It’s finally open again!! Well, kind of…
During the most recent confinement related to the pandemic, all the beaches and paredãos (wide pedestrian seawalls, also called esplanades, that run along the waterfront) have been closed to the public. This has been a real bummer because the paredãos are great places to walk, jog, and bike. They are also dotted with cafes, restaurants, and ice cream kiosks as well as benches enticing you to stop, rest, and take in the view. Thankfully, everyone has been doing their part to reduce the spread of infection and, the week before last, the local concelho (council) opened the paredãos and beaches back up, unfortunately the restaurants, cafes and kiosks that line them will be staying shuttered for a few more weeks.
Shortly after moving into our place in Monte Estoril last year, Won and I discovered Praia do Tamariz and it became one or our favorite beaches to hang out at with Sweet Pea (praia is the Portuguese word for beach). We can walk there in about fifteen minutes or drive in about five. Our original plan was to always walk to the beach to increase our exercise time, but we quickly found out that Sweet Pea hates walking on the cobblestone sidewalks – she balks and refuses to go forward or backward – making that effort a real pain, so now we just drive. Sigh…she’s such a little princess. Just so you know, we tried popping her into her backpack a few times, but when the temperatures are warm, it gets too hot for her.
Dogs are generally allowed on beaches in Portugal, but there are a few exceptions. They are not allowed on “concessioned beaches” during the bathing season. A concessioned beach is one that has lifeguards, beach beds, and the like. The bathing season typically runs from Easter or May (depending on the beach) through September. So, it can be a bit tricky to know what the rules are at each location. During the bathing season, we generally look to see if there are a reasonable number of dogs running around, and if so, we join in. If not, we don’t take any chances and just walk her along the paredão.
Praia do Tamariz
This family-friendly beach with lifeguards on duty during the swimming season, is located at the foot of the famous Estoril Casino and Jardins do Estoril (Estoril Park). Estoril Park is where we take Sweet Pea for walks if we don’t go to the beach. The Estoril train station conveniently stops right at the beach. Interestingly, it was once known as Praia Elegante because it was frequented by royalty and high society who spent summers in Estoril.
Tamariz is bound by Praia da Poça on the east and Praia do Moitas on the west. The beach is easy to recognize because of a summer house built there in 1894 by João Martins de Barros, a wealthy citizen from Lisbon. He built the medieval-style castle for his terminally ill daughter. Chalet Barros, also known as Forte da Cruz, sits on the ruins of the Santo António da Assubida fort. The structure continues to defy the fury of the sea that on days of intense turbulence reaches the base of its high walls.
The beach also has a jetty which is a popular spot for strolling, fishing, and diving/jumping into the water. You can see in the two images below how different the experience can be – one image was taken on a calm day, the other when the waves were crashing over the jetty.
One of the most unusual features of the beach is the Atlantic pool. An Atlantic pool is an outdoor swimming area that has been created using the natural configuration of the coastline and enclosed with concrete walls and platforms on the sea side as well as small terraced walls and steps carved out of natural rock to help define its boundaries. The tidal activity of the ocean fills and nearly empties the pool regularly. You can see the pool in the aerial image posted above (it is at the top of the image just on the far side of the jetty).
The beach itself slopes slightly up and ends in a berm to protect the businesses that line the shoreline from waves that can be pretty intense at times. The waves can be extremely calm or feisty enough for some surfing! Mostly, the long stretch of sand affords us the chance to run, play, and rest with Sweet Pea.
The tidal action of the ocean enables us to explore the areas of the beach that become uncovered when the sea recedes. We find muscles exposed in the sun and sea urchins and starfish in the tidepools. Between that and the impact of weather-related changes, it is endlessly fascinating and enjoyable!
I hope you enjoyed this trip to the beach with us. The weather is expected to be sunny and warm tomorrow so we’ll be heading back there.
Until next time, I hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch.
From Portugal with love,