How to get to Ilha Deserta
The access to Ria Formosa’s barrier islands is only possible by boat, a pleasant and calm journey along the labyrinths of the lagoon. While the boat makes its way through channels and marshlands, keep an eye out for the various birds that come here to feed and breed. You can also observe the traditional fishermen and shellfish gatherers who subsist on the best that the Ria Formosa has to offer.
Every Day, All Year Round
Animaris operates a fleet dedicated to Ilha Deserta and Ria Formosa Natural park. Starting from Faro and Olhão (Jamanta), you can choose between several options of Boat Tours:
Private Island Shuttle
Eco Tour Ria Formosa
Hop-on Hop-off Islands
Get your ticket online to avoid queues
We invite you to step onboard of our yellow boats and enjoy the trip with Ria Formosa on the background.
The Island Shuttle is a speedboat service that takes you from Faro to Ilha Deserta and Estaminé Restaurant in a quick journey. This boat trip is safe and suitable for all family and is a best seller amongst our products. Available every day, all year round, with several daily departures.
For cold or rainy days, Animaris now has a unique cabin speedboat, so that you can make your trip to Ilha Deserta or a tour around the Ria Formosa's Islands, with all the comfort conditions.
Travel time: 15 minutes.
Pricing - one way: 10€/person
Every day, twelve months a year, our Ferry starts his journey at 10 o’clock, in direction to Ilha Deserta. A calm and relaxing trip through the inland waters of the Natural Park.
“Praia das Conchas” is one of the “zebras” in our family, a Catamaran with capacity for 96 passengers.
This boat is totally covered and partially cabined, for full sun protection and has 2 toilets on board.
Regular transportation service from Faro to Ilha Deserta, with several daily departures, starting at 10 am.
Travel time: 45 minutes
Pricing - one way: 5€/person
Eco Tour Ria Formosa
Guided nature tour, by boat, departing from Faro, in direction to Ilha Deserta. The Eco Tour is a must do in the Natural Park, where our professional nature guide will lead you through an interactive experience in the lagoon, with breathtaking landscapes. He will share with you information regarding local biodiversity, traditional activities, Faro’s history, the barrier islands, the plants and the animals that inhabit Ria Formosa. For being a calm and educational journey, the Eco Tour is a popular choice amongst families, small groups and solo travellers.
Ria Formosa is the largest wetland in the South Portugal, featuring an extensive string of sandy barrier islands, parallel to the coast protecting the interior of the Natural Park from the Atlantic Ocean, conceiving environmental conditions like an estuary. As so Ria Formosa hosts thousands of birds every year, and it is not surprising that some rarities regularly visit us. The wide variety of habitats in Ria Formosa leads to the occurrence of more than 30,000 birds and 300 species, in the Natural Park either during their migration or for breeding.
Examples of species that we often observe during the birdwatching tours or the eco-tours, depending on the season, are Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta), White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Common Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna), Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), Little grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Little Terns (Sternula albifrons), Sandwich Terns (Thalasseus sandvicensis), Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta), Sanderlings (Calidris alba), Red Knots (Calidris canutus) among others.
As on all wildlife tours, it is impossible to guarantee any specific sighting, but sometimes on our tours we are surprised by wandering Ospreys (Pandion halietus) or large groups of Great Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber), for example. In Ilha Deserta, the avifauna is also abundant, specially along the boardwalk to Cabo de Santa Maria, where the highlight is the colonies of Audouin’s Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii). Moreover, the island is also home for passarines, such as Sardinian Warblers (Sylvia melanocephala) and Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), among others.
The Eco Tour leads you to Ilha Deserta, where you can continue your journey, by exploring this pristine island, relaxing on the beach and taste the local cuisine at Estaminé restaurant.
We recommend participating on the guided Walking Tour, along the islands’s boardwalk, in direction to the southernmost point of Portugal.
Feel the pulse of Ilha Deserta and enjoy this paradisiac island.
Eco Tour Ria Formosa (Boat)
Average duration: 75 minutes (you are free to choose the return time - upon availability).
Pricing: 30€/person, including return by Ferry
Walking Nature Tour - Ilha Deserta (Pedestrian)
"Rota das Dunas" - Guided Tour ending at Cape Saint Mary.
Average duration: 45 minutes
Hop On Hop Off Islands
Discover The Islands
Feel free to explore the Ria Formosa’s barrier islands at your own pace.Departing from Faro, you can take the boat circuit to the islands of the Natural Park, and you have freedom to travel between them, on the available schedules. The ticket is valid for 24 hours on all trips until you return to Faro.
How does the Hop On Hop Off Islands work?
We have multiple scheduled pickup times in the three islands (hourly), giving you the flexibility to visit them all, choosing the time you want to spend on each one. Our boat skippers will be there to guide you and provide all the information you need during your journey.
You can depart from Faro, spend the day exploring and traveling between the islands, and choose your return time.
FREEDOM TO EXPLORE
Where does the boat stop?
Live an adventure at Ria Formosa, and enjoy all the beauty the Natural Park has to offer.
Pricing: 30€/person, including return by Shuttle or Ferry
Where does the boat stop?
All aboard for an incredible adventure! At the pier (Cais da Porta Nova), talk to our staff dressed in yellow shirts and take a picture of the stops schedule with your mobile phone. Get on a yellow speedboat, or if you prefer start on the Ferry Boat heading to Ilha Deserta.
2. Deserta Island
A singular paradise, the Deserta Island (meaning desert island) is an invitation to tranquility and quietness, being the only uninhabited island. Relish on the beauty of this unique place dominated by nature, relax on the beach, observe the wildlife or take the Walking Tour to Cape Saint Mary. Swim in the ocean’s clear waters, sunbathe or enjoy a memorable meal at Estaminé during your visit to Ilha Deserta.
3. Farol Island
Farol is the name of the small village located in the Culatra Island, known by the locals as Farol Island. The name Farol means lighthouse, due to the Santa Maria lighthouse. It is a very popular and crowded beach during summer time. A great place to take a walk to the 1 km sea wall, or a 15 minute walk to have a drink at one of the beach bars.
4. Culatra Island
Culatra Island is a typical fishermen village, with a permanent community that lives from the best that Ria Formosa has to offer. In the low tide, you can take a look at the very popular oyster farms that export internationally. Take the chance to visit the church, the school, meet the locals, and observe the tradicional fishing gear.
Animaris provides boat chartering in Ria Formosa all year round. Ideal for groups: families, corporate or tourism.
Enquire us to find out more about the Boat Chartering and Private Tours options, availability and prices. Please send us the following details: number of people (adults/children), date, hour of departure/return and experience you are looking for.
Boat trips subject to weather conditions.
Prices per person, including VAT at legal rate.