To hike through the Fisherman’s Trail in São Torpes is to travel back in time. Prepare to leave behind industrialized Sines and enter a Natural Park that protects this vast coastline with its stunning beaches, pristine dunes and dramatic cliffs that only continue in magnitude the farther south you travel.
Along this trail just south of the Port of Sines, the Grand Route of the Fishermen’s Trail begins. The industrial complex of Sines was first built starting in the early ‘70s, and caused a profound transformation of the landscape and the socio-economic reality of this region. Leaving behind the developed industry of Sines, we enter the vast, open Natural Park of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina. This pedestrian route continues for about 200 km, ending at Burgau where the Fisherman’s Trail then goes on for another 17 km to the city of Lagos.
When walking on the beach at low tide you can see that the sea bottom is mainly rocky. Before the construction of the port of Sines, the sand used to be much more abundant. However, now the port protects the coast from the accumulation of sediments from the north, on the south side of the breakwater. This extensive rocky reef is the perfect substrate for a rich fauna: starfish, sea urchins, anemones, sea sponges, crabs, octopuses, cuttlefish, goose barnacles and a huge diversity of fish. At the base of the food chain, the green, brown and red algae grow in clear water that is full of light.
One of the traditions of this region that can be seen along the trail is the curing of octopus and morays, hung up outside to dry like clothes in the sun. It is an artform to opening the animals up using pieces of cane, exposing them to the sun in order to achieve the perfect drying. These ancestral techniques started from the need to make the most of excess fishing in times of greater abundance to ensure food for the periods of when catch was scarce. Dry octopus is a snack sold at fairs and markets roasted on charcoal stoves, while sea urchins eggs are typically eaten at Easter time.
The moray, abundant in the rocky cavities along this stretch of coast, is a very unique fish. It does not look like a fish at all, but rather a snake, and is dark yellow-sprinkled, like a salamander with no scales! Morays can reachover 15 kg in weight and over 1.5 m in length. Combining this size with a prominent mouth, which secretes a haemolytic poison and is full of large, pointed teeth, it is easy to imagine that not every fisherman would be interested in catching them! The morays spend their days hiding in holes, leaving only ast night to catch fish, crustaceans and cephalopods in their territory. They are very ferocious predators.
Where to start
Next to the beach bar Kalux.
From the market square (Largo do Mercado).
Rules and Recommendations
Depending on the sea conditions, you can follow the beach at the beginning of the route, avoiding the road. You can take the opportunity to go for a swim at S. Torpes, a beach where the water is warmer due to the effluent heated by the thermoelectric power station, known locally as the boiler beach!
Part of the route follows along the road and there are two places where the route has access to the beach.
Make sure the conditions are safe enough to allow you beach access, otherwise, choose to go by road.