The best independent guide to Tavira
The best independent guide to Tavira
Santa Luzia is a delightful fishing village on the eastern Algarve, which is famed for Octopus.
The village’s fishing fleet specialise in Octopus fishing using traditional and sustainable techniques, while the restaurants that line the harbour front have perfected the cooking of this tricky dish.
Santa Luzia lies within the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, and to the south of the village are tidal lagoons and calm waterways that are a haven for wading birds and marine life.
Along the coastline are pristine beaches, which are some of the quietest of the Algarve, and are reached by ferry from Santa Luzia. The beaches include the Praia da Terra Estreita and the Praia do Barril, which is also the setting of the anchor cemetery.
The main attraction of Santa Luzia is the village itself.
This is a traditional fishing village, which is authentically Portuguese and has barely altered by the influences of modern tourism. There is a colourful fishing fleet, which fishes for Octopus during the night and then sells the fresh catch in the small fish market every morning.
For beaches there is the Ilha de Tavira, a sandbar island that offers a 10km shoreline of golden sands, turquoise waters, and beautiful natural scenery.
If you are planning a holiday or day trip to Santa Luzia, you should realise that it is a tiny village, with only a handful of restaurants and a small harbour front.
For a day trip, Santa Luzia could be combined with Praia do Barril and the anchor cemetery, along with an extended lunch in one of the excellent seafood restaurants. Santa Luzia is also situated on the Algarve Cycle Path (the Ecovia do Litoral) and can be easily included as part of a bike ride or short hike from Tavira.
As a holiday destination, Santa Luzia is ideal for tourists looking to experience a unique, traditional Portuguese way of life in a very calm and peaceful setting. Santa Luzia is far removed from the crowds of tourists who visit the central Algarve but is still within walking distance (40minutes) of Tavira, a major resort town.
No visit to Santa Luzia is complete without sampling octopus (Polvo in Portuguese), a delicacy adored by the Portuguese. This dish is challenging to cook, but the village has mastered the fine art and is a speciality of the restaurants that line the harbour.
Insight: Octopus is challenging to cook as it transitions from undercooked (rubbery and chewy) to overcooked (disintegrates and melts always) incredibly quickly.
The fishing fleet of Santa Luzia uses traditional and sustainable methods of fishing for the Octopus which have barely altered in generations. The fishing technique uses clay pots that are lowered onto the seabed, and the unwitting Octopus are tempted to swim in but are unable to escape. During the day these clay pots can be seen drying along the harbour front or piled up on the fishing boats.
The otherwise sleepy harbour comes alive each morning when the octopus catches are brought ashore and sold in the fish market to wholesalers and local restaurants.
To the east of Praia da Terra Estreita is the Praia de Tavira; the most developed section of the island, while to the west is the Barril Beach and the Cemetery of Anchors. Both beaches can be reached on foot from Praia da Terra Estreita and takes around 30 minutes.
Praia da Terra Estreita is always much quieter than Tavira or Barril, but there are only basic facilities available. It is recommended to head to Praia da Terra Estreita in peak season to escape the crowds of beachgoers.
Santa Luzia is only 3km southwest of Tavira and can be reached easily along the Algarve Cycle Path, which is perfect for those wishing to explore at a leisurely pace. This route has been purpose-built, following the quiet R151 road, and is perfectly safe for those of all cycling abilities. Bikes can be hired from either Tavira or Santa Luzia.
The route is also suitable for hikers and takes around 40 minutes to walk. More adventurous hikers can also extend the route, and continue on to Praia do Barril beach (5 hours). From here it is easily possible to walk the length of the beach to Ilha de Tavira and catch the ferry back to Tavira
Santa Luzia lies within the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. This natural park protects the saltwater mudflats, tidal lagoons and sandbar ecosystems along the coastline and is an important habitat for birds and small aquatic life.
The waterways are crucial stopover for birds migrating between Europe and Africa, and has a permanent population of wading birds, such as Spoonbills, Egrets and Ibis.
Origin of Santa Luzia: The village was named ‘Saint Lucy’ following the recovery of a holy relic by a local fisherman, which had been lost out at sea during a storm.
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