Visit Berlenga Island, the last frontier
Visit Berlenga Island– Berlenga Island, located off the coast of Portugal, is a natural paradise with breathtaking scenery and an impressive variety of marine life. Visitors can explore the island’s main attractions, such as the São João Baptista Fortress, a national monument built in the 17th century to protect the island from enemy attacks.
Berlenga Grande Beach is the most popular spot for sunbathing and swimming, while Fisherman’s Village offers amenities such as a restaurant, boarding house, and public restrooms. The Duque de Bragança Lighthouse, standing at almost 30 meters tall, provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. Additionally, visitors can explore the island’s geological formations and caves, including Furado Grande, Cova do Sonho, and Tromba do Elefante, or take a boat trip to see them up close. The island also features two marked pedestrian trails, the Old Island Trail and the Berlenga Trail, leading to various viewpoints and attractions. To preserve the natural reserve, there are guidelines to follow, such as not bringing domestic animals and not spearfishing.
Fauna and Flora
Berlenga Island has unique animal and plant species due to its minimal human intervention. The Airo bird, which is the icon of the archipelago, is a prime example of the unique wildlife found here. If you are interested, Berlenga Island is an excellent place to observe some of these unique species. As for the flora, the island is mainly covered in shrubs as the lack of soil and salt-laden winds are not ideal for tree planting. Endemic creeping plants are abundant on the island, with Armeria Berlengensis being the most characteristic sub-shrub.
Due to the crystal-clear waters and the island’s natural surroundings, Berlenga is an ideal location to enjoy a range of activities such as diving, snorkeling, canoeing, or paddle boarding.
When to visit Berlenga Island
Summer is the prime time to visit Berlenga Island with milder temperatures, better transport options, and an open island restaurant. However, it is possible to visit during other seasons, although it is less recommended due to worse weather conditions.
During your visit to Berlenga, there are many nature-related activities to explore, such as diving, snorkeling, or kayaking. Boat tours include various activities and there are tours to explore the caves of these granite islands, such as Gruta da Flandres, Gruta da Lagosteira, Gruta Azul, or Gruta Muxinga.
In more detail:
Things that you can do in Berlenga island
Berlenga Island has two marked pedestrian trails: the Old Island trail and the Berlenga Trail, indicated in white on the tourist map mentioned earlier. The former leads to Milreu and Buzinas viewpoints, while the latter takes you to the Lighthouse, Cisterns, Cova do Sonho Viewpoint, and the Sao Joo Baptista Fortress.
The best attractions of Berlenga island:
Berlenga Grande Beach
The Berlenga Grande Beach, also called Carreiro do Mosteiro beach due to the ancient monastery built there in the 16th century, is highly coveted as it’s situated just next to Fisherman’s Village, where boats anchor.
Fortress of São João Baptista
- The Fortress of São João Baptista is the most captivating site on Berlenga Island and is the island’s emblematic image when viewed from the cliffs. Constructed as a national monument beginning in 1651 by King D. João IV, it was completed 5 years later. The fortress served to safeguard the island against attacks from enemies, such as North African privateers.
- Because of its proximity to the beach, Fisherman’s Village has amenities such as a restaurant, boarding house, and public bathrooms. The village is the only settlement in Berlengas archipelago and has been configured this way since the 1940s.
- Castelinho, which was built in 1952, is located in Fisherman’s Village and was constructed using some of the structures that belonged to the aforementioned monastery.
- At the top of the island, you can find the cisterns, which are responsible for collecting and supplying fresh water to Berlenga Island.
Duque de Bragança Lighthouse
- The Duque de Bragança Lighthouse, towering almost 30 meters high, is located at the top of the island, and can be seen from Peniche on clear days. The Marquis of Pombal ordered its construction in 1758, but it took almost a century to complete. It is over 40km in height and length.
The Fortress beach and bridge
- The best place to swim is the Fortress beach and bridge, as the bridge has a prime location for excellent water jumps.
Berlenga island Viewpoints
- By following the old island trail, visitors can discover the natural viewpoints of Melreu and Buzinas. These viewpoints offer stunning views of Peniche and the islets of Cerro da Velha, Ponta, do Meio, and Ilhéu Maldito.
- Exploring the diverse geological formations and caves on Berlengas Island, including Furado Grande, Cova do Sonho, Tromba do Elefante, Vale da Quebrada, Carreiro dos Cações, and Rochedo da Baleia (next to the fortress), is highly recommended. A boat trip through the caves would provide an opportunity to appreciate their intricate details.
Code of Conduct to visit Berlenga Island:
Remember to follow the code of conduct to preserve the natural reserve of high biological interest that Berlenga Island is part of.
- Always walk on the trails and respect the signs.
- Don’t leave any rubbish, take it with you back to Peniche.
- Do not pick up or damage the plants on the island.
- Always keep your distance from the animals, for example birds, and do not feed them.
- Visitors are not allowed to take domestic animals to Berlenga Island.
- Avoid noises that disturb the environment and the birds.
- You can only line fish in the identified places.
- Capturing any invertebrates such as octopus, limpets, mussels, sea urchins, or crabs is prohibited. Regrettably, the island strictly prohibits spearfishing because it endangers the marine ecosystem.
- If you go camping, do it at the campsite. You cannot light bonfires.
- On the beach, keep your distance from the cliffs.