Arrábida Natural Park (Portugal) comprises beaches with high natural and scenic values under huge demand during peak season. Understanding patterns of beach use and the perceptions of users is essential for carrying capacity management. This paper discusses the use intensity and dynamic in two beaches, using data from onsite counting, time-lapse photos and a traffic counter. Users' perceptions regarding general aspects of the beaches and perceived crowding obtained through questionnaires are also presented. The number of users recorded in this study never reached the carrying capacity established and most users feel comfortable with the number of people on the beach. However, parking and traffic were identified as factors of concern: users are not discouraged by the limited parking spaces, often exceeding the formal capacity by parking on the roadside. This type of problem needs to be addressed not only in the context of beach management but also the protected area management.
- Social carrying capacity
- Users' perceptions