A Thousand Landscapes by the Sea - From Lagoa to Meco
The Lagoa de Albufeira, the deepest of Portugal, is the beginning of a tour along the coast of Sesimbra. In its midst, the calm waters are perfect for kite surfing, paddle or canoeing. At the eastern end, Estacada and Lagoa Pequena, are places of great environmental interest and ideal for birdwatching.
From Lagoa to Meco
The journey begins at the northernmost point of the Sesimbra coast, on the edge of the Fonte da Telha beach, in the municipality of Almada. The coarse sand and rough seas contrast with the calm waters of the Lagoa de Albufeira that can be seen ahead. Considered the deepest of Portugal (reaching 15 meters in depth ), it is divided into three bodies of water: lagoa grande, pequena and estacada, totalling an area of 1.3 square kilometers.
A few minutes after departure, the extensive sandy beach is interrupted by the "mouth" of the Lagoon, an opening which is made every year in spring so that seawater can flood into this great lake and regenerate its fresh water, brought in by the rivers Apostiça, Ferraria and Aiana. Here, the currents are strong and treacherous and should only be crossed with great caution.
It is south of this point that holidaymakers gather, both on the banks of the Lagoa, whose tranquil waters are a delight for children, and by the sea, where the waves are perfect for surfing.
Although we are in one of the most important areas in Europe for birdwatching, what you see in the sky are coloured kite wings, a recent sport that already has a European junior champion from these parts, Rui Pedro Meira. Son of Rui Meira, national windsurf champion, Rui started to follow in his father's footsteps but the adrenaline of flying was stronger. The family runs a school on site, which every year welcomes hundreds of students. Nearby, in the summer, there is a beach library, where many of the holidaymakers catch up on their reading.
We climbed the dune and headed south, towards Meco. As we move away from the lagoon there are less and less bathers and suddenly the beach is deserted. After a few minutes walking at a good pace we start to notice the contours of the Meco Beach. The village after which is it named is half dozen kilometers away, but it was nudism which gave its national and international recognition. About 20 minutes later we come across the first bathers, properly attired. Nudism is currently reserved for the area furthest south, at Rio de Prata, one of the first beaches in the country to receive the Naturist classification.
Along the access to the beach there are some traditional boats. Fishermen talk cheerfully while looking at the sea, waiting for the right moment to throw in the Xávega Art nets, which are later pulled out by tractors. The Blue Flag, in the the centre, attests to the quality of the water, sand and equipment. Below, sun hats placed in three symmetrical rows are already a brand image of the beach. We peer through the swimmers to try to identify one of the many public figures who choose these sands for a well deserved vacation, but with little luck.
Discreetly along the River Prata
Discreetly, we enter the naturist area and easily realize why this location was chosen. It is far from the main access and secluded, and as such conducive to some privacy, although many stories are told of voyeurs coming from elsewhere. The cliffs reaching 20 meters high, hide prehistoric “treasures” like giant shark teeth, which are mainly found after the rains. Noteworthy are the dark gray veins of clay that many guarantee are capable of miraculous cures and which they readily spread throughout their bodies.