As mainland Europe’s most western country and flanked on two sides by the Atlantic, Portugal has a strong sea faring tradition. It was the Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama who were responsible for discovering a number of new world destinations and it was to Cascais that many of them returned after their voyages.
Cascais itself is located right on the Central Western coast of Portugal, just thirty kilometres from the capital city, Lisbon. Many of the royals who made their summer homes in Cascais through history had a keen interest in the sea and the town’s focus on its marine location has not abated. Fishermen have lived in Cascais and fished the local waters as well as those deeper into the North Atlantic for centuries and much of the delicious fresh fish served in the local restaurants is freshly caught and sold daily in the town’s fish market.
The construction of the new Cascais Marina in 1999 brought about a resurgence in interest in sailing for leisure and sport, as well as for fishing, transforming the town from a cosmopolitan summer resort to a world-leading sailing and marine destination. Cascais Marina has mooring for 650 boats of up to 36 metres along with an outer quay for megayachts – plenty of space for the rich and famous to moor up in their gin palaces.
The marina has played host to major sailing events including the America’s Cup World Series but is also fully accessible by general visitors to Cascais keen to discover the delights of the seas that surround this pretty and sophisticated town.
Fish the aquamarine waters in the company of dolphins
There are a number of Cascais boat trips available to tourists, from shore-hugging sightseeing trips to deep-sea fishing extravaganzas some 25 miles off shore. Deep-sea fishing trips from Cascais are suitable for beginnings and those who are experienced and fish regularly. There are plenty of boats for hire with qualified skippers and guides who know the area and have years of experience of running successful sea-faring tours in the local waters.
A deep-sea fishing tour is a highly rewarding trip, offering the opportunity to catch a range of fish and crustaceans such as octopus, eel, sea bream and even shark as well as marvelling at the pods of dolphins that are often known to happily swim alongside the sail boats, twisting, turning and tumbling in the waters as they go.
Expect to pay around 250 euros for a full day deep-sea Cascais boat trip with fishing gear hire, relevant licenses and bait included, which may sound pricey but it is well worth it. You can expect your guide/skipper to be knowledgeable and good company, keen to share their experience, knowledge and expertise with you throughout the day.
A barbeque or picnic lunch can be organised on board, along with wine, beer and soft drinks as required. It is possible to barbeque the morning’s catch at lunch time or the day’s catch at the end of your trip by prior arrangement. Some boats offer electrical fishing equipment, perfect for helping to “fish out” the big fish, though it should be noted that a “catch it and release” policy operates for the largest fish, particularly sharks in case you are fortunate enough to catch one.
Admire the picturesque Portuguese coastline from afar
If deep-sea fishing sounds a little adventurous or is simply not your thing, try a day trip on board a cruiser making its way eastwards up the coast to Lisbon, cruising its way around the coastline and the Tagus estuary. The coastline looks delightfully different from the sea and viewing Lisbon from the alternative perspective of the water rather than from dry land is a delight.
These Cascais boat trips are more laid back and concerned with relaxed enjoyment rather than sport fishing and tend to come accompanied by plenty of snacks, good food and refreshing drink – alcoholic or otherwise. Bugio Island, just offshore, is a popular stopping point for a swim in the refreshing waters and if you time your trip well, it is possible to watch the sunset from your boat whilst sipping an ice-cold caipirinha right in the shadow of some of Lisbon’s most famous city sights.