Get ready. This is an unforgettable hike! The fifth stage of the fishermen’s trail is probably the most beautiful of the 13 that make up the fishermen’s route. Through cliffs and dunes covered with vegetation, it takes us to several incredible beaches, passing the natural fishing port of Azenha do Mar and the majestic point in Branca, one of the most impressive sights in the entire region. For those who can only do one day on the Rota Vicentina, this is the step we suggest.
With 18.5 km, stage 5 of the fishermen’s trail takes us from Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe, over 7 to 8 hours. It’s a pretty tough route with several steep descents and climbs, as you can see on the altimetry graph. Some of these descents are slightly technical, but you don’t need to worry as it’s not too complicated. There are also a few km of sand, but unlike stages 2 and 3, the sections are never very long.
In this article, we will focus on this step, and in addition to describing the entire route and showing up close the main highlights of this walk, we will also explain all the logistics, what to take, how to go, when to go, where to eat, etc.
If you plan to hike for several days, we suggest that you also read our general article on the fishermen’s trail. This Great Route connects São Torpes to Lagos, over 13 stages in a total of about 230km, practically always by the sea. Click here for more information on the fishermen’s trail.
Fishermen’s trail – Zambujeira to Odeceixe – General Information
- Name: Stage 5 of the Fishermen’s trail
- Start: Zambujeira do Mar
- End: Odeceixe
- Distance: 18.5 km
- Time required: 7 hours
- Difficulty: moderate
- Max/min altitude: 80-0 meters
- Altitude gain: 300 meters
- Tipo: Linear
- Marking (1-5) – 5, excellent
- Highlights: Zambujeira do Mar, Praia do Carvalhal, Praia da Amália, Azenha do Mar, Ponta em Branco, Praia de Odeceixe
Our experience on the trail
This trail starts in Zambujeira do Mar, but we advise you to visit Zambujeira the day before, as it will be a very long walk and with lots of points of interest. So, we also give you a few tips about Zambujeira, including where to eat and where to stay.
In total, you have 18.5 km ahead, which we covered in about 7:30, of which only 5:30 was walking, and the remainder was used to stop to rest, eat, and take pictures, lots of pictures. This is a day of ups and downs (short but steep), with some technical areas and fantastic views.
The trail starts in Zambujeira do Mar, and the first thing to do is go down to the beach level, cross the small stream that flows into it, and climb up again. It is the first of many descents and ascents on the seaside cliffs. Continue on the route, and a few minutes later, we are right on the first big beach of this stage (second if we count the beach of Zambujeira do Mar), Alteirinhos beach.
Then we proceed along the sea line for about 3km. Along the way, you can see the impressive black rocks bent by the infinite force of the earth. These rocks were originally flat and horizontal, with some vertical and others folded as if they were paper.
We eventually reach a new beach, Carvalhal beach, and as usual, we have to descend to beach level to cross to the other side. Carvalhal Beach has an impressive strand of sand, and huge cliffs protect it on both sides. This would be the highlight of many other trails, but what we have ahead of us is stunning.
When you climb the south side cliff of the beach, you will come across a point of interest that is, to say the least, surprising. That’s what we usually call “the safari”. “The safari” is a farm with animals that aren’t really from Alentejo… when we passed there, we saw zebras, ostriches, buffaloes, and deer. It’s a little weird because we’re in the middle of a natural park, but it turns out to be a curious landmark. Don’t worry; you don’t have to leave the trail to see it; in fact, you’ll have to walk along the fence for a few hundred meters.
After the “safari,” the trail becomes even more beautiful, with the path going through woodlands by the sea, passing on some cliffs, crossing watercourses, and a few very narrow areas. As if the natural beauty of the Alentejo coast wasn’t enough, we also have a sense of adventure, exploring undeveloped areas. Be careful not to trip over the wrong places.
These are 4 km very scenic that will pass quickly. After this part, we arrive at Herdade Amália. First, we have to completely bypass the property, pass in front of the entrance, and only then descend towards the beach.
Herdade Amália belongs to the Amália Rodrigues Foundation and was one of the Portuguese diva’s favorite destinations. It is currently possible to rent it as it works as a Local Accommodation. Obviously, it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely a unique place. If you are curious or want to book, see photos, prices, and more information here!
Herdade Amália has direct access to the beach, but the trail also takes us there. In this part of the trail, the forest thickens, the vegetation becomes lush. This is one of the most curious points of the trail as the access to the beach is made through the tunnel formed by vegetation where one needs to kneel to cross it. But the surprises don’t end here; the beach is not only stunning, with fine sand and crystal clear water, but also has a beautiful waterfall, where the water flows from the top of the cliff directly to the sand. Without a doubt, it’s a unique place, a wonderful secret (no longer well kept), hidden on the coast of southeastern Alentejo.
After Amália beach, the trail continues along the cliffs by the sea, but the terrain becomes increasingly sandy, making the walk a little harder. Fortunately, the sand is not too loose. On the other hand, we continue with the constant steep ascents and descents.
It takes another 3 km to reach Azenhas do Mar. This entire area between Carvalhal beach and Azenhas do Mar is possibly the most scenic of the entire fishermen’s trail. A very questionable statement, we know, but here the natural beauty is breathtaking.
Once you reach Azenha do Mar, the miles start to take their toll, and that’s why it’s the ideal time to rest. We strongly advise you to try to get here around noon, as the restaurant A Azenha do Mar is the place to go if you are looking for a nice and refreshing lunch. The monkfish and shrimp rice is divine…
After lunching and now rested, we have to get back to work as we still have a few kilometers to go. There is a highlight to visit too. Unfortunately, the next 2 km are also very hard, as it’s mostly sand walking, which is quite loose at times. At the end of these 2 km, we reach Ponta em Branco. A white rock in the middle of dunes and red, orange, and yellow rocks.
Ponta em Branco is also a viewpoint for Odeceixe beach and the mouth of the Ribeira de Seixe. From here, we have one of the most iconic views of the Natural Park of Southeast Alentejo and Costa Vicentina. This is the last big attraction on the trail, and it was worth the walk only to observe it.
Now the bad news… After Ponta em Branco, the trail has very few points of interest; we just have to follow the signs until we go down the hill towards the stream and then walk along from the road to Odeceixe village. After everything we saw in one day, these last 5 kilometers are underwhelming. Tip: If you don’t want to do this part on foot, you can call a taxi to take you to the village. You won’t miss much.
How to go to Odeceixe beach?
Odeceixe beach is on the south bank of Ribeira de Seixe, and the trail runs along the north bank. To go to the beach, we supposedly have to go all the way to Odeceixe to cross the river and then return the other bank to the beach. Since you already have long km on your legs, it’s not very appealing. As mentioned, you can always order a taxi to the beach and then walk back to the village.
There may be another option, though. If the tide is low and the stream is shallow, it is possible to cross the stream on foot directly to the beach. We didn’t do this as we didn’t want to risk getting our backpacks wet, but we saw people doing it when we were at Ponta em Branco. We were also told to pay close attention as sometimes the tidal currents are powerful. Assess your own risk if you are considering doing this.
About Zambujeira do Mar
The legendary Zambujeira do Mar is one of the best-known coastal towns in Alentejo and even in Portugal. It is a place where the natural beaches and cliffs unite with the human constructions with an unusual harmony. Therefore, it is a great destination in itself and an excellent final destination for this trail.
If you are doing several stages of the fishermen’s trail, it is also a good place to take a day of rest and enjoy the beautiful landscapes and beaches in the surroundings. As it is a resort town, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and accommodation options.
Several mini markets and cafes open very early, so you’ll have no problem eating breakfast early and buying groceries for the following days.
Where to stay in Zambujeira do Mar
As you would expect, Zambujeira has plenty of accommodation options, especially hostels and local accommodation. For those making the fishermen’s trail, the ideal is to stay right in the center so that you don’t have to add even more paths to the trail.
We stayed at Nature Hostel and it’s a good option because it’s very comfortable, gives us access to the kitchen and fridge and it’s right in the center of Zambujeira, close to the beach and the trail. See more information by clicking here.
Where to eat in Zambujeira do Mar
There is no shortage of places to eat in this small village, from cafes and snack bars to restaurants. If you want a meal with more substance, the place to go is without a doubt restaurant Costa Alentejana, as it is the best and best-known restaurant in the village. On the other hand, if you want to have a drink, eat something light, and see a wonderful sunset, Rita Restaurant, facing the sea, has breathtaking views.
Odeceixe is a small and beautiful village on the border between the Algarve and Alentejo. Located on the south bank of the Ribeira de Seixe and spread across the slope above. One of the main points of interest is its mill, which still works.
It is still 4km from the beach (Odeceixe beach), so it is not ideal for those looking for a beach. Zambujeira and Milfontes will be better, for example. However, Odeceixe beach is one of the most beautiful in the region, as mentioned above.
Where to stay in Odeceixe?
Odeceixe has some local accommodations and hostels, so it won’t be difficult to find a place to stay. During our stay in Odeceixe, we stayed at the “Residence do Parque,” which is right in the village center, and therefore close to everything. Ideally, this step is quite tiring. It is an accommodation without great luxuries, but comfortable enough, and where you do self-check-in, and you end up not having contact with the hosts. More info here.
Where to eat in Odeceixe?
Odeceixe has some cafes, snack bars, mini markets where you can buy food and drinks easily. There are also several restaurants, some of which have excellent terraces for sitting and relaxing. One of the best restaurants in Odeceixe is Taberna do Gabão. The food is really excellent, and at attractive prices.
Best time of year to take the fishermen’s trail
The best time to walk the fishermen’s trail is during spring, namely in April/May. Alternatively, it will also be excellent at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, when the sea has more pleasant temperatures. This stage has many inviting beaches.
However, between spring and autumn, we prefer spring mainly because the vegetation is prettiest, with wildflowers everywhere. In both periods, the days will be long and with more pleasant temperatures for long walks.
In summer, we have a heat problem, and it really is a problem. Note that most of the walk is done in the sun, with no shadows along the way or many chances of escaping the sun as the vegetation is mostly undergrowth. On the other hand, we have the advantage that the seawater is also warmer.
During winter, cold, rain, and wind can make the trail very rough and less pleasant. However, we never did at this point.
Who can take the trail?
This is a trail for people with stamina, used to trekking, and without any mobility problems. Age should not be a factor, but the physical ability is. We advise against doing it with children, as it could be a little bit, but teenagers and maybe pre-teens used to exercise can do this stage.
Note that sometimes the route is done along cliffs and canyons, so people afraid of heights or vertigo may have problems in certain parts.
What to bring?
This trail is one of the steps of the larger stage fishermen’s trail. It is important to differentiate whether you are going to do just this stage or several days. The general rule of thumb is never to hike with more than 10% of our weight, but if you’re taking a multi-day journey, we need to pay special attention to what to take as the less weight, the better.
If you decide to take several days, we advise you to see this article about the fishermen’s trail. If you are going to do just this stage between Porto Covo and Vila Nova de Milfontes, we suggest you take:
- Lots of water (minimum 2l per person) – always carry water for the whole day as you never know if something might happen.
- Snacks to eat during the day. There are 2 good opportunities to have a snack and lunch at this stage, but always take something to eat.
- Comfortable walking shoes – Use walking or running shoes during the trail. We wear running shoes, but some people suggest walking shoes. Sneakers have the disadvantage of needing to remove the sand regularly, but the advantage of being much cooler; In any case, don’t wear flip-flops for the trail, it’s a long time, and it will become uncomfortable.
- light and comfortable clothing;
- Don’t forget to bring at least one warmer shirt or hoodie because, in the morning, it can be much colder than you expect, especially outside of summer.
- Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen, for obvious reasons
- Camera and mobile phone as there are many opportunities to take beautiful photos. The mobile phone also to be used as GPS.
- Backpack to carry all this;
As always, please don’t trash. Bring everything you take with you.
For those who will be traveling for several days, it is important to note that transfer companies take your bags to your destination. So if you want to carry even less weight, this might be a good idea. See here.