Baleal Island – Top Things to do on the West Coast

Written by

Gabor Boszormenyi

Baleal Island is a magical place for me; I come here often because it has lots of outdoor activities. This place means freedom to me in so many ways.

The area is full of those things that I enjoy the most and can practice here. Surfing along the scenic sandy beaches, walk around the dunes, or fly my drone and see the landscape from above.

I also own a few sport kites that I love to fly here due to the constant light ocean breeze and white sandy beaches.

A little bit of history

The name of Baleal Island has to do something with whales, as locals told me. I was digging a bit, and I found that back in the old days, Baleal inherited this name due to the large fishing of whales and tuna. And also because the name whale is translated “baleia” in Portuguese. For me, even the shape of the island looks like a whale; probably, I am not the first one who thinks about that.

The whole area was underwater, and Baleal and Peniche were individual islands close to the coastlines. As centuries passed by, the water level lowered therefore connected the mainland to the islands.

People who visit the island often can see Fishermans fishing on the rocks. And there are still some wooden boats fishing around the island, bringing fresh seafood every day to the nearby restaurants. Some of the boats anchored down on the island’s little beach.

Baleal island fishing boats
Photo by: Gabor Boszormenyi

Location

Baleal islands are on the west coast of Portugal, only an hour’s drive up north from Lisbon. The main island can relatively easy to approach. There is a small road that is surrounded by wide sandy beaches on both sides. From the Baleal Islands, we can see Peniche and Berlengas islands in the Atlantic ocean’s distance.

The island itself forms from 3 tiny islands and can be approachable on foot. You can explore the terrain but be careful; it can be slippery even more on rainy days. 

If you decide to take a walk which I recommend, you can observe the second island and the unusual rock formations. Unfortunately, the last island is only visible from a boat or the air. I flew my drone several times around the Baleal islands and took some great images.

Baleal island
Photo by Gabor Boszormenyi

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Activity on Baleal Island

It is the perfect getaway from a busy lifestyle in the summer to enjoy endless beaches and long walks. Although surfing is very popular here due to the great shoreline and amazing waves, besides water sports, the area is also spectacular for trekking, scuba diving, and photography.

Top place for surfing

There is no question about it that surfing is the number one activity on these beaches. Since the ’80s Baleal and Peniche have become the top surfing paradise in Portugal. One of the main reasons is Supertubos which are only a few km away from Baleal island. The shoreline forms the perfect barrel waves here — no wonder why Rip curl picked Supertobos for the Rip Curl Pro competition every year.

Besides the competition, there are more than 800 schools giving surf lessons around Baleal. Lots of locals and tourists came here to do their favorite water sports.

I learned surfing here as well because the shore is perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers. I am going to share a few rentals and schools I have already tried.

SurfMore

Surfcamp

Photography

Baleal Island is unique from the perspective of a landscape photographer since tilted stones form the island. Therefore it is quite interesting from the ground, and it is a new view from the sky above.

These rocks’ shape is even more interesting, just a few meters from the shore tilting the drone camera straight down. Look at the colors and texture of the coral reefs and the edges of the island.

Although my all-time favorite is the last island, its name is Ilheu de Fora, and it has the shape of a V from the sky above.

Culinary

There are some great bars and restaurants in Baleal; you basically can’t go wrong in any direction, although I want to share some of my favorites. 

The seafood is vibrant here and comes from those fishermen that I mentioned above. So it’s worth trying the octopus or sardines.

Bruno’s bar is right at the beach with a great view of the ocean, and they are offering great hamburgers and seafood.

Another great restaurant is Taberna do Ganhão on Baleal island itself; they serve traditional seafood. It also has a great view of the island.

I hope you enjoyed this article; if you do so, please share it with your friends.

About me

My name is Gabor, I am a User Interface designer & adventure photographer. I'm constantly seeking new challenges, whether it's in the mountains or on remote islands.

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