03 Apr

Berlengas Islands were on my radar for a long time. I had been in love with the image of São João Baptista Fort in the middle of the ocean for so long. The dramatic natural scenery with craggy rock formations and, at the same time, the crystal-clear turquoise water, turn it into a perfect dazzling environment.

Maybe, at the moment, you are asking why it’s such an adventure to discover the island with this idyllic description… You should take into account that the islands are exposed to the huge waves of the ocean. So, if you are susceptible to seasickness or if you are afraid of a strong ripple, maybe this is not for you. The best part? Once the boat trip is over, you end up in paradise.

Berlengas Islands are a fascinating place, full of history and with the perfect conditions to be the shelter for a huge range of animals and plants. There are three uninhabited islands: Estelas, Farilhões and Berlenga Grande, and, due to the exceptional conditions and a diverse ecosystem, they are a natural reserve - Reserva Natural das Berlengas.

The Islands are located around 10 km (6milles) from the coast of Peniche, where all the ferries to Berlengas Islands depart from.

During the 16th century was built a monastery to rescue shipwrecked sailors but it ended up abandoned because of the pirates. Later, São João Baptista Fort was built with the goal of guard the Portuguese seas. Today, the place is a “shelter-house”, a kind of Bed and Breakfast to welcome the visitors. The Fort is connected to the island with a narrow bridge.  Besides, it’s one of the most iconic buildings on the island.In the Fisherman Quarter, there is a small café, where you can also find an Interpretation Centre and a shelter to support visitors.

There are nice activities to do on the island:

  • A boat tour through the cliffs formations: discover the “Elephant Rock” and let yourself be surprised by the natural grottoes. The tour is short but it’s worth it, seeing the Fort from the ocean is a spectacle.  
  • A visit to the São João Baptista: here, you will be delighted with the color of the water that surrounds the Fort.
  • A hike through the island: I highlight the Berlenga trail that goes from São João Baptista Fort to the Fisherman Quarter. It’s a little demanding because there are so many steps to climb but, once you arrive at the top, the view is outstanding. By the way, there are other buildings to discover, such as the Lighthouse (Farol Duque de Bragança). 
  • Bird watching: be careful with the seagulls. The island is home to thousands of protective seagulls and their little babies.
  • Enjoy a peaceful time on the beach with crystal-clear water, perfect for snorkelling. 

If you want to stay overnight, there is a possibility to camp. 

It's a piece of cake, there are so many reasons to stay strong and defeat the difficulties of the boat trip between Peniche harbour and the islands. Your heart will jump for joy when you arrive. Don’t forget to appreciate the islands at a snail’s pace: very slowly, paying attention to every detail. You will feel pure nature all around and, of course, an unforgettable view. 

How to get there?

Berlengas Islands are open to the public during the high season (May to October) and all of the ferries depart from Peniche Harbour. Due to the high demand, you should book your trip in advance. 

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