There are various theories as to the origin of the name Figueira da Foz. Locals at this seaside town’s busy fishing harbor favor the literal translation: "the fig tree at the mouth of the river." The belief is that when this was just a small settlement, oceangoing fishermen and traders from up the river would arrange to meet at the big fig tree to conduct business. Although there are no fig trees to be seen now, the name has stuck.
Shortly before the turn of the last century, with the improvement of road and rail access, Figueira, with its long, sandy beach and mild climate, developed into a popular resort. Today, although the beach is little changed, a broad four-lane divided boulevard runs along its length. The town side is lined with the usual mélange of apartments, hotels, and restaurants, but the beachfront has been spared from development.