever operator you choose, you can count on several daily trips to the island and back to the coast. Prices are around the following values:

  • Children up to 3 years old: free
  • From 4 to 12 years old: 10€
  • Over 12 years old: 20€ in low season / 23€ in high season

Added to these values ​​is the value of visits to caves or personalized tours.

Foz do Arelho beach

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What to do in Berlengas

It’s not just the beach that deserves attention on the main island, so discover other points of interest.

explore routes

We suggest two that are characterized by great beauty and that will especially surprise nature lovers.

1. Berlenga route

  • Starting / finishing point: Pescadores neighborhood / Forte de S. João Baptista;
  • Approximate length: 1 km;
  • Approximate duration: 1 hour;
  • Difficulty: easy, but the access to the plateau has a steep slope;
  • Route type: linear;
  • Support: signposted route;
  • Points of interest: Farol plateau; Fort of S. João Baptista; and Cova do Som.

2. Ilha Velha route

  • Starting / finishing point: Pescadores neighborhood;
  • Approximate length: 1 km;
  • Approximate duration: 1 hour;
  • Degree of difficulty: medium, with medium slope;
  • Support: signposted route;
  • Points of interest: Milréu; Horns; Black stone; and Carreiro dos Cações.

bird watching

The Berlengas are home to the only colonies of pelagic seabirds off the coast of mainland Portugal, including six species of seabirds that breed in the archipelago, such as the shearwater, roque de castro, shag, yellow-legged gull, Black-winged Gull and Black-winged Gull, that is, all species under protection.

However, the plateau of the lighthouse, with the cliffs protected from the prevailing winds and the fig tree located on the Carreiro do Mosteiro beach, is one of the best places to look for migratory birds that seek refuge on the island.

Visit caves and caves

The complex geological history of the Berlengas gave rise to a series of recesses, coves, caves, small islets and rocks, which endow the archipelago with a natural beauty that enchants anyone.

However, many of these spaces can only be accessed by boat, so you can hire a tourist company in the port of Peniche for the visits you want.

observe cetaceans

Seeing dolphins playing and jumping in the waves produced by the boats that transport passengers to the island is a real privilege and although there are several species of cetaceans in the waters of the Berlengas Special Protection Area, such as the bottlenose dolphin or the pilot whale , the common dolphin is the one that can be observed with greater regularity.

Go diving and snorkeling

Recreational diving is probably the most sought-after activity by visitors to the island of Berlenga, which is not surprising given that its marine ecosystem is probably the richest in Portuguese waters. Thus, it is possible to observe large shoals of sea bream, safia and horse mackerel, walls covered with gorgonians, rooster fish, large sunfish and impressive groupers.

Snorkeling, although it does not allow you to visit the most beautiful and emblematic underwater sites around the island of Berlenga, helps those who are not divers to admire the underwater life of the berlengas.

Canoeing and paddle boarding

These are two more radical and alternative ways to visit the waters around the Berlengas archipelago and observe the natural beauty of its cliffs, rocks and caves.

Other places of interest in the Berlengas are the Gruta da Flandres, Greta da Inês, Gruta do Brandal, Forte de S. João Baptista, Farol do Duque de Bragança, Gruta Azul, Gruta da Muxinga, Gruta da Lagosteira, Cova do Sonho, Cabeça do Elephant, Path of the Monastery.

Where to eat and sleep in Berlengas

Arrival pier to the island
Access is conditioned and you can only get there by boat.

Carreiro do Mosteiro has the only restaurant with a terrace and a small commercial establishment in Castelinho and there are some accommodations available on the island of Berlengas:

  • Mar e Sol: 6 double rooms
  • Campsite, with places for 6 tents of 2 people, 16 tents of 3 people, 17 tents of 4 people
  • Forte de S. João Baptista, which has accommodation capacity for 50 people, but requires prior reservation with Associação Amigos da Berlenga.

Off the island, in the village of Peniche, you will find all the amenities in terms of accommodation and catering for perfect days of rest.

Useful advice for anyone visiting the Berlengas

Being a space with some particularities, there are some rules to respect, so as not to affect the biodiversity and care to be taken on the island:

  • Always follow the tracks;
  • Do not go into full reserve;
  • Put the garbage in the appropriate containers;
  • Avoid picnics, as there are no conditions for this;
  • Do not catch any animal or plant species, as in addition to endangering the natural heritage of the island, the legislation provides for heavy fines for offenders;
  • Do not walk in the tidal zone, the sensitivity of its settlements is very high;
  • In the Marine Reserve, line fishing is only allowed, not catching any invertebrates, such as octopus, limpets, mussels, sea urchins or crabs;
  • You cannot do spearfishing;
  • The supply of electricity is conditioned, and the respective generator is turned off after 23:00.

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