South of Lisbon, Costa da Caparica is completely open to ocean and to the storms. It’s wild, unspoiled and beautiful. Today it’s pretty rough too with the Leslie having hit the shores last night (see the live webcam of the beach here on MEO).
In Costa da Caparica the waves of the Atlantic reach a wide and completely open 30-km long beach. They break directly and whatever storm would be there outside, in the middle of the ocean, the waves reach the shore breaking loud lots of water that spills on the beach then gets out just as furious as it had got in. Locals and surf schools say that when the waves break before the lighthouse, then it’s really big.
I left Costa da Caparica in June last year, when this pic was taken (there had been a strong storm in the Açores, and some 2 days later 3 metres height waves reached Caparica at Praia do São João but without any rain as it usually happpens – only with wind ad deep blue clear sky) and I miss the times when everybody goes out to see the stormy waves. But not only that.
The ocean changes constantly. Sometimes when in Caparica it’s nice to stay out at the end of the pier and just watch. Sometimes when it’s low tide the water goes so much out that the beach doubles its width with a parallel stripe of wet sand.
It’s not very uncommon for thick fog to cover the entire beach and stay like this for an entire morning.
And then, it’s Caparica at its best, with nice and small waves, plenty of sun and mild wind.
The easiest way is to get to the beach is to take the bus and cross the bridge – in 30 minutes from Praça de Espanha in Lisbon you’re there – but the road doesn’t say much except for the nice Ponte de 25 de Abril. My favourite way to get to Costa da Caparica, from Lisbon, is by the ferry from Belém, option which I warmly recommend, it’s nice to see Lisbon from the river.
The ferry from Belém crosses the river and stops at Trafaria. It takes 25 minutes and then from Trafaria there’s another 15-minute walk to Sao João da Caparica and then the centre of the town is close. Caparica is a modern urbanisation so there’s not much to see. The centre is great for a sandwich at Arroy or lunch at Xexexe.
The beach of Caparica is spectacularly large. Between the sand dunes there are several beach bars where it’s nice to pass time sharing a petisco or two (Portuguese tapas) or having a coffee, especially at Marcelino on the pier, or Leblon and Lorosae with the sand dunes all around. I think it’s a great place to have that ‘just me and the ocean’ feeling whilst people are in the water, taking a walk or simply watching and taking a bit of time to forget everything about the rest of world, the agenda, the routine, the city, the rooms, the cars…
The main road further leaves the town of Caparica and goes south to more wild beaches and remote beach bars and surf schools, passing Fonta da Telha and Lagoa da Albufeira on the way down to reach Sesimbra and Setúbal. The landscape changes from the open beach to a lagoon and then to high cliffs with small coves protected from the big swells.
In one and a half years while I was in Lisbon I made the trip to Setúbal only once but I liked it. I’d say Fonte da Telha remains my favourite place but it’s only reachable by car. And Caparica was where I’d come at least once a week. I liked it so much than I even stayed there some 5 days in a row, at Gota d’Agua, and so far I think it’s still my favourite beach of this part of the Atlantic shore. I’ve crossed Portugal from north to south and was quite impressed with Leça de Palmeira, Figueira da Foz, Ericeira, Praia Grande da Sintra, Arrifana, Sagres or Lagos but still Caparica is THE place for me.