In the central Portuguese coast, just 6 miles west of Peniche, it is located the Berlengas archipelago, a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. It consists of 7 small islands, although only the largest one, Berlenga Grande, is available for visits.
Most of the tours (available from many companies) depart from Peniche, and operate mainly during the summer. Because of the island small size (0.9 miles long x 0.5 miles wide), visitors at any time are limited. I decided to get a fast boat (Pássaro do Sol, 22€ and 20 minutes), being offered three slots: 10.00-14.30, 11.30-16.00 or 16.00-18.30, choosing the one departing at 10.00, that was also the longest visit. I also included, for 6€ extra, a 20 minutes tour of the caves, in a glass bottomed boat. Being on the top of high season, and booking a couple of days in advance, many companies had already sold out their tours.
A short and bumpy trip, despite the good sea conditions, get us to the harbour, near to the small beach and the fishermen neighbourhood, a tiny settlement that offers a restaurant, a small coffee shop and a set of simple houses. We only have time for a short walk before visiting the caves.
The tour in the glass bottomed boat, although short, is really worthy. We get to see the island rugged seashore, with caves offering shaped outlines (the Elephant for example), and the clean seafloor, where we have the chance of watching some fishes (although we don´t see any dolphin). We disembark in the St John the Baptist (São João Baptista) fort that stands since the XVIth century on the grounds of an even older monastery that was abandoned because of the frequent pirate attacks.
The fort is only accessible by boat or crossing a narrow bridge after a steep set of stairs. It allocates a hostel offering overnight accommodation, the only facility doing so in the island besides the small camping in the harbour area. From the fort we follow the walking trail around the island, unique one where visitors can walk, to avoid alterations of the flora and numerous nesting birds.
The walking trail is an easy hike, besides some steep stairs. Travelling around the whole island, doesn´t take long. We arrive to the lighthouse (closed to visitors), and going behind the fishermen village, where it is quieter and tourists are scarce, there is a chance to have a close look on the nesting birds.
A nice summer half-day tour, especially if the weather conditions are good.