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Ria Formosa islands of eastern Algarve

The most southern region of Portugal, Algarve, on its eastern part has a lagoon named Ria Formosa, which also is a national park. Line of barrier islands creates a safe area from waves and strong ocean winds, home for a lot of animals and good conditions for fishermen and boat trips.

Ria Formosa lagoon stretches for 60 km from the western outskirts of Faro to Cacela Velha, a small village after Tavira.

We wrote about islands around Faro and Olhao here and around Fuseta here. Please, notice, that links are in text with blue colours.

Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira

Islands easily reached from Tavira

In front of Tavira located 2 big islands – Tavira an Cabanas. Both of them have some amazing beaches, but no villages.

Tavira island lays to the all the way to nearby Fuseta Island. Main beaches of the island located near Tavira are Tavira Island Beach, Terra Estreita Beach and Barril Beach. To the first two you can go only by water. But Barril beach you can reach by walk or small train.

Cabanas Island is less long, around 6 km, clean, with beautiful blue water and a lot of space. There is Cabanas beach in front of Cabanas village. Note, that you can go with a private boat to other points of the island with no people. 

Tavira island beach

Algarve islands around Tavira

Tavira island beach has all basic support facilities, like restaurants and toilets. There are trees, which is rare for the islands of the Ria Formosa. Near ferry stop there is a camping. Tavira Island Beach is definitely different from others, there are lots of cafes, but no villages like on the islands near Olhao.

Most of the ferries and boats come to the northeast island part. Ferry operates only in waters of Ria Formosa lagoon, where are no waves or deep waters. There are lots of birds and animals, rare plants. You can see Flamingos from Ferry on your way from the Tavira center. Ria Formosa now has a status of Natural Park and is under government defence. Water deepness varies dependently on tides, the view changes from the sea in high tide to dozens of small islands in low tide.

Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira

How to get to the island / ferry

Its easy t take a boat or ferry to Tavira Island (Tavira beach) from Center of the town or from “Quatro Aguas” place (has big parking). There are Ferry and other cheap boats, which you can easily find in the center of Tavira near old market on the bank of the river.

Quatro Aguas – another Ferry port, a little far from the center – 25 minutes walk, but worth it. Location of the port itself is very nice and calls Quatro Aguas (translates as “four waters”). Its surrounded by water channels and Ria Formosa lagoon. This port is better for people with cars (parking is free), as in the center of Tavira it’s hard to find a parking place.

Ferry goes quite often, usually every half an hour, but depends on the season. Here is schedule and prices for the ferry from Tavira center in October 2020. Check new schedules of the ferry on the Facebook page.  Round trip ticket costs 2,20 euro for adult and 1 euro for a child. The trip with this ferry will take around 15 minutes.

There are ferry boats, which go first from the center and after through Quatro Aguas to the Tavira island beach.

There are also private boats, tours, taxis all around Tavira. The Level of the comfort of those companies is higher, but also the prices are more expensive. Usually, prices are low, it is a very competitive market and Portuguese salaries are comparatively small.

Algarve islands around Tavira

Other beaches on Tavira island

Algarve islands around Tavira

Island Beach Terra Estreita

Nearby Tavira locates touristy village Santa Luzia. In the past, it was fisherman settlement on the front of Ria Formosa Lagoon. In the center of the marina, you can find a ferry to the Terra Estreita beach, which costs around 2 euro round trip. Ferry to the beach will take around 20 minutes, goes through the amazing nature of the natural park.

This beach has less infrastructure than Tavira beach and is basically only sand and ocean. First 150 meters of the beach can be full of people in season, but if you walk further, most probably you will not meet other people.

Santa Luzia locates less than 3 km western of Tavira. You can walk there in around 40minutes from the center of Tavira.

Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira

Barril Beach

1 km further west from village Santa Luzia located a board trail to the Barril Beach (Praia do Barril). You don’t need to take a boat, because there is a nice bridge, after which you can take a small touristy train to beach or walk 15 minutes through the island.

Barril beach also locates on Tavira Island. Walking along the ocean shoreline you can get to other beaches of the island, though it’s quite a long walk.

You would recognize Barril beach by interesting attraction – anchors cemetery. Anchors were used for catching nets of large and powerful Bluefin Tuna. Today the cemetery of anchors is a symbolic memorial to the decline of the tuna and the abandonment of this way of life. There is not anymore Bluefin Tuna in the seas of the Algarve.

The beach is safe for children, with calm and clean waters, and is supervised during the summer season. There are a lot of cafes, some shops.

Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira

Cabanas Island

Algarve islands around Tavira

Cabanas de Tavira.

Village Cabanas locates 6 km to the east from Tavira on the bank of Ria Formosa. Train station locates a little bit far from the village main part, so its better to come with the bus, car or taxi. There is also walking trail from Tavira to Cabanas, through “Salinas- Ciclovia de Tavira“. You can find all kinds of boat excursions here, group tours and private rides.

Opposite the village locates Cabanas island beach. It looks very similar to Terra Estreita beach. Beautiful blue ocean and never-ending sand line with some cafes.

The ferry will take you very fast to the island from center of Cabanas, will cost around 2 euro round trip.

Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira
Algarve islands around Tavira

Check here about island beaches on the eastern end of Ria Formosa. Will tell about Cacela Velha beach, which is in my opinion is the most beautiful beach of Eastern Algarve.

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On our website you can find various kinds of tours in every town. We don’t charge you extra for the booking, but we get a commission like any other seller in any other sailing point online or in the town. Money that we are getting from sales helps us to discover Algarve more and write about it.

 Inna Y.

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