The majority of visitors traveling in Portugal make a beeline for the big-hitting attractions like the famous Algarve beaches, the Benagil Sea Cave or the epic surfing. But if you want to avoid the crowds while still soaking up some of the beautiful Portuguese coast, head to the Arrábida region and try out some adrenaline pumping coasteering the instead.
The Arrábida region of Portugal is situated between the town of Sesimbra and the metropolitan city of Setúbal. The area is an enchanting place where sea, mountains, and land come together in an idyllic 35 kilometer long protected Nature Park. The chiseled hills and golden sand beaches of the Serra da Arrábida mountain range are the perfect places for both tourists and locals to enjoy Portugal’s outdoor wonders at their best.
Fun Fact: The Serra da Arrábida has been a Nature Park since 1976 and comprises a forested area of 10, 521 hectares (25, 998 acres) and an altitude going up to 501 meters (1, 644 feet).
Our coasteering day started mid-morning at the Portinho da Arrábida WIND headquarters located in the Natural Park of Arrábida. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by high energy staff and sized up for equipment. We suited up in a spacious shaded area, just beside the main building. As soon as everyone was ready, our small group was given safety instructions and a quick coasteering how-to.
Then it was time for our adventure to begin!
The coasteering site was to be reached via water. From the shop, we walked down to the beach and embarked on the zodiac. When everyone was aboard, we took off in a wave of white water, making a beeline for the Arrábida cliffs.
Once at the site, we wasted no time jumping off the boat and swimming to the first section of cliffs.
To ease the group into coasteering, the start of the course was made up of beginner jumps no taller than a couple of meters high. It was a terrific way to warm up and get used to the crossed-arms-legs-together cliff-jumping technique.
Then came the big kid jumps, which, after our warm-up wasn’t so bad.
For the next two hours we swam, climbed and jumped our way down the Arrábida coast, each jump getting a little higher than the last. It was exhilarating to enjoy such an amazing region in such a daredevil-esque way.
On top of the climbing, swimming, and jumping, the tour also included two large cave entries, where we were able to go inside some seaside caverns and learn a little about their history and current use.
Towards the end of our coasteering trek came the mother of all jumps.
The final cliff jump was the highest of them all standing at about 10 meters (32 feet) tall. As I stepped up and readied myself for the concluding jump, all I could do was stand still for a moment, my mind repeatedly asking why I continually do this to myself. Here I am going against human nature and self-preservation, staring far down into the water below, trying to convince myself to leap!
Well, I did successfully make the jump and like anyone who has jumped from a height can attest – the first jump is always the hardest.
After getting over the initial adrenaline rush of the first jump came a second, and then a third before swimming back to the boat for the ride back to shore.
What a day, what an adventure!
Are you thinking about trying coasteering for the first time? Trust us when we say, if thrills are what you are looking for, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Here are a few of our side notes and consideration to contemplate before signing up for this type of tour.
The cost for coasteering can vary depending on the country, location, and duration of the activity.
For a 2-3 hours beginner coasteering adventure with WIND, the approximate cost is 35€ per person. This cost includes two guides, insurance, a zodiac boat drop off and pick up and all your equipment (wetsuit, helmet, and lifejacket). The only thing you need to bring with you is your bathing suit, a towel (to be left at the shop) and an old pair of shoes you don’t mind getting wet.
Having never tried coasteering before, Joey and I had very high hopes for this new adrenaline-packed experience and the sport sure delivered!
We loved every second of our experience with WIND, a tourism company that specializes in nature exploration and adventure sports. With any large group activity especially of the extreme variety, it can be hard to make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
The guides were very good at catering the experience to the group’s ability and comfort level all while making sure safety was the priority. They had a thoughtfully planned out coasteering route that started with easy-lower jumps and gradually built to higher and more technical ones.
As adrenaline junkies at heart, for Joey and I, this may have been our first experience coasteering, but it will indeed not be our last.
Would you ever be brave enough to suit up in a wetsuit and scale a cliff to try coasteering?
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