Lagoas de Santo André e da Sancha Nature Reserve (3.135 ha) includes two coastal ponds, small ponds in dune depressions, the "poços" ("wells"), and an adjacent marine section, area with sandy substrate which is abundant in annelids and bivalves, which serve as food to several marine fish species.
Of the ichthyological fauna (fishes) of the Santo André lagoon we highlight the Eel and the Roach, a rare species in Portugal. Birds are the most important fauna group since the Natural Reserve is located on an important migratory corridor and contains a diversity of resting places as well as abundant food resources. The list of observed bird species exceeds 270 and it is common to find groups of several thousands of aquatic birds.
The vegetation includes reedbeds, rushes and willow woods to which we add maritime pine plantations and Atlantic shrub land including some Portuguese endemic species such as Linaria ficalhoana e Armeria rouyana. The diversity of the vegetable mosaic, varied topography, the presence of water plains, the proximity to the sea and the luminosity itself give a clear landscape interest to the set.
Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, I.P. (ICNF, I.P.)
Santiago do Cacém
Identification and Access
Access to Monte do Paio coming from:
- Santiago do Cacém, head through the N261, in the Melides direction, until the Cascalheira intersection, turn left to the EM544 heading to - Lagoa de Santo André/Beach. About 2.8 km after the Cascalheira intersection there is a path on the left with a "Natural Reserve" sign, a dirt road of about 600 m giving access to Monte de Paio Interpretation Centre.
- Sines, follow the IP8/A26, and on the 2nd roundabout exit direction Vila Nova de Santo André/Melides, through N265-1 and after Vila Nova de Santo André, head to Brescos until the intersection with the road of Santo André lagoon, where you should turn left. About 1.1 km after the intersection there is a path to the left with a sign for 'Reserva Natural', the way is a dirt road of about 600 m giving access to Monte de Paio Interpretation Centre.
GPS: 38.083749, -8.785286
Take the Casa do Peixe trail and admire the serenity of the Santo Andre lagoon. At the end of the day, enjoy the sunset and the numerous birds that rest there. We recommend that you start your visit in the Monte do Paio Interpretation Centre (closed on weekends), where you can find all the available information about the area.
To observe the fauna leave early in the morning or a bit before dusk. Bring binoculars and a camera, if you have them. For birdwatching we recommend you visit the Reserve during late Summer, since it is during the months of November and December when you can see the largest number of birds in the lagoons. If you wish to accompany the bird ringing sessions and get to know the oldest migration season ringing station in the country, located on Monte do Outeirão, contact us. If you wish to be present during the annual opening of the Santo André lagoon to the sea, which occurs during Spring, keep yourself informed regarding the exact day on which it occurs. It is a traditional event, highly sought by visitors and watched, mainly, by the inhabitants of the Santo André Coast and its vicinity.
Always pay attention to the weather forecast and avoid performing activities in days of rain, thunderstorm or fog. Avoid going out by yourself, but, if you do, inform an acquaintance or a local entity of your departure and return. Use simple and comfortable clothes. Make outerwear, food, water, sunscreen and/or a raincoat available. You may also want to take a cellphone and flashlight (do not start a fire and don't dispose of cigarette butts incorrectly). Take precautions and use insect repellent. If you want to enjoy the beaches do not forget your bathing suit. Take special precautions when walking in moist areas, to avoid falling, and do not act in a way that might endanger yourself or others. In case of an accident contact the emergency service 112.
Supports in place
The Reserve has directional and informative signs.
Statutes of Conservation
PTCON0034 Comporta / Galé
PTZPE0013 Lagoa de Santo André (St André Lagoon)
PTZPE0014 Lagoa da Sancha (Sancha Lagoon)
RAMSAR Site - Lagoa de Santo André/ Lagoa da Sancha - List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Sines Woods Area
Among other reasons to visit Sines, we propose a tour of the historic city center. Having as staging points the monuments linked to the life of Vasco da Gama in Sines, set out to explore the old town and visit the Castle, the Museum, the statue and the house of Vasco da Gama and also the Matriz Church and our Lady of Salas. We also highlight the 30 km of coastline with excellent beaches and the local cuisine based on fish and seafood. Dishes such as seafood and bread dish, beans with shells molluscs are the result of an irresistible combination of flavors between the coast and the plain. (Learn more).
The coast of 'Santiago do Cacém' is set in a vast coastline that between Troia and the cable Sines, takes the form of uninterrupted beach. In addition to the beach use, the coast along the Nature Reserve is sought by the harmony and beauty of the dunes surrounding landscape. The gastronomic wealth is another major area attractions. The county, which the mountains extends across the plain to the sea, presents a gastronomic diversity where rich flavors survive in history and tradition, demonstrating the traditional 'ensopados' and eels stews ('caldeirada de enguias'), and the typical sweet of the region, alcomonias sprocket . Other places of interest in the region, area the Roman ruins of Miróbriga, the Badoca Safari Park, the Castle, the Municipal Museum of Santiago do Cacém and the Museum of Rural Work of Abela. Learn more.
Near Santiago do Cacém you can visit the ruins of the Roman city of Miróbriga, that has an Interpretation Center. Learn more.
What you can do
1. Observe the flowering vegetation while walking on one of the Reserve footpaths.
2. Watch the artificial opening of Santo André Lagoon to the sea.
3. In the late afternoon, stroll around Monte do Paio and watch a fantastic sunset.
1. Prefer the beaches with support infrastructures and surveillance.
2. Participate in the traditional Feast Banhos de São Romão (São Romão Baths), in Santo André coast.
3. Have fun at the Músicas do Mundo (World Musics) Festival (MMF) and indulge yourself with the gastronomic delicacies of Tasquinhas in Sines.
1. Watch a bird ringing session in Estação de Anilhagem do Monte do Outeirão (Monte do Outeirão Ringing Station).
2. In Santo André Lagoon, observe the several hundred wintering and migratory birds.
1. Enjoy the sandy beaches and the rough sea along the Reserve coast.
2. Visit Centro de Interpretação do Monte do Paio (Monte do Paio Interpretation Center) and marvel at the lagoon landscape.
Best Season: All year long
Reserva Natural das Lagoas de Sto. André e da Sancha (Headquarters)
Bairro Azul - Passeio da Fraternidade, Coletiva C4, R/C Dto.
7500-100 VILA NOVA DE SANTO ANDRÉ
Telefone: (00351) 269 708 400
Centro de Interpretação do Monte do Paio (Monte do Paio Interpretation Center)
Monte do Paio - Brescos
7500-014 VILA NOVA DE SANTO ANDRÉ
Phone: (00351) 269 749 001
Estação Ornitológica Nacional do Monte do Outeirão (National Ornithological Station of Monte do Outeirão)
Phone: (00351) 269 708 400