Name of company
Type of activity
Boat tours and trips to Ilha Deserta (or to give it its official name, Ilha Barreta), the Ria Formosa’s own deserted island.
One of the main islands in the Ria Formosa Nature Park - a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ destination of inlets, sandbars and a spectacular 11km beach, the southernmost part of Portugal.
As its name suggests, the island has no permanent inhabitants, and comprises a restaurant (Estaminé - see separate review on the right), a small beach concession of umbrellas and sunbeds, and a stretch of beach with your name on it.
Nature Guided Tour: In a small covered catamaran with a multi-lingual guide speaking about local biodiversity, traditional activities, and the history of Faro.
Private Guided Tour: As above, but in a RIB speedboat (plus the option of also adding on Armona and Culatra islands)
Ferry: Straightforward sea crossing in a large catamaran.
Party boat: The luxury catamaran Jamanta takes 200 passengers and can be hired exclusively for tours, parties, weddings and corporate events. It comes with bar service, DJ deck, and areas for dancing and relaxing. You can appoint your own caterer for the food.
Got to see/do?
Take the guided tour for an informed commentary on the flora and fauna of the Ria Formosa. Or simply enjoy the sea crossing on its own.
Once on the island, the options are limited to eating, drinking, walking, swimming, sunbathing or sleeping. What else do you need from life?
Why do you like it?
If you think the Algarve is just golf, beaches, hotels and nightlife, welcome to the alternative. It’s hard to imagine you are on the same planet, let alone in the same region.
When to go?
Year-round, depending on the weather. There is a set timetable (see below) which will allow you to plan your day.
As with most things in the Algarve, it will be a lot busier (and hotter) in the main tourist months of July and August.
Estaminé is the only restaurant on Ilha Deserta. It also has a snack bar.
Take a picnic with you if you just want to visit the beach.
If you also visit Armona and Culatra islands, they have a choice of restaurants.
There is no accommodation on Ilha Deserta. Don’t miss your return boat!
If you have gone out on one of the guided tours, you can choose to come back on the normal ferry at any time.
Even in the middle of summer, the beach on Ilha Deserta won’t be crowded - it’s enormous, and if you’re prepared to walk just a little way from the restaurant/sunbeds, the number of sunworshippers thins out considerably, as do the presence of swimming costumes. It’s the perfect place to get an all-over tan, as it’s one of three official naturist beaches in the Algarve.
Size/limit of numbers
Estaminé seats 120 in the main restaurant.
The private guided tours are for a minimum of 6 people.
The ferry takes 96 passengers (36 on the inside covered deck and 60 on the outside covered deck).
All boats leave from Cais da Porta Nova on the edge of the old town of Faro. It’s opposite the marina and just past the Centro Ciencia Viva (Centre for Living Science).
Nature Guided Tour: The return price is €25 for adults and €10 for children aged 5-11. Children under 5 go free.
Private Guided Tour: €35 return (€45 if you include Culatra, €55 if you include Culatra and Armona).
Ferry: The return price is €10 for adults and €5 for children aged 5-11. Children under 5 go free.
Jamanta party boat: prices on application.
Nature Guided Tour: Departures from Faro at 11.30am and 4pm. Returns from Ilha Deserta at 12.45pm, 2.30pm, 4pm, 5.30pm and 7pm. The guided tour takes about 1 hour 15 minutes on the way out, as you will travel slowly in places and stop every now and then to view the wildlife. The return takes about 35 minutes.
Private Guided Tour: Departures from Faro anytime from 10am to 6pm (subject to availability). Returns from Ilha Deserta anytime up to 7pm (5.30pm from October to May). The guided tour takes about 1 hour on the way out, and 15 minutes on the return.
Ferry: Departures from Faro at 10am, 12am, 1.30pm, 3.15pm, 4.45pm and 6.15pm. Returns from Ilha Deserta at 10.45am, 12.45pm, 2.30pm, 4pm, 5.30pm and 7pm. Each leg of the journey takes 35 minutes.
Estaminé restaurant is open year-round (winter: 11am-5.30pm, summer: 10.30am-7pm). It can also be hired out-of-hours for private groups.