Boat trip to the islands of the Ria Formsa
An excursion by boat from Faro to the Ilha da Barreta and Ilha do Farol
Even in January the Ria Formosa is worth a trip by boat. On a sunny morning in early 2016 our small group of tourists from all over the world embarked to explore the natural reserve with professional guidance given by a local expert in various languages. The Ria Formosa is a lagoon system protected by a chain of islands and peninsulas from the rough sea of the Atlantic Ocean, a habitat of many bird and fish species.
The boat debarked from the quay in Faro, situated near the Porta Nova of the historical old town. Target of the first leg was the Ilha da Barreta, also known as Ilha Deserta (deserted island) because it is uninhabited. The southernmost tip of continental Portugal, the Cabo de Santa Maria, is only a short walk to the west from the landing stage where we went ashore. During this time of the year you can stroll along the seaside beach for miles without meeting people.
Our next break was on the island to the east, Ilha da Culatra. A huge lighthouse (port. farol) marks the passage between the island and the neighbouring Ilha da Barreta, the only way through for boats to Faro. The light can be seen by afar at night. This part of the island is also called "Ilha do Farol", and the name of the popular beach on the sea side is Praia do Farol. The small settlement nearby is made up of fishermen’s cottages and holiday accommodation, facing the lagoon. After two unforgettable hours the boat took us back to Faro