Next Adventure: Building in Lagoa de Albufeira

When in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we used to have a place to the north of the city, situated next to the beach, where we could go on weekends with the kids to enjoy the ocean. As everyone in the family loved the water, we all enjoyed surfing, waterskiing, paddle boarding and swimming.

Since we’ve moved to Portugal we’ve missed that as the ocean is at least 40 minutes away. For a couple of years we’ve been going to the beach of Lagoa de Albufeira, a saltwater estuary to the south of Lisbon that looks very much like a lake, but it situated right next to the ocean. Because it is shallow and somewhat protected from winds, the water is quite a bit warmer than the ocean. Last year we decided to start looking for a lot on which we could build a small lake house, to give us something like we had back in Mexico. We found one, bought it and then started working with an architect to develop a plan that we thought would work best for us. This past week we submitted our plans for final approval with the municipality and hopefully in a couple of months we’ll have that, and if we can find a contractor, we can start building.

The estuary/lake meets up with a long, wide sandy beach that stretches for 35 km from Caparica at one end to where the beach narrows, steep rocky cliffs protrude until you reach the point of Caba Espichel. Only a narrow strip of beach separates the estuary from the ocean.

Cabo Espichel

Most of the area is not developed, except as you get close to Caparica. Fortunately the government has allowed little development so you can walk for miles on the beach and see no signs of civilization except far in the distance. There are access roads leading down to the beach where there’ll be rustic beach restaurants and surf schools, but that’s about it.

Lighthouse at the end of Cabo Espichel
Nossa Senhora Sanctuary at Cabo Espichel, which once provided housing for pilgrims

Lagoa de Albufeira is situated at the far end of this beach, just as the land begins to climb and the terrain turns from sand to rock cliffs.

Looking from Lagoa de Albufeira towards Cabo Espichel
Lagoa sand cliffs with Caparica, and the end of the beach, in the far distance.

Our property is not alongside the lake as no building is allowed, as is the case for much of the lakes, rivers and oceanfront in Portugal. It is all protected, and the only property that you’ll find there has been there a long time and grandfathered in, but often with stipulations that they can’t modify or increase the size of the structure, just renovate it. But we are only located a block up from the lake and a couple blocks from the ocean. Running alongside the ocean and separating our subdivision from the beach is a protected pine forest park.

The estuary/lake is very popular with kite surfers and wing foilers because the sandbar that separates it from the sea protects the water from winds that usually originate in this direction, providing relatively flat water but still strong winds for the kite. Plus, the water is rather shallow, making it easier for beginners to learn and to walk their kite back if they have problems.

We hope to start building this year and it should take about a year to build.

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