Eyes of the Real Algarve
Every month we give you the chance to experience the Algarve for yourself, with our blog from Ruth, the Eyes of the Real Algarve.
What a fabulous place to live! The frantic height of the summer season has passed and slowly we’ve eased back into a more settled life, where the dogs amble up and down chasing birds and fish along the sea front. The mornings are getting slightly darker and the evenings just a little cooler but the sunsets is still hard to beat anywhere else in the world!
A week or so ago I visited the Islands just off the coast from Olhao and Faro, a super little fishing town with a long promenade which hosts a bustling market every Saturday. You can buy everything here from clothes, shoes, scarves, tablecloths and pottery, as well as spices and delicious home grown olives. There’s also fresh fruit and vegetables, the famous Portuguese piri piri sauce and of course the fish which has come straight off the Culatra fishing boats.
Having booked our boat with a local fisherman friend of mine, we set off in search of the Oyster and Clam beds. We set off just after low tide at 0930, hit the Ria and made our way to the oyster and clam beds. In Portugal oysters and clams are a huge source of income and some locals buy a piece of land, equivalent to the size of an allotment where they can have a second income harvesting clams and oysters. The oysters are turned several times throughout the day, to ensure they all get the best sunlight. This is usually for 6 hours a day, as once the tide comes back in they are underwater again!
The next part of our journey took us to the Ilha da Culatra – a large sandbar island which is divided into three parts Farol, Hangares and Culatra with Ilha da Armona to the right.
The island is part of the Ria Formosa national park and the only way to reach it is by boat. Here you can explore the natural scenery, abundant wildlife and large lagoons.
It is a working island village with a school and church and where most of the fishing boats are based as they catch unico, pulpo, ostras, ameijoas, carapau, sardinhas (sole, octopus, oysters, clams, horse mackerel, sardines). Most of the delicious mussels caught are used as bait for catching octopus -what a shame as they are delicious and cheap too!
Lunch on Culatra is a must and for 5 euros you can have a plate of 6 oysters or a delicious cataplana (sea food casserole) to share between 2 for 22 euros, accompanied by a good bottle of local wine.
After a delicious lunch, we took another boat ride down the coast line to a delightful and amazing beach. Here we found a treasure trove of amazing shells and eggs from sea creatures like cuttlefish and stingrays that had recently washed up on the shore.
This beach is the perfect place for the children to run around scooping up shells and chasing sea gulls or simply to go snorkelling for treasures.
Lunch (oysters) at a local restaurant, these restaurants are open on the island all year round.