The Algarve is the name given to Portugal’s stunningly scenic south coast. It is a place of world class beaches, impeccable golf courses and quaint hillside villages, and with the heavenly year-round temperatures this destination has firmly established itself as one of the best getaways on the planet. There are numerous areas to stay – some quiet and peaceful; others loud and boozy – and Algarve accommodation ranges from gleaming five star hotels to basic beachside campsites.
Apart from bronzing yourself on the idyllic beaches and whacking golf balls down verdant fairways, there is an incredible amount of things to do in the Algarve. Boat trips, walking and cultural excursions always feature heavily on holidaymakers’ itineraries, but these things can sometimes get a bit – whisper this – boring. Waterparks aren’t boring (especially if you’re traving with kids). They’re a bit brilliant really, wouldn’t you agree? I hope so, because I’m about to tell you about some of the best ones the Algarve has to offer.
Zoomarine, located a short drive northwest of Albufeira, is one of the Algarve’s top attractions. Open from March to October, the park wows its guests with a wildlife extravaganza. A favourite is the dolphin show, during which the trainers have the smiley creatures jumping through hoops to please the crowd. There is also a 4D cinema in which you can watch polar bears sliding down glaciers, you can try to resist ducking as monkeys launch apples in your direction and you can try to keep your eyes open as great white sharks baring hideous rows of jagged teeth swim towards you.
Slide and Splash
Slide and Splash, located 25 minutes outside the town of Lagos (which sits on the western fringes of the Algarve) is by far the best waterpark in the whole region. It boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool, every type of slide you can think of and 25,000 square metres of grassy areas. You can chill out with a cocktail and a burger under a shady palm tree or take the plunge down the Kamikaze – an enormous slide that sees you reach tremendous speeds before being spat out into a large pool. There are plenty of kiosks selling ice creams and drinks and also a stylish self-service restaurant for those who are feeling extra peckish. The lifeguards manning each ride and the general safety of the place makes this an ideal day out for families with young children.
Aquashow, situated just outside the town of Quarteira, had to be included in this rundown simply for the Water Roller Coaster, which holds the coveted title of being the biggest in Europe. The kilometre-long ride will see you go in and out of the water, fly round sharp corners and reach speeds of 70 kilometres per hour – all in your trunks and bikinis. Other attractions here include the White Fall (an exhilarating donut ride), the Wild Snake (a fantastic waterslide) and an enormous wave pool.
A day out at a waterpark is a great excursion for adults and children alike. While there is plenty to keep you occupied on a holiday in the Algarve, few things are more fun than spending hours zooming down slides with the sun on your face, or staring in wonder at wild animals trained to do unusual things.