Early Summer in the Algarve

At 7AM, the sun might be only lazily hovering above the horizon but the air is already hazy and humid. In Olhao, a cool breeze snakes through grassy marshes and sweeps over the pink salt reserves providing brief, albeit gritty, relief.

But just two hours west in Lagos, there's little escape from the heat. Hot winds pick up speed as they carve out cliff faces and tousle your hair, leaving your throat dry and parched. Wandering the pastel-coloured streets of Tavira, the Algarvian sun reflects off white pavements.

It's late June and high season, yet the gold sand beaches are speckled with only a handful of sun-worshipers. You might not be able to elude the heat this time of year but you can beat the crowds.

Over lunch - and between mouthfuls of vinegar-soaked antipasti - my guide puckered her lips and shook her head: "Oh no, June is early! The crowds will come and it will get hotter too." But sipping slightly sparkling green wine - a local specialty comparable to chardonnay - I didn't want to picture this coastline any different than how it was now.

On Farol island, the few hundred fisherman and locals who call the isle home year-round were splashing around in the shallow waters like children. But come July, the locals' Caribbean-coloured houses will be crammed with holiday-makers; now is the time to experience the Algarve at its most real.

@postcardsfromcate | www.catemisczuk.com

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A Journey Along the Algarve, Portugal