Beachgoers warned to “stay away from cliffs” after rockfalls at Algarve beaches

The safety of the Algarve’s beachside cliffs is being questioned again as two rockfalls were registered in the past two weeks – the first at Lagos’ popular Dona Ana on June 24 and the second at Vale Olival in Lagoa on June 30.

Nobody was hurt in either despite the beaches being crowded at the time.

The rockfall at Dona Ana is more notable in the sense that the beach – once considered “the most beautiful in the world” by Condé Nast Traveller – underwent a controversial €1.8 million sand replenishment project designed to increase the beach’s length and thus keep people away from the cliffs.

“The project has probably just saved lives,” said Sebastião Teixeira, president of the regional environment entity (APA).

He told Público newspaper that “350 people were at the beach” at the time of the rockfall, approximately at 4pm.

The rock (around five cubic metres in size) fell from a height of 10 metres on the east side of the beach.

A similar sized rock fell last Thursday at the also busy Vale Olival beach, but again no one was hurt.

Teixeira says that these cliff collapses are normal which is why people “have to be careful”.

According to APA, around 23% of beachgoers at Dona Ana still ‘set up camp’ in risky areas near the cliffs despite signposts warning against doing so.

Teixeira says, however, that the number of people who did so before last year’s intervention was around two times higher.

The environmental boss added that APA is monitoring seven beaches that underwent improvement work last year – Dona Ana included – and is planning three other similar projects at a cost of €3 million at the Mareta (Sagres), Alvor (Portimão) and Belharucas (Albufeira) beaches.

The precarious state of the Algarve’s cliffs has been a central safety issue ever since five people – including a family of four – were killed at the María Luísa beach in Albufeira in 2009.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]