Óbidos Lagoon, a paradise by the sea
Óbidos Lagoon is one of the “hearts” of the municipality of Caldas da Rainha. This is considered to be the most extensive lagoon system on the Portuguese coast. With salt water, the lagoon is a sanctuary for several species as well as for sports lovers.
With a total area of 6.9 km2 (approximately) and an average depth of 2 meters, the lagoon extends over two channels, the “Braço do Barrosa” to the east and the “Braço do Bom Sucesso” to the west. For those who like hiking we inform that it has a length of 6 km with a width that can oscillate between 1 and 1.5 km, thus allowing long walks with great views.
The natural beauty makes Lagoa de Óbidos a destination of excellence for all those looking for quality to make their holidays or just a short escape.
What to do
With an extensive area there are several activities that you can develop in the Óbidos Lagoon. Some related to sport, where water sports are Kings, but there are other forms of leisure, such as Birdwatching, hiking, walking, racing or cycling.
Experts say that the best time for bird watching around here is autumn / winter, as some of them are migratory birds.
How to make the visit?
There are several ways in which we can make the observation, one of them is to head towards the locality of Vau (municipality of Óbidos), and then we go down the slope to the southern arm of the lagoon.
Then, on foot, we follow a dirt road on the right that runs along the edge of the lagoon. Here you can see the: Tachybaptus ruficollis, the Great cormorant and the Heron. During the month of September this is a good place to observe the Eurasian whimbrel.
On the west side of the Óbidos Lagoon on the Bom Sucesso side we can observe Larus fuscus, especially the Larus michahellis.
If we go towards the spot called Arelho, the route is done on foot from the airstrip. Here in winter we can observe the Vanellus vanellus and the Heron.
If we are attentive, we can observe some passerines, the Meadow pipit and the streaked fantail warbler, or next to the bushes the observation of small flocks of Common waxbill, European greenfinch and Carduelis carduelis.
If we go to the mouth of river Real, (located at the end of the runway) we arrive at the “home” of many water birds. The observation tower provides a good perspective on the Great cormorant, the mallard and several species of waders, including the Oystercatcher, the Grey plover, the Eurasian whimbre and the Bar-tailed godwit.
Occasionally small flocks of flamingos appear here. In winter, this is a place to observe the Black-necked grebe and here the rare brent goose and the Cygnus olor have already been observed.
If you are still not satisfied, you can go to Poça do Vau, where there is a large reed, which in spring is a place where we can observe the red heron, Western-Marsh-Harrie and the great nightingale.
We also highlight the rare species that have already been seen in the Óbidos Lagoon: Cygnus olor, Branta bernicla, Podiceps auritus, Long-tailed jaeger, Ring-billed gull.
The well-known winds that plague our Silver Coastt region make the Óbidos Lagoon the perfect place for water sports, namely those linked to sailing such as Kitesurfing, Windsurfing, Sailing but also Paddleboard, Canoeing or rowing, among others.
You can always choose to do the activities yourself or seek the help of a professional at the Sailing School of Lagoa de Óbidos, which is open most of the year.
If you prefer other variants you can choose to go for a walk or ride a bike as there is a bike path that runs through much of the Óbidos Lagoon.
Where and what to Eat
Among fresh fish such as sea bass, sole, plaice, brill, golden bream, mullet, eels and seafood such as clams, cockles, mussels, shrimp, and green crabs, among others. many chances that you can choose and thus have a meal full of flavors.
To eat you can always look for the center of the village where there are some restaurants or if you prefer a view of the Óbidos Lagoon or the sea, Avenida do Mar has the necessary supply to fill your hole in your stomach.
Where to Sleep
Foz do Arelho and Nadadouro, places where the Óbidos Lagoon is located, have more and more of a wide offer in terms of hospitality.
There are already some hotel units, such as Guest Houses, Hostels and others that appear on the AirBnB platform.
We also have a campsite that is outside the center of the village of Foz do Arelho (exit towards Caldas da Rainha) and a park to support caravans near the Óbidos Lagoon.
Economy and Traditions associated with the Óbidos Lagoon
Regarding the economy, we can write that fishing and mollusc harvesting are the main activities developed in the Óbidos Lagoon.
It is a tradition to harvest bivalve molluscs, with shellfish communities in this area. It is also normal at times to see people catching bivalves, real snacks for a fantastic end of afternoon.
Bateiras, the rolling boats of the lagoon
Bateira is the typical boat used by both fishermen and shellfish gatherers in the Óbidos Lagoon.
These boats are characterized by being open deck vessels as you can see from the photos taken by our collaborator Lina Cruz AKA @Photocracy.
In the past, Bateiras were widely used for collecting slime and nowadays it is normal to see these boats equipped with engines.
Other places to visit near Óbidos Lagoon
Óbidos Lagoon is a unique place, it would not be fair to end the article without mentioning other places nearby that deserve our greatest attention.
We are therefore talking about the Passadiços of Foz do Arelho, a wooden structure designed by landscape architect Nádia Schilling.
This path based on the cliffs over the Atlantic Ocean is a real dazzle and provides great late afternoon.
For those who like to walk this is probably one of the best options in Caldas da Rainha to do so.
In addition to the Walkways, we also recommend the Foz do Arelho beach, which is great for sunbathing, as well as sports such as surfing or body boarding.