Tourist and resident information on Portugal, Madeira and The Azores

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Ilha da Culatra Olhão

The two main areas for beaches at Olhão, on the Algarve close to Faro, are on the islands of Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona. Both are reached by short boat journeys from the harbour near the fish and vegetable market and the replica of the Caique Bom Sucesso.

Cabo de Santa Maria Lighthouse, Ilha da Culatra Olhão, Algarve, Portugal.
Cabo de Santa Maria Lighthouse

Ilha da Culatra is the further from Olhão by boat of the two islands, which are both part of the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa, a large area of coastal salt marsh, creeks, lagoons and sand dunes stretching 60 km from Faro east to Cacela Velha.

The boat drops you off at the small quay with a few bars and restaurants nearby. Walk from here to Praia de Farol (Lighthouse Beach) near the lighthouse for the nearest beach.

Praia de Farol, Ilha da Culatra Olhão, Algarve, Portugal.
Praia de Farol

Sun loungers and parasols can be rented on the sands and there is a beach cafe/restaurant. A few sellers also wander the beach in summer hawking ice cream and sweet, cream-filled buns (Bolos de Berlim).

The water is clear, though a little cool and the fine sand is kept clean. Indeed you can watch more sand being dredged just offshore to be deposited on the beach during the offseason in winter.

Ilha do Farol
Ilha do Farol

About the Island

Altogether the Ilha da Culatra is 6 km long and is divided into three parts: Farol, Hângares (the smallest) and Culatra (the largest settlement). Administratively, the island is part of the freguesia or parish of Faro with a population of around 1,000 people, mainly involved in fishing. Many of the local houses are powered by solar panels or mini wind turbines. Even some of the fishing boats used on the island are both solar- and wind-powered.

The northern side of the island is sheltered and mainly lagoons and here near the ferry harbour is a marina for fishing boats and yachts.

Another beach on the south of the island is Praia da Culatra, west of Farol (Ilha do Farol).

Ilha da Culatra Olhão, Portugal.
Relaxing on the beach

Rooms and holiday cottages can be rented here. You may need to inquire in one of the places near the harbour. Casa Marina is one such place.

There are no paved roads or vehicles on the island which is very tranquil and relaxing. Wooden boardwalks have been laid to ease pedestrian access to the beaches.

Ilha da Culatra Olhão, Algarve.
The arid landscape of the island


Ilha da Culatra can also be reached by a year-round ferry from Faro (10 km away / 30 minutes).

Ilha da Culatra Olhão.
Holiday homes on the island

Ilha da Culatra Olhão.
View of the ocean

Timetable for boats to Culatra and Farol on Ilha da Culatra.

Timetable for boats to Culatra and Farol on Ilha da Culatra.
Click on the timetable to enlarge


Hotels in Albufeira -

Hotels in Faro -

Hotels in Olhão -

Hotels in Tavira -

© Portugal Visitor

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