An enchanted beach

Nossa Senhora da Rocha (Our Lady of the Rock) is an ancient settlement (probably dating back to the Romans) whose main livelihood had always been fishing.

A legend tells that the Virgin Mary often appeared on the top of a cliff hanging over the sea near Porches, Lagoa, helping and relieving all sailors in distress. A chapel was erected in her honour and later it was framed by a fortress to defend the sacred ground from the attacks of Moorish corsairs. Sheltered by rocky headlands, defended by the fortress and inspired by the chapel, the beach of Nossa Senhora da Rocha has sheltered an important fishing community since ancient times. Nowadays, tourism overtook fishing and it represents the current major economic income of this population. However, fisheries and fish give it a distinctive aftertaste.

According to Dorilo Seruca’s research in 2000, there were about 18 boats and 26 seafarers; these figures contrast with the current 5 active boats and 8 fishermen, plus 3 tourism boats. The boats are beached from the strand using a winch; the fish is sold in Portimão (18 km away).

Fishing is mainly based on octopus pots. However, drifting long lines using live bait (mostly crab) successfully catch highly desired species such as sea bass, gilt-head bream, croakers and sea breams. The famous penacho (pink dentex) is caught by line at dawn, using hooks baited with live squid. This cephalopod is not just appreciated by the pink dentex: the squid fishery makes part of this community’s customs, mainly using the toneira.

The fishing community of Senhora da Rocha is united by the recent fishermen’s association. They are pleased to have a ramp, storage room for gear and cold storage facilities. However, they long for a transport to take their catch to Portimão, or right next door, to Armação de Pera — if the wholesale fish market would reopen for business.


In gastronomy, preferences go to grilled fish, conger eel and octopus rice, octopus salad, dried octopus and fried moray eel.


Religious celebrations are an ancient custom. Nossa Senhora da Rocha procession takes place every year on the first Sunday of August. Also in this month, the Octopus Festival thrills both locals and outsiders.


Fortress, Chapel, Algarve style chimneys of Porches, limestone cliffs, caves, arches and stacks, Praia da Senhora da Rocha, tunnel that connects to Praia Nova, Praia da Cova Redonda, Praia do Barranco, Praia das Fontainhas, Praia da Albandeira, water sports.

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