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Praia da Coelha to Praia de Sao Rafael - 4.75Km

This walk is full of dramatic, beautiful cliff top scenery, it is proper wow from one end to the other. If you're a photographer this is a walk that keeps giving and giving, with spectacular view after spectacular view. The walk is pretty much all cliff top paths and the cliffs at this point on the coast get pretty high. It is mostly on a rough sandy path and at times scrambly, so you will need to be fairly agile, if you use a walking stick or have joint problems (hip, knee etc) then this probably isn't the walk for you. The distance of 4.75 Km is there and back but is very approximate, there are multiple paths you can take, either made by previous walkers or by the rain and you will want to make a diversion or two to take in the scenery. There are a number of peninsula's and promontories you will want to explore, as well as a 'hidden' beach, at the bottom of a long flight of steps. If you take in all of the diversions from the main path the distance is about 3.25 Km, a direct walk is much less, about 1.5Km.

Take care of the sandstone cliff edges, if you take a wrong path some end at the cliff edge. The cliffs are eroding so don't go to close to the edge. The cliffs on this walk are high and there are a number of paths pretty close to the edge and some that are clearly dangerous, stay away from them. The sign below is everywhere and is serious. Also take care of any fencing, mostly it isn't to be trusted. That being said I think it's pretty easy to see where the safe paths are.

As much as possible I'll include piccies so you know you're on the right track. Start and end point car parks are:

The West end of the walk has a couple of parking options, a small car park next to Coelha beach and a much bigger car park which is a bit of a walk down a track to the beach.

This is the car park next to the beach.

The East end of the walk is a large car park above Praia de Sao Rafael.

I'll be describing the walk starting from Praia da Coelha. From the small car park closest to the beach there are a number of paths, any of which will take you in the right direction. I took the one closest to the beach which has nice views of Praia da Coelha, see the piccie below.

In previous blogs I've tried to translate and explain beach names, with limited success it has to be said. Coelha means rabbit, however I've not seen a rabbit on rabbit beach.

The path at this point looks a little close to the edge but actually isn't too bad, however if you're uncomfortable there are plenty of other options a little more inland.

Before long you'll come to the first dramatic view.

Following this the next part of the walk the landscape was too scrambly for me so I cut back inland using this path.

This is what the landscape that you're going around looks like.

Carry on long the path until you get to a track with a metal railing, see below.

After crossing the track you can turn immediately right back towards the sea, see the piccie below.

Once you get to the cliff top the views both ways are pretty special. Looking back is Praia das Salamitras (no explanation of the name I'm afraid).

Looking East is Praia da Ponta Grande, which translates as big point, or tip, which is definitely an apt name. Anyhow the view both ways is impressive.

At this point you'll be taking the path that goes around Praia da Ponta Grande, past the white house in the distance.

The path is fairly close to the edge of the cliff and from a distance looks a bit daunting, but up close isn't as bad as it looks. Nonetheless take care. Follow the path past the house where after a short distance you'll come to a slope at the bottom of which the path continues.

At this point there are steps going up to the house and steps down to somewhere which isn't obvious.

These are in fact steps down to a 'hidden' beach, which if you looks on google maps is between Praia da Ponta Grande and Praia da Ponta Pequena. I counted the steps, there are 60. We've been to the beach a few times, it is lovely, but doesn't get a lot of light, there also isn't much beach at high tide, see the piccie below. Nonetheless for me it's always well worth the 120 steps there and back, it feels like a different world when you get to the bottom.

To continue the walk turn right back onto the path at the top of the steps. From here the path goes back up the the cliff top and is a bit scrambly for a bit, see the piccies below.

Once you're at the top you'll find a peninsula which circles around the hidden beach, it is well worth exploring, the views are pretty magnificent. This is looking East towards Praia da Ponta Pequena (small point or tip).

Once you've finished exploring the path continues around the back of Praia da Ponta Pequena. This is what the landscape looks like, the path you'll need to take is obvious, to the left and back of the picture. There are other paths, however to me they mostly looked pretty dangerous.

The path will take you past a fence and although is fairly close to the cliff edge it's not close enough to feel unsafe. Once again though, take care.

The path will lead you to a ravine which has steps down and back up the other side, see the piccie below. The steps down walking from Praia da Ponta Pequena are steep so take care, going down seated, a step at a time isn't a bad option.

Once the other side of the ravine there's yet more great views. The piccie below is the Eastern end of Praia dos Pirates, which does translate as Pirates.

Take the path at the back of the bay where it will take you over a low wall by a fence following which you'll get your first view of Praia de Sao Rafael. The piccie below is looking back at the wall and fence.

The view of Sao Rafael below is in fact two beaches, Praia de Sao Rafael in the distance with restaurant on the beach and to the left in the picture is Praia dos Paradinha (which means stop). Both beaches are one if the tide is low enough.

The path from here crosses a craggy sandstone terrain and is a bit scrambly in places. There are options for paths, but these are a couple of piccies taken from the path I took.

At the end of the path you'll find the car park behind Praia de Sao Rafael. Walking back the other way is a reverse of this description, however I was confused close to the start of the walk where there is a fork in the path and in fact you want the right hand path, not the left, see the piccie below.

Praia de Sao Rafael is worth exploring, it's very photogenic because of the sandstone rock formations on the beach, so make sure you have time before returning on the walk to Praia da Coelha.

I cannot recommend this walk enough, you may find may find more impressive cliff top walks elsewhere in the world, but not many to top this.

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