The crystal clear, shallow waters and silky soft golden sand make Praia de São Rafael one of the most popular beaches in the Albufeira area. The beach is just far enough away from the resort town to not be overrun, but close enough to be within easy reach (2 km to be precise).
Set in a pretty bay, flanked by tall ochre coloured limestone cliffs São Rafael is reminiscent of many of the beaches along this stretch of Algarve coast. The beach is home to an array of wonderful rock formations carved by the wind and waves over the millennia. Some of these rocks have evocative names such as "Ninho das Andorinhas" (the Swallow’s Nest) and "Ponte Pequena" (the Small Bridge). There are also a number of caves and grottoes to explore here.
If exploring is really your thing then this is perfect snorkelling territory - as good as it gets on the Algarve. There are also various organised excursions by kayak or stand-up paddle board to explore the neighbouring coves and coast.
At lower tides there is a second little cove you can walk to from São Rafael which offers a little more seclusion than the main beach.
As a Blue Flag beach there are plenty of amenities including toilets and public showers. There is also a lifeguard service on the beach during the summer months.
The beach has good disabled access with boardwalks and paved slopes down to the beach from the main car park above the beach.
São Rafael has a fairly upmarket restaurant right on the beach where you will find take away refreshments and snacks along with a good seafood / fish menu.