A surprise roadtrip to Praia do Magoito, Portugal.
Sometimes a shoot takes months to plan, sometimes, you’re just in the right place at the right time.
“I know it’s around here somewhere!” my new friend Julia kept saying as we barreled down yet another gravel road, leaving a cloud of dust behind us. “We went there all the time when I was a kid, but I haven’t been in a long time.”
I had no idea where we were going. Julia had said she wanted to surprise me, and honestly, I didn’t mind being a bit lost with all this beautiful scenery zooming by.
I had come to Portugal a few weeks earlier, booked the trip and my first Airbnb stay somewhat on a whim. I had never been there before but I was in between places to stay, Portugal kept coming up everywhere, and everyone had so many good things to say about it that I decided to give it a try.
I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I immediately fell in love with the country and it turned out my Airbnb hostess and I had a lot in common and quickly became really good friends. She showed me around the area and brought me along on different adventures and road trips, and this was one of them.
We had started the day shooting in the beautiful little town of Azenhas do Mar, and were now headed to this surprise location for lunch.
One more U-turn, and all of a sudden Julia looked pleased and nodded to herself: “Ah, I know now, we’re almost there!” A few twists and turns later, the ocean appeared on the horizon and we pulled into a parking lot overlooking the coast.
I got out of the car, walked over to the edge and gasped.
The view was beautiful, but the color of the water was what really took my breath away. It was every shade of turquoise, blue, cyan, and green you can imagine, and it kept changing with every breaking wave.
Julia came up and stood beside me “I don’t remember it looking like this! OK, let’s eat”. I said “What? How can you think about food with this view?! We need to shoot first. What if it changes?” Julia shrugged and got her camera and we both kept shooting until she insisted we HAD to eat. So we went into a cute little restaurant right next to the parking lot that luckily had outdoor seating facing the same view. We placed our orders and I kept taking pictures. I just could not put the camera down. Every time I tried, the water morphed itself into yet another amazing composition that I couldn’t miss.
After lunch, we went down to the beach for a swim and Julia asked the lifeguard why the water looked like it did. According to him, it happens only now and then when the conditions (water temperature, winds, etc.) are just right. “The people, they are scared to go in when it’s like this” he said. But we went in and it was fantastic!
Working on the photos from that day over the past month has brought back just how magical it all was. I feel so fortunate to have experienced it, and really hope to get back there again some day.
Random fact: Apparently the water there has a lot of iodine: Magoito is considered one of the most iodine-rich beaches in Europe.
Visiting Praia do Magoito
Praia do Magoito is located on the Atlantic coast in the Sintra region of Portugal, just north of Azenhas do Mar (which I also highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area). It’s about a 45 minute drive from Lisbon and 35 minutes from Cascais. You CAN get there from Lisbon by public transportation (train to the town of Sintra, which is home to the incredible Pena Palace and definitely worth spending at least a few days in as well, and then a bus from Sintra to the beach), but if you can rent a car or take a private tour, I would recommend doing that instead. You’ll save a lot of time and have the freedom to stop wherever and stay for as long as you want.
All images © 2018 Cattie Coyle. All rights reserved.