Salt Journey & Gastro Tasting

When visiting the salt pans of Castro Marim, you will meet Jorge, a really amazing and authentic host.  He not only tells you everything about the Flor de Sal production and let you harvest the salt by yourself, but also invites you for a salt tasting with typical local products.

During this personalised tour guests discover that salt from this protected landscape is once again a prized commodity, but this time by gourmet chefs and enthusiastic home cooks.

‘Salmarim’ is one of the few remaining family-owned artisan companies that still harvests salt in the traditional way. Jorge Raiado, our tour host, shares his passion and expertise in salt making.

It starts at the salt basins. Once flooded with seawater, the magic begins. As the water evaporates, Jorge explains, flor de sal (delicate, jewel-like pyramid crystals of salt) form and rise to the surface. You might even get the chance to try your hand at harvesting this ‘caviar of salts’ using traditional tools.

Once inside Jorge’s traditional salt barn one learns more of the different types of salts: from robust sea salt to the different types of subtle flor del sal, valued for its natural moisture, complex flavour, and richness in healthy minerals (including magnesium, calcium, and potassium). Little wonder some of the finest award winning restaurants across Portugal and beyond use this Algarve flor de sal to finish their dishes, often coming to Salmarin to create their own unique ‘blend’ of crystals.

What better way to experience the transformative powers of salt than trying it with food? Jorge begins with offering local artisan cheese and organic tomatoes so one can relish the difference in flavours with a dusting of flor de sal.

Glasses are filled with sparkling Portuguese wine, and the barn is filled with the sound of pops and crackles, and the fresh smell of the sea. Jorge places a large tray, laden with a generous layer of sea salt, upon a small gas stove. This bed of white jewels is all that is needed to cook jumbo Scarlet Cardinal carabineros Atlantic prawns to perfection.

Visit an Oyster Farm

The Ria Formosa oyster has a taste impossissble to beat. If you do not just want to enjoy it fresh at our Grand Beach Club, you can also go straight to where the magic starts.

Visit an oyster farm on the breath-taking beautiful island of Culatra. You will be welcomed personally by the president of the island that has many surprisingly facts about the island life and future, the locals, and of course, about oysters, to tell. Culatra is not only a beautiful tourist destination, but also a pioneer in sustainability. Needless to say that the oysters will be tasted on the spot.

There is plenty of time to relax on one of the idyllic beaches and then stop off at one of the rustic restaurants.

 

HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS EXPERIENCE?
When embarking on this journey, you support the sustainability project “Culatra 2030”. The value of your experience will go in part towards this project, thus making you an important part of the community’s sustainable development projects. You will receive information on the progress of the project and all the news.

CLEAN ENERGY ON ISLANDS
“Culatra 2030 – Sustainable Energy Community” is a project selected by the European Secretariat for Clean Energy on Islands to be one of six pilot projects throughout Europe. The aim is to make Culatra a self-sufficient community in terms of energy, exclusively using clean and renewable sources. A strong commitment to the preservation of environmental values and sustainability.

BY THE WAY
PS: A juvenile oyster is between 2mm to 6mm in size and here in the Algarve it takes one to one-and-a-half years for an oyster to be fully grown. The final size and appearance of an oyster depend on the quality of water and ambient temperatures. In France it takes up to four years for an oyster to be fully developed. One reason (unbeknownst to most French oyster consumers) the largest French aquaculture enterprise grows a substantial part of their production in Algarvean waters. Only for export to France!

 

Vis a Vis with Flamingos

An easy morning or afternoon hike… Just walk out of Vila Real de Santo António and find yourself in th middle of the beautiful Nature Reserve “Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real do San Antonio”. This botanically-rich estuarine wetland is one of the best places to see the Greater Flamingo along with Avocets, Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts and many species of ducks. There are also storks nests in trees on the reserve. If you’re still up for it, make a detour to Castro Marim and visit the castle. You can either walk back or call us to arrange a transfer back to the hotel.

Ria Formosa Tour

You won’t be able to take your eyes off it… A Natural Park since 1987, the Ria Formosa is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. A stunningly complex lagoon system with a huge diversity of fauna and flora, it is in a permanent state of flux due to the influence of winds, currents and tides.

The natural park designation does not only protect local wildlife, such as flamingos, seahorses and precious birds, but also the small fishing communities who rely on traditional and sustainable fishing methods that otherwise would be lost to mass development.

The tour on a solar boat brings you to the beautiful village of  Cacela Velha or  Quatro Aguas. You can do whatever you want. Either just stop at one of the sand bars and go swimming or visit the church.

Food and beverages can be included.

Salt Spa

A natural, outdoor, mineral-rich water spa works as a new therapy centre in the salt ponds of Castro Marim. Our Portuguese “dead sea” is a must, combining traditional salt production with an innovative open air spa.

Bathing in a salt pan is definitely an experience. A natural one. Unlike a traditional contemporary spa, here the natural surroundings are made out of wood and clay, blue skies and the sun.

The pond is composed of argila, special clay that softens your skin and contains 80 different minerals. Are you ready to soak in clay and float in 30ºC salt ponds?