About an hour south of Lisbon, the urban sprawl gives way to a two-lane road hemmed by a forest of towering umbrella pines and gnarly cork trees. Modest, white-washed hamlets and undulating fields of rice preface a boardwalk leading to a seemingly endless white-sand beach. The pristine strand is unencumbered, save for a couple of laid-back beach bars and a handful of fisherman casting hopefully into the rising tide.
You have arrived in Comporta, where the natural bounty and a dreamy, lost-in-time quality is quietly drawing a cache of in-the-know glitterati. Design moguls, fashionistas, business titans, and the occasional royals-in-line are claiming this untarnished turf as their clandestine, off-the-grid, playground. They come to trade their Ferragamos for flip-flops and integrate with virtual anonymity among the local villagers, rice farmers and fishermen.
The elite interlopers bring with them their accustomed lifestyle trappings, but keep the vibe decidedly low-key. Towering sand dunes and nondescript gates hide lavish, design-forward villas. Classic village storefronts disguise exquisitely curated boutiques. Simple seaside shacks conceal chic watering holes. Traditional rural structures, such as grain mills and stables, house sophisticated, but decidedly casual, dining dens.
Comporta stands firmly in the sweet spot: an alluring convergence of natural beauty, authenticity, and hip elegance. Perhaps, it is inevitable that, given all its charms, Comporta will evolve from original to overrun. But for now, Comporta is pure Portuguese perfection.
The Comporta Guide:
Even if you are not among the titled set, you can sample the Comporta experience in style at Sublime Comporta (www.sublimecomporta.pt). The lofty label might raise an eyebrow, but Sublime Comporta lives up to its elevated appellation. From the moment you pass through the gate into the sequestered, 42-acre estate, you begin to feel relaxed. Everything about Sublime Comporta conspires to keep you that way.
Since opening in 2014, the success of Sublime Comporta has fostered a mindful expansion from the original fourteen rooms and suites to thirty-four. More recently, free-standing villas have been added, each with its own private plunge pool. Guest quarters feature white-washed minimalism, with floor to ceiling windows, a wise deference to the dramatic views of the surrounding forest. A full-service spa, inviting pools, and a fire pit-focused conversation nook encourage guests to embrace ‘slow living’, the leisurely mindset characteristic of the region.
Eat and Drink:
The Celeiro Restaurant at Sublime Comporta is a stylish glass box with soaring ceilings and design flourishes reminiscent of a traditional rice storage barn. Head chef David Joao looks to the surrounding land and sea for inspiration, crafting traditional Portuguese specialties with a focus on local sourcing and organic produce.
When you venture off the Sublime Comporta compound, you will find that many of the dining venues have a familial bond. The perennial seaside favorite, Restaurante Sal, which holds court on lovely Pego Beach, has an equally popular food truck sibling, Sal Burger, in the town of Carvalhal. Likewise, the funky community stalwart, Museu do Arroz, has a breezy ocean side outpost, Ilha do Arroz. In similar fashion, Comporta Café, the hipster social hub on the beach, has common roots with the bustling temple to Portuguese home cooking, Dona Bia, in the village of Torre.
Wherever you nosh, you will find the tempo relaxed. Comporta is not in a hurry, and you shouldn’t be either. Lunches are long, lingering affairs, extending from mid-to-late afternoon. Around sunset, the crowd retreats, when mosquitoes – the tiny serpents in Comporta’s Eden – become most active. Evening meals launch late, after nine, and take on a dinner party ambiance, fueled by a cozy camaraderie and the ubiquitous local wine.
For the most part, you will need a car to get around, as the lodging, restaurants and beach access points can often be a ten-minute drive apart. For shorter outings, biking is an option. Guests of Sublime Comporta are provided with complimentary bicycles to pedal about in true local fashion.
Not to be missed is a horseback ride along the rice fields, sand dunes and unblemished beaches of the area with Cavalos Na Areia. Cavalos Na Areia has a steed for every level of experience, and a jaunt on horseback is the best way to get in touch with the dynamic landscapes along the coast.
Cultural immersion in Comporta is not found in a museum, but rather in the tiny town of Carrasqueira, five minutes east of Comporta village. Carrasqueira is a classic fisherman’s port; a timeless tableau of rickety wooden piers, colorful fishing boats and no-nonsense seafarers straight out of Portugal’s past.
The options for retail therapy abound in the village of Comporta, where a bevy of polished emporiums await behind unassuming traditional facades. Be sure to peruse RICE, a textile-rich collection of decorative items and accessories, Vintage Department, a funky assemblage of repurposed items sourced from around the world, and Babouchette, a treasure trove of airy slip dresses, bold bikinis and colorful kaftans which reflects the boho-chic Comporta style.