My family loved this beach. Parking in Pedras De El-Rai was straight forward along the lagoon front road. The train trip across the salt marsh is worth the money for families with young children in the heat of summer (under-5s go free).
The beach has a gentle gradient, especially at low tides. We had a day with waves which were fun for bodyboarding without being too strong for the novice swimmer. Another day was completely calm and we could have been in a fun pool at home.
We stayed in the section of beach with a lifeguard, but for the more confident swimmer there was miles of sandy shoreline to explore.
Barril Beach Cafe has an excellent multi-lingual menu including Eastern Algarve specialities; children's menu; fresh juices and milkshakes made to your own flavours; numerous inventive vegetarian and vegan dishes; pizzas; burgers; crepes & ice-cream. The ice-cream sundaes were overpriced, but the local deserts were fairly cheap and much better. We visited several times as there was something for everyone in the famiy (including me, the demanding vegetarian) and the service was friendly and quick.
The tuna net anchor memorial to the fisherman who never returned to Barril station is a stark reminder of the cruelty of the sea and a moving place to visit as the shadows lengthen.
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