In the Algarve, discovering the natural beauty of the Ria Formosa

O Pcleanliness VThis week’s erde invites you to discover the Ria Formosa Natural Park from the city of Faro. Classified as a natural park in 1987, it has an extension of around 18 thousand hectares and spreads along 57 km of coast, between the Ancão peninsula, in the municipality of Loulé, and Manta Rota, already in the municipality of Vila Real de Santo António. The Ria Formosa It is delimited “externally†by the so-called barrier islands: Faro, Culatra, Armona, Tavira and Cabanas. At the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park are salt marshes, sandbanks, islands, islets and channels that nature designs in a dynamic way and which are home to unique fauna and flora, in addition to influencing uses , customs, traditions and activities of riverside populations, from fishing to tourism.

Ria Formosa in Faro

Nuno Augusto / Algarve Seen from the Air

Navigate the paths of the estuary

With due awareness of the need for conscious tourism, there are many leisure programs available to enjoy the Algarve heat, with more or less demanding activities, to suit everyone’s taste. With the car parked next to the Portas do Mar (or Porta Nova) pier, it is possible prefer to varied boat trips in the Ria Formosa. A You are animated (Tel. 918779155) offers a relaxed trip of contemplation and discovery of the fauna and flora of the Ria Formosa and some of the secrets of the natural park. Among the various programs and proposals, the Eco Tour Ria Formosa stands out. (from €35)between Faro and Ilha Deserta, accompanied by a marine biologist guide. Already with the Formosamar (Tel. 918720002), among the various tours available, it is possible observar dolphins and seabirds and sea turtles in their natural habitat from Faro. The boat trip (from €50) lasts approximately two hours and goes beyond the Ria Formosa, reaching 5 miles from the coast. Here you can see various species of cetaceans, as the common dolphin, a rose-corvineiro and occasionally the porpoise and the minke whale.

The most seen seabirds are alcatraz, a cgrab, a gMediterranean gull and various species of Alma-de-master. A must-see for the caiman, with its showy blue plumage, which is a symbol of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and for the pink flamingos, which already nest in the area. There is also the possibility of observing other species, such as sea turtles, oceanic sunfish and until sharks. Also Natura Algarve (Tel. 918056674), which has information points and tour sales in Olhão and Farohe does saídas by boat along the coast to watch dolphins (from €45), with the possibility of, along the trip, coming across various seabirds, turtles, sunfish and tuna. A Lands – Turismo de Natureza (Tel. 914 539 511), suggests eco-tours on a solar boat, which can either be bird watching or celebrating the sunset. From Faro, the company rents and offers kayak tours along the estuary.

Farol Beach

Hélio Ramos / RTA

Sunbathing on paradise islands

The beaches of the Ria Formosa Natural Park are always very popular, thanks to the turquoise blue waters, which are calm and crystal clear, and the extensive sandy areas that allow you to spread your towel without any major inconvenience. The largest wetland in the south of Portugal has around 60 km of coastline, ins calls Islands-barrier. The municipality of Faro includes Ilha da Culatra, Farol, and Ilha de Faro (better known as Praia de Faro). With the exception of the latter, the islands are only accessible by boat. Jjustify them also stops at the beaches of Barreta, which fishermen call “Deserta†, Barril, with the small train and anchors reminiscent of tuna fishing, Terra Estreita or Homem Nu.

This Green Tour was carried out in partnership with Kia – Boa Cama Boa Mesa Official Car

There are boat connections to the islands, with the main departures being made in Faro, Olhão and Tavira. All year round (departing from Cais das Portas do Mar) as maritime careers or services barco-táxi, allows discover the beauty of these islands.

To Faro beach, the ferry (€3.90/ round trip) leaves every 30 minutes, from 09:00 to 19:00. For Farol and Culatra Islands (since €6), the maritime career plan varies throughout the summer, so prior confirmation is suggested. Guaranteedly, until August 31st, there are six daily routes to Ilha do Farol, a journey of around 40 minutes, and to Ilha da Culatra, a 50-minute journey, with only two departures per day. rias from Faro. Animaris has exclusive access to Ilha Deserta, with a 45-minute journey by ferry or 15 minutes by shuttle. The company also operates the only restaurant on the island, Estaminé (Tel. 917811856), accessible only by boat, offering the best of the Ria Formosa, from the paradisiacal landscape to the products. Various seafood rice dishes come out of the solar-powered stove. There are also oysters, clams, muxama and “Smoked mackerel Tiborna†(average price: €40)

Sea horses


Seahorse observation

Once upon a time, the Ria Formosa was home to the world’s largest community of seahorses, with populations of two existing species, the long-snouted seahorse (hippocampus guttulatus) and the short-snouted seahorse. (hippocampus hippocampus), numbering millions of individuals. Two decades after this discovery, 90% of seahorses disappeared. In 2019, an alert was made about the need to preserve the greatest symbol of this Algarve paradise and, this year, the Cavalo-Marinho Safeguard Plan was published, with the consequent creation of areas of refuge where human uses and activities are restricted as much as possible, including tourism.

One A less intrusive way of appreciating the beauty of these animals, as well as getting to know, in full, the characteristics, fauna and flora of the Ria Formosa, can be done at the Centro de Ciência Viva de Faro (Tel. 289890920). Here, there are three large aquariums, with around 4200 liters of salt water, where other inhabitants of the ria can also be seen, including algae, molluscs and fish. With all due care, several companies organize tours to observe seahorses, without oxygen bottles, just with goggles and a breathing tube. Passeios Ria Formosa (Tel. 962156922) it’s at Rota das Ilhas (Tel. 918707405) help to realize this unique experience (from €35), lasting two to three hours. Requires experience in swimming and are equipment provided snorkelinggoggles and diving tube.

Experiences in Ria Formosa


Enjoy the calm waters of the ria

There are dozens of tours to get to know the Ria Formosa, but pfor more independent approaches and still more friendas of the environmentwe suggest a kayak or a board of standup paddle. From Faro, Algarve SUP (Tel. 936735778) has everything you need. necessary for a fun day, from the instructor/guide to the equipment. For the more romantic there are sunset walks along the estuary. É still possible rent a single or two-seater kayak (from €35) for two hours, half a day or a whole day, and set out, from Faro, to discover with the Lands – Nature Tourism (Tel. 914539511). The company also organizes guided tours, on land and water, and has a solar-powered boat.

Salinas do Grelha, in Olhão

Diving in the “Dead Sea” at the Olhão salt flats

About 11 km from Faro, in Olhão, a still almost secret experience awaits: the “Dead Sea†baths, which take place next to the salt flats of the Ria Formosa, in Cova da Onça, on the site of Belamandil. In the lake, measuring 2000 m2, with a salt concentration equivalent to that of the Dead Sea and a water temperature of around 30 degreesfloat, relax and benefit from the properties of the magnificent experience. To enhance the experience, throughout the summer, every Friday and Saturday, night baths can be scheduled, with the sky as a backdrop and ambient music to energize you. This is an experience promoted by Salinas do Grelha (Tel. 967753496), a company specialized in the production of traditional sea salt and fleur de sel.

Tour with Animaris

Bird watching trails

Faro’s riverfront is considered one of the most important wetlands for birds in Portugal. Throughout the year, it records the presence of more than 200 species, which pass through, rest, nest or winter there, which makes this place very appealing for bird watching, including the caymão, with blue plumage, and which is a symbol of the Natural Park. Another favorable location for birdwatching It is the Ludo pedestrian route. This tour covers the wide variety of habitats in the Ria Formosa, such as salt marshes, salt marshes and pine forests. This linear route, just over 8 km long, is also cycleable.

With a variety of routes to explore on foot or by bike, the Ecovia do Litoral route through Faro is also worth mentioning, which is part of Eurovélo, the network of cycling routes that covers the entire European continent.



Sleeping on houseboats

A company Tours Ria Formosa allows fully feel the beauty, the sounds, the aromas, the natural movement of the tides e of fishermen and shellfishers, with an experience almost immersive: sleep fills me upa ria! É possível rent an ecological houseboat, with a bedroom with a panoramic double bed and an additional bedroom for two children. It has a solarium, kitchenette and a small semi-rigid rowing boat for trips to the deserts, which are just 100 meters from the boat. The company’s three houseboats are close to Barra Velha beach and access for “guests†is from the Fuseta pier. In addition to the houseboat for four people, there is another suitable for families and friends, up to 10 guests, and also the Barra Nova, the romantic option, with a panoramic room and a terrace O.

This Green Tour was carried out in partnership with Kia – Boa Cama Boa Mesa Official Car

Passeio Verde is a Boa Cama Boa Mesa initiative, with the support of Kia Portugal, which weekly, throughout 2024, will showcase natural spaces, experiences and activities in nature. On this Green Walk, the Boa Cama Boa Mesa team traveled aboard a Be Niro 100% electric.

“This project is supported by sponsors, with all content created, edited and produced by Expresso (see code of conduct), without external interference.â€

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Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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