Discover Armona Island and spend one of the best holidays in the Algarve, in the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park!
Away from the crowds, Armona Island can only be visited by boat. Here you will find extensive sand beaches, that has remained untouched by human hand and also wildlife, since this island is within the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Ilha da Armona is one of the five barrier islands that prevent the tides from destroying the Ria Formosa lagoon, in the eastern Algarve. The island is 9 km (5.6 mi) long, being narrower to the east (10 m or 10.9 yd) and wider to the west (1.5 km or 0.9 mi).
After a short boat trip (from Olhão or Fuzeta), you can find a place with awesome beaches, clear waters ideal for take a dip in the sea. This spot is a must go for families or group of friends.
This is a peaceful island, especially for a well-spent day or a relaxing beach vacations!
ARMONA island map
We had been waiting to go to Armona Island for some time now, but this time we manage to make the much desired visit. We went to explore it and that’s why we share our experience here. And one thing is for sure, just for the boat crossing, it was already worth it! But then the tranquility and beauty of the island is such that it captivated our attention…
Armona Island is one of the barrier islands of the Ria Formosa. Therefore, the other islands are Barreta (or Deserta), Culatra, Cabanas and Tavira.
On the sea side, Ilha da Armona has almost deserted beaches with fine, clear sand, where the sandbanks form great natural pools. On the side of the lagoon, there are areas of salt marshes, channels and islets. And that’s why there are people out there fishing and catching shellfish.
In the middle of the island are the dunes, which concentrate a rich flora and fauna, with emphasis on migratory birds and chameleons – although unfortunately, the latter, did not allow themselves to be seen by us!
The waters are transparent and generally have a pleasant temperature in the summer. And, we dare say, its blue-green tone is so beautiful that it “took us” to the Caribbean!
The extensive sand beaches allows to be alone away from the crowds, if we wish so. Along the beach, we can find large and beautiful shells to admire!
To the west of Armona Island and facing the Ria lagoon is the only urban centre, Armona.
Those arriving by boat to the village of Armona will see a cluster of houses almost on top of the waterline. However, the best is yet to come!
These are mainly summer houses (for the owners or for rent), or belonging to fishermen or shellfish gatherers. Somes houses are more elaborated, others are simpler and some even resemble doll’s houses
Now we have a 1.5 km (or 0.9 mi) walk to Armona Mar Beach.
First, we cross the town along a concrete walkway, where we can admire the picturesque houses with creative patios and gardens.
On this crossing there are some local businesses, for example groceries, fruit and fishmongers. Likewise, you can also find restaurants, bars and support for water sports activities (windsurfing, kayaking, stand up paddle and underwater fishing)
Surprisingly, we found a delegation from the fire department and another from the Red Cross on this route.
Furthermore, on the island of Armona there is a campsite (with bungalows) for those who want to stay overnight on the island (explained below). And right next to it, children can enjoy a public playground.
On the island, we didn’t see any cars. In this way, here the transport of choice is to walk :).
Armona Mar Beach
After doing all the walkway , which was done very well, we reached Armona Mar Beach through a wooden walkway.
It was well worth it! Unexpectedly, we found a huge bay, with sand as far as the eye can see – certainly one of the most beautiful in the Algarve!
The tranquility invites you to walk along the beach. The sandbanks at the entrance to Barra form what seems to swimming natural pools. Here and there, not only fish can be seen in the water, but schools of fish as well. Going for a swim? 🙂
The Armona Mar Beach is guarded during the bathing season and has some support beach facilities, such as public toilets.
On this beach there is more than enough space for everyone to put their parasols on.
Fuseta Mar Beach
As we continue along the bay, we find Fuseta Mar Beach in the middle of the island. This one is located in front of Fuseta, but faces the Atlantic and takes its name from that fishing village.
At Fuseta Mar Beach prevails the sand as far as the eye can see and the beautiful natural landscape, surrounded by special species of flora in the dunes.
This beach is guarded during the bathing season and has some support beach facilities.
Barra Nova Beach
Continuing towards the east end of the island, we find Barra Nova Beach (or Barra da Fuseta Beach). There it can be seen Barra Nova, the “water channel” that separates Armona Island from Tavira Island.
In the low tide, by natural action, shallow lagoons are formed, with hot water, ideal for families (or those who like to be for long periods in the water!). You must be careful, since here there are no support equipment, nor surveillance.
Armona Ria Beach
Taking the opposite route, that is, return to the village of Armona, already on the Ria side. Here there is located Armona Ria Beach. This is the most visited beach, given its location close to the pier.
Around here, the water is calm. You can see Olhão and the mainland.
The sunset from there must be beautiful. We didn’t watch it, since we have to leave the island!
RIA FORMOSA NATURAL PARK CODE OF CONDUCT
Don’t forget that this is a protected area, you are at a Natural Park! So that future generations enjoy all that natural beauty of Armona Island, it is necessary a conduct that protects the delicate natural ecosystems, such as:
- observe the plants without harvesting them;
- see the animals without disturbing them;
- respect the calm of the place;
- use the walkways, avoiding stepping on the dunes.
Learn more here about the Code of Conduct for the visitors of protected areas.
How to get to Armona Island
Armona Island is accessed by boat, which can be taken im Olhão, or Fuseta. Most visitors mainly use round-trip routes (ferries), as they are cheaper, but there are also those who take “water taxis”. Tickets can be purchased at the boarding pier.
From Olhão (10 km or 6.2 mi from Faro) take the boat to Armona. From the pier, you can easily reach the along side Armona Ria Beach, and Armona Mar Beach 1.5 km (0.9 mi) away, after crossing the village and the wooden walkway
From Fuseta (10 km or 6.2 mi from Olhão) take the boat to Fuseta Mar Beach. After the pier, follow a wooden walkway to Fuseta Mar Beach. And from here, you may head to Barra Nova Beach (or Barra da Fuseta), at the east end of the island.
Parking in Olhão
Close to the Olhão pier, you have to pay for parking. We discovered, however, a free car park at the end of Avenida 5 de Outubro (waterfront boulevard), behind the Real Marina Hotel & Spa. So that’s where we park the car.
Armona Island Restaurants
The village of Armona has several cafes and restaurants, especially close to the pier. These are restaurants with products from the Ria and the sea, such as fish, bivalves and shellfish.
Camaleão Beach Bar
We decided having lunch at the Armona-Mar Beach and went to Camaleão Beach Bar. From its beautiful terrace we were very pleased, since we could see the dunes, part of the beach and the entrance to the bar. The place is nice, the background music was good and we enjoyed the service and the food. The food was simple, but delicious: Angus hamburgers, with fries and cold stout.
If you want to eat near the beach, Camaleão Beach Bar is certainly a good option! This place was listed as one of the 10 best beach bars and cafes in Europe (as chosen by readers of the British newspaper “The Guardian”)!
What to do near Armona Island
The best way to discover the mainland of this part of the Algarve is by car. In case you need to rent a car, search for a good deal at Discover Cars. This car rental platform will help you finding the right place, in a quick and simple manner. Click here to access.
Fuseta Ria BEACH (oR Praia dos Tesos)
If you want to enjoy the beach next to Fuseta, without having to take the boat, Fuseta Ria Beach is also a good option!
Located close to the village’s wharf, Praia dos Tesos (or Fuseta Ria Beach) is for those who do not want to take a boat. The name of the beach (“Teso” in Portuguese means someone that has no money) is certainly due to that (not wanting to spend money on the boat trip!)
Although Fuseta Ria Beach is located inside the lagoon of the Ria, don’t worry about the waters quality, as it’s renewed each tidal cycle. This beach not only has white sand, but also calm waters, and has surveillance and support equipment. From there you can see a curious building with a palisade, it’s the former lifeguard and rescue station.
Explore CULATRA Island
Culatra Island is on of the five barrier islands in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, located on the south coast of the Algarve – islands that prevent the tidal force from invading the interior of the Ria lagoon.
This fishermen’s island is popular for its beautiful and extensive beaches, with white and fine sand and cristal clear and warm waters. A stroll around the island allows you to see the rich fauna and flora, the lagoon and the sea.
Therefore, on Culatra Island you’ll find everything you need to enjoy a truly peaceful and very relaxing vacations!
Get inspired by this post Culatra Island: an authentic fishermen’s island in Algarve.
Olhão is a city linked to the sea and the Ria Formosa. Near the pier is the fishermen’s quarter, with small white houses. Part of the houses have either ‘platibandas’ (a decorated small wall in the highest part of the façade) or roof terraces and windows bordered in blue or gray.
The 17th century Mother Church has a tower that is a good viewpoint for the Ria Formosa.
On Avenida 5 de Outubro, which is along the waterfront, there are countless restaurants where local cuisine can be discovered. There you can enjoy the fresh fish and seafood, grilled or in cataplana (popular cookware used to prepare Portuguese seafood dishes, traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clamshells)
In the middle of this Avenue there are two ex-libris of Olhão: The fish and vegetable markets, side by side. These neo-Arab buildings from the early 20th century stand out for the reddish color of the roofs, walls and turrets. Here the local producers come to sell their products.
The Fishing Port of Olhão, concentrates most of the Algarve fish, is a place to visit to see the bustle of the arrival of boats loaded with fish caught!
Tours with Local Guide
Do you want to go on a tour with a local guide? Find the available tours for this part of Algarve, through our partner Get Your Guide. Click here to learn more.
Armona Island Accommodation
On the islands of Ria Formosa, the offer of accommodation is limited, especially since it’s inside a Natural Park.
However, it is possible to use some villages on the Algarve mainland as a base to discover these islands.
To stay overnight in Armona there is a Campsite (with bungalows), as well as local lodging and several private houses for rent.
Check here the available options:
Orbitur at Armona island
In the middle of Armona is the Orbitur Camping Park. Much sought after in summer, it has direct access to the beach and water sports activities.
The campsite has bungalows, with kitchenette and the number of rooms varies from one to three.
Check here with our partner Booking if there are any bungalow available for the date you want.
It has a place with grills and another with washing and drying machines.
Additionally, it has a children’s playground and a field for playing beach volleyball.
Other Places to Visit in Algarve
- Cacela Velha village: must see Algarve gem at Ria Formosa
- 7 Spots to visit in Castro Marim, Algarve
- Culatra Island: an authentic fishermen’s island in Algarve
- Ria Formosa Natural Park: skip the crowds of Algarve and escape to a paradise
- Self-guided walking tour in Aljezur, Portugal
- Self-guided walking tour in Portimão
- Self-guided walking tour in Lagos
- How to Get to Algarve: Getting In and Getting Around
- The best beaches in Algarve, Portugal
- Best thins to do in Algarve, Portugal: find our selection
|To learn more about other LikedPlaces, go to our Destinations in Portugal page.|
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