Quinta de Marim

The tidal mill at Quinta de Marim

The tidal mill at Quinta de Marim

This is the perfect Algarve walk when it’s too nice to be indoors, but not warm enough to sit on a beach.  Doesn’t that boardwalk call to you?  It does to me.

Quinta de Marim is part of the Ria Formosa nature reserve.  A 3 km trail leads through the pines and around the salt marshes, taking in the lovely old tidal mill en route.  The main purpose of the reserve is conservation and education.  The best option is to buy a map for a couple of euros and go at your own pace, but a guided tour is also available for advanced bookings.

No putting out to sea in this, I don't think!

No putting out to sea in this, I don’t think!

In the distance you can see the island of Armona

In the distance you can see the island of Armona

The tidal mill is the highlight of the reserve

But for me, the tidal mill is the highlight of the reserve

It sits proudly on the water

It sits proudly on the water

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

The views from the roof are captivating

The views from the roof are captivating

Sky and sea become one

Sky and sea blend into one

In a bird watcher's paradise

In a bird watcher’s paradise

A place where the spirit soars

A place where the spirit soars

I had never come across the concept of a tidal mill before and so was pleased that, inside the mill, display boards explain how it works.

Light floods in, illuminating the mill wheels

Light floods in, illuminating the mill stones

The ebb and flow of tide is what makes the mill work

The ebb and flow of tide is what makes the mill work

I had never seen anything quite like it before

I had never seen anything quite like it before

In season I believe the mill operates a small cafe, but it was closed when I was there.  The rest of the reserve incorporates salinas (or salt pans), a traditional farmhouse, a bird hospital and several hides for birdwatching.  Traditionally Portuguese water poodles were kept here- a special breed with webbed toes, once used in the fishing process.  These days they are most often seen in public demonstrations.

A Portuguese water poodle in action

A Portuguese water poodle in action

The reserve is close to Olhao Camping, and is signed off the E125 just before you reach Olhao, if you’re approaching from the east.


  1. Looks like a lovely place for a stroll. And I love Portuguese water dogs. I think they have more energy than my dog, which is alarming on some levels since I’ve been playing fetch with Miles all morning.

    1. What a lovely way to put it, Eunice 🙂 I have some beautiful sisters on here that I’ll never meet, but it really doesn’t matter. Look after yourself, and get those health issues sorted.

  2. Thanks for the explanation of the tidal mill! I was hoping to read about its function. And the place looks like an ideal spot for bird watching.

    1. I would have supplied more details, Kate, but I was a little uncertain and didn’t want to get it wrong. I saw lots of birds wading and skimming the water. Idyllic, really 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Sonel 🙂
      I’m fighting a battle with myself over the header. Part of me really likes the stark look, which then focuses more on the photos, but the photo header is very eye pleasing. I’m also told that if you view it on an iPhone it really needs the header pic, but I don’t have one (you would guess that, wouldn’t you? 🙂 so I can’t tell. Big hugs in return.

  3. I love walking on boardwalks Jo … the anticipation that they lead somewhere important like your gorgeous mill is part of that … thanks for refreshing and informative tour!

    1. Don’t you think huskies would be better with the weather you folks are having? It looks surreal, Gem! I would have gone into deep hibernation 😦
      And thank you! 🙂

      1. Hah! You’re probably right about the Huskies.
        The weather has gone insane. My son down in Georgia was looking at 70 degrees yesterday, and at the same time they were closing the schools because the ice and snow were on their way for today! CRAZY!

  4. I also love boardwalks, Jo. What a great meander you had. The mill is fascinating, and I just had to look up “Portuguese Water Poodle.” How amazing to have dogs herding fish and retrieving broken nets and lost fishing tackle! I’m most impressed. 🙂

  5. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! One of our rescue pups has a touch (so says our vet – we can’t be sure) of Spanish Water Dog in him…mind you, he doesn’t like going for walks in the rain and stays well away from the sea when we go on the beach, so I don’t think he’d be much use for catching our supper!

    1. We went to a demonstration in Lagos and there were several reluctant pups, Tanya, so he’s not alone. They’re very cute though. One guy was motoring around on his Harley Davison with a Water Poodle perched up front 🙂

    1. I discovered this place from the Rough Guide, more than 10 years ago, Sue. It’s a while since I’d been back, but being up on that roof with the world laid out before me was just magical. 🙂

  6. Using the ebb and flow of the tide for the mill is fascinating, I’ve only ever seen mills on rivers – may have something to do with being in the land locked midlands though.
    I bet the water dog demonstrations are interesting to watch.

    1. I did a post about the water dogs somewhere, Vicky, but so organised is this blog, I couldn’t find it to put a link in 😦 The overhaul is ongoing 🙂 Did you notice I’ve used borders? I tried adding some header photos but wasn’t happy with the overall look.

    1. I’m sighing pretty loudly while writing the posts, Laurie. Today in the Algarve the birds will be tweeting, the blossom, blossoming… you know how it goes. But in my little north eastern corner it’s still Winter. Make you feel any better? 🙂

  7. That is such a beautiful and peaceful place. Thank you for taking us there. “A place where the spirit soars” is a remarkable capture! I also like the first and second photos. The mill work is so very interesting. Great post, Jo!

    1. I think Monday must be “walk day” on the blog, Jill. 🙂 I should have been out walking in reality but it was so cold and uninviting. I keep telling myself “Spring!”

  8. Wow, what a wonderful gallery – that sky …. the clearness in your day. You know I enjoy our walks together. Beautiful spot … my favorite shots are the ones from the roof top. Very creative and beautiful.

    1. I loved being up on that roof, Vivi. The whole world at my feet 🙂
      I’ve been playing again this morning. Tried putting a photo in the header but didn’t like it so much as the plain look. I should have been out walking but it was cold and grey. I’d rather stay here, with you 🙂 Hugs!

      1. I can see from your photos that you enjoyed being up there.
        Amazing gallery.
        Over here the winter is falling gently over us .. since yesterday, still not that cold – but no sun neither. Today I have tried to catch up with what I have missed in this world during the world – now it’s time to go under the duvet.
        A big Night hug … from me in the middle of the winter.

  9. One of my favourite camp sites ever. Well, apart from the permanent resident mosquitos courtesy of the water.

    Back when we went it wasn’t open to the public. We tried to sneak through and were turned away 😦 Still beautiful though, one of my favourite places. I love Olhao. Can’t pass without sneaking a night there. And lovely bolos at the railway station. Oh, and the little man in uniform with a flag to wave of the train. Is he still there?

    1. That is a bonus to January, Rough- no mozzies! 🙂 I’ve only ever passed through Olhao railway station once and I don’t remember a guy with a flag. I’ll say hello for you if I get back round that way.

      1. I know but I’m from Iowa we don’t know much about boardwalks aside from movies and songs!

  10. What a lovey boardwalk, it looks most inviting! So does the weather in Algarve, dear Jo. I wouldn’t mind the sund and warmth right now, it’s snow-raining in Norfolk today. The winter has been surprisingly mild so far though, – bloomin’ mild actually. Some of the Rhododendrons in Sheringham Park already flowering.
    Have a lovely day!

    1. Me neither, Dina! I’m back in the UK and reminiscing 🙂
      I intended to go out with my walking friends this morning but cold and grey isn’t so appealing. I stayed at home and played with my blog instead. Soon be Spring! (maybe 🙂 ) The snowdrops are out and I’ve seen winter flowering blossom lately.

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