Ilha da Berlenga Things to Do

  • Berlenga - Portugal
    Berlenga - Portugal
    by solopes
  • Berlenga - Portugal
    Berlenga - Portugal
    by solopes
  • Berlenga - Portugal
    Berlenga - Portugal
    by solopes

Most Recent Things to Do in Ilha da Berlenga

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    Island circuit

    by solopes Updated Dec 16, 2013

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    Berlenga - Portugal
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    And suddenly the boat stops!

    After several yellow smiles, the problem was fixed, and the marvelous circuit could proceed.

    High tides don't allow visiting the caves, but, even so, if the sea is calm the tour along the southern side of the island is something not to be missed.

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    Fishing

    by solopes Updated Dec 30, 2012

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    Berlenga - Portugal
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    The islands are reputed as one of the best fishing spots in Portugal. Well...

    One day, I went there with a group of friends to fish. Sixteen "fishermen", or something alike.

    How many fishes? Yes... zero.

    They are there, but... you have to know.

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    Caves circuit

    by solopes Updated Dec 30, 2012

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    One of the "must do" in Berlengas is a circuit around the island to visit its several caves, some of them very beautiful.

    It's easy and cheap to do: you just have to wait for the tide and to accept joining a group to hire one of the small boats starting from the beach, and in about an hour or so... it's done.

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    The fortress

    by solopes Updated Sep 7, 2012

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    Berlenga - Portugal
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    Once a five stars hotel, the fortress of S. João Baptista, built in the 17th century, keeps being one of the possible places to sleep, now in a self-catering basis, with the support of a small mini-market.

    Even if you don't intend to stay there, the free visit is one of the mandatory highlights of the island.

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    Diving around Berlenga

    by DSwede Updated Aug 22, 2011

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    Haliotis dive shop is one of the primary dive facilities in Peniche. They offer classes and training, as well as regular diving trips. They fill up quickly on the weekends, so best to reserve early.

    10-passenger boats will take you on the ~45minute journey out to Berlenga Island. The boats are open sided and can take a lot of wind and spray, particularly in rough water. Do not bring anything on the boat that cannot get wet, unless it is in a sealed bag.

    The diving is reported as the best in continental Portugal since the islands are a protected habitat. But I must admit that I was not very impressed. The cold water and rocky bottoms do not do well to give much underwater life. Most of the dives were full of various sea grasses, algea and minimal fish. In the ~2hrs underwater, the highlights were one scorpion fish, a few nudibrachs and one cuttlefish.

    Included with the 2-dive trip is lunch on Berlenga Island. You will have one hour to explore the area on your own.

    Bring what ever you have, or you can request the shop to provide for you. A full set of equipment costs about 20Eur. Nitrox is available for +4Eur, but due to depths and dive times, it is not required.

    The water temperature is 12~17C, so most people will opt for a 7mil suit with a hood.

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    The beach

    by solopes Updated Sep 21, 2010

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    Very small, very secluded (and as cold as all the Atlantic beaches) this bay is very calm, with crystal waters, and the best place to bath in the Island (some good swimmers prefer to dive from the fort).

    If you climb the hill, the sights will reward you.

    A warning: Don't dig in the sand - removing garbagge is not easy in the island, and you may have an unpleasant surprise.

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    Yellow-Legged Gull Paradise

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Sep 18, 2008

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    Inquisitive Yellow-Legged Gulls

    The whole island is covered by Yellow-Legged Gulls (close relatives of the Herring Gull), which is not surprising since this is one of the main nesting grounds for Portugese gulls and even some from Spain. Their nests are scattered across every available flat surface, even up to the edge of the walking trails. With birds nesting and flying everywhere, the island is a cacaphony of noise with the gulls making all sorts of sounds - sometimes even sounding like cats meowing. They are quite reluctant to move off their nests and make a great din if you approach too closely as you walk by. Of the ones that did retreat, we saw that most nests contained two large speckled eggs. The only terrestrial animals on the island are rabbits and black mice. I actually saw one small brown rabbit hopping away through the fields of nests. Walking around here reminded me of my VT friend 'Zweiblumen' who has been on a number of remote islands of a similar nature and, at that time, was just finishing up a work assignment of several months in the Falklands.

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    Nesting Gulls & the Estrela Rocks

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jul 19, 2008

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    Nearing the Western End of Berlenga

    After we had climbed back up from Fort de S.J. Baptista, I was really hot so I took my T-shirt off to fully enjoy the cool breezes off the Ocean as we continued further to the western most point of the island. Along the way, we had this view of the Estrela rocks offshore from a typical nesting scene on the main island. It was not far from here that we took a bit of shrapnel from a load that one of the birds dropped as it buzzed us from behind! I actually ended up getting a good sun burn on my face that afternoon - there was a high haze in the sky that masked the effect that the sun was actually having on us. That was good though, because that was just about all the tanning that we did on the whole trip!

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    Berlenga Lighthouse

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 6, 2004

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    Farol do Berlenga

    The rocky outcropping of the Berlenga's is safeguarded for mariners by the 72 foot high lighthouse that you see here. Its total height above the ocean is 396 feet and its light is visible at sea for 27 miles. This stone tower was built in 1836 and has continued to operate up until the present, having been automated in 1985. We passed by on our trek from the Atlantic ocean cove to the old Fort. The strange thing is, two days later while on the 8-hour Paris-New York flight segment of our homeward trip, I was reading the 17th novel (The Commodore) by Patrick O'Brian in the Jack Aubrey series (recent movie 'Master & Commander'). At one stage of the tale, two departing squadrons of early 1800's Royal Navy ships agreed to meet at the 'Berlings' as they headed for West Africa. The book then went on to describe these treacherous islands - the same ones that I had only just walked on! I had to laugh.

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    A Safe Anchorage

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Our Landing View

    Caramusteira Bay is the one safe anchorage on the Berlengas. It is here that the main stone dock and steps are located, along with a restaurant and a bar. There are also several small houses used for the transient crowd who live here on and off, as well as some flat spots for tenting that have been cleared beside the trail up the hill. The tour boats and the regular ferry run from Peniche all dock here and you can either set out on foot or hire a small boat to take you diving or exploring the many sea caves. We did not linger too long here on landing but we did enjoy sitting down at the outside bar for a couple of cold beers (E1 apiece) after we had finished our explorations! In fact, the only other people at the bar were the lady who seemed to be running it and an older guy that she was talking to at a table. They were also sipping away on the Super Bocks as they sat in the sunshine. He had a great big plastic bucket on the floor beside him, and it was full of empties!

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    Fortaleza

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Now Peniche's Museum

    Our time in Peniche was so short and we took up so much time touring the Berlenga Islands, that we really did not have time to properly see the Fortaleza. Located directly beside the marina (I parked my car under its walls while we headed off on our boat tour), this 16th century fort was transformed into a prison during the Salazar years. However, it is now a museum - but one that we did not have a chance to sample.

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    A Huge Sea Cave

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Massive Sea Cave

    At the furthest western point that I could reach, I looked back and could see this very large sea cave - so big that this photo does not really give you a sense of its scale. I think that this is called Covado Sonho (Dream Cave) and it is one end of a massive tunnel that the sea has punched through the granite from one side of the island to the other - called Furado Grande (Big Hole).

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    A Granite Archipelago

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Berlenga Islands

    Although this is a view of the Berlenga Islands as we were leaving, you will see the same thing as you approach! The main island is about 85 m high, 800 m wide and 1500 m long, so it is possible to cover most of it in a day walking tour. In the centre of the main island of Berlenga, the lighthouse can be made out and, just to the right, the landing area and only buildings on the island are located in a small bay, Caramusteiro, with even a bit of a sandy beach! The group of islands consists of the main island as well as some other sharp and rocky groupings known as the Farilhoes and Estalas (one of which can be seen to the right). Today, the islands are uninhabited in winter but host biologists, some fishermen and tourists in the summer months. We had not heard of this group of islands until we were reading some of the tourist literature sent to us by the Portugese Tourism agency and, even then, it took me some time to figure out that this was actually a group of islands and not just another town in Portugal!

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    Stone Construction

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Close-up of the Fort

    The Fort was once a very fancy Pousada back in the 1950's. Literature even reports that the waiters wore bow ties and long-tailed coats. However, that all ended with the 1974 Revolution that overthrew Salazar and the fort was left deserted. It now has a new lease on life, thanks to the Friends of the Berlengas Association. They have taken steps to restore it and, in fact, some of those notices plastered on its door announced that it would be opening for the 2004 tourist season on May 29th - we were there 4 days too early! One of the men who was working on it came out while we were there and we had a good chat. He said that it suffered a lot of damage from the sea over the winter and they were fixing it up. He said that it is used like a glorified camping spot in summer - you are inside but you have to bring most of the essentials with you and only limited services are provided. I found the stone construction of its walls to be quite interesting.

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    The Approach to the Fort

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 5, 2004

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    Footpath to the Fort

    The photo that you see here is a close approximation of the one that we first saw in our Portugese tourist literature - the one that made us want to include a stop here at some point in our trip! It was an amazing sight in the bright sunshine, viewed from high above with thousands of wheeling and nesting gulls making their racket! The original Fort de Sao Joao Baptista was built in 1651 as part of the Portugese defensive network. However, in 1666 it was blown up after 28 defenders were overwhelmed by 1500 Spanish attackers and a bombardment from 15 ships. It was a short-lived setback, and todays Fort was rebuilt in the late 1600s. We took quite a pile of photographs as we slowly descended the set of stone stairs laid down to provide landward access to the site.

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