Skinny dipping in Burgau


n the 4th day of our holiday, we decided to stretch our muscles and set out to hike the Burgau Coastal Walk. This 10-kilometre trail runs along the cliffs between the towns of Luz and Salema, and is popular among English tourists and Algarvians alike. We started from a secluded beach in Salema following a paved hiking path. The trail soon changed into sandy footpaths almost hidden by shrubs and tall grasses, and sometimes we went off the trail to inspect low, abandoned houses which were left to the elements in this part of region. The view here was breathtaking – blue-sea dotted with occasional sail boats, cloudless sky and the famous limestone cliffs of West Algarve on the horizon, unobstructed by trees and extending as far as the eyes can see.

Below the cliffs are deserted, rocky coves that are quite difficult and maybe even be dangerous to reach. Our guide book mentioned these intimate coves, and feeling a little adventurous, we decided to find one for ourselves and go skinny dipping.

Halfway through our hike, we saw a manageable cliff, climbed down the steep path by hanging on the more stable rocks, sliding down the beach together with the rocks crumbling under our weight. I could hear my leather boots and leather handbag scratching the rocks but my only concern was to get down alive, because with one mistake you could hit your head in the big rocks below.

The beach didn’t have velvety sand but rocks, smooth stones and pebbles, a welcome massage for our feet after the long hike. Despite the early autumn chill, the sun was scorching, burning our skin as we baked on the rocks. Without towels, sun protection or sun lotion, we welcomed the heat and the sunshine, two things that disappear in the Netherlands when autumn sets in.

The waves were particularly huge that day, crashing wildly to the cliff’s walls and carrying big stones back to the ocean. The sound it created reminds me of fireworks on New Year’s Eve. We were a little apprehensive about swimming, worried that we would be swallowed by the waves. West Algarve is one of the more popular surfing destination in Europe, and you’ll notice this when visiting its beaches. There are many surfing shops offering courses to tourists.

While mustering the courage to go swimming, we first decided to just enjoy the isolation and the tranquility around us. But the turquoise water was irresistible and after 10 minutes of sunbathing, I stripped off my clothes and walked towards the icy, cold water of the Atlantic Ocean. I sat on the edge of the beach, waited till the water rolled my feet. My body quivered at the initial shock from the cold water, which couldn’t be more than 10 degrees. I shrieked and cried, wanting to run back to the dry part of the beach. But the waves were quicker than my flight mode, and I was suddenly engulfed by a rush of frigid seawater, wrapping me into a blanket of foam that felt like silk. It was delicious.

The sensation disappeared as quickly as the sun kissed away the drops of water from my body. I hauled my naked ass off the water and spread myself out on the hot stones. Lying here stark naked, in the middle of the day, exposed to prying eyes of anyone passing by the cliffs, felt like freedom.

I reached out for my cigarette, savored the first puff after almost two years of not smoking, and stared at the sky. I was at peace. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that such proximity to nature could evoke such happiness.

We goofed around the cove for a couple of hours, running naked, holding hands, embracing each other while watching the sparkling water and kissing torridly.

Of course we planned on having sex on the beach. Why else would we risk our lives climbing down a dangerous cliff? But somehow our lust melted away amidst Burgau’s beauty and the remoteness of this cove. At that moment, enjoying each other’s presence was enough and we were certain that those feelings will linger for sometime, hopefully long enough to weather stormy days in the future.

It got boring after a while so we took photos and I started scribbling fervently, wanting to immortalize this special day. And then we realized that our small bottle of water was almost empty, the sun suddenly became unbearably hot and we were very thirsty. We decided to head back. Only to find out the extent of our recklessness.

When we looked up, the walls of the cliff was almost vertical. We had difficulty finding rocks that will support our weights as most crumbles when we stepped on them, raining pieces of rocks down my direction because I was climbing behind the husband. Our romantic date suddenly turned into a death-defying adventure but since I’m sharing this story with you, anno 2019, means we were able to come home alive.

November 13, 2012, Algarve, Portugal