Ilha da Culatra – General information
Ilha da Culatra is an island in the natural park of Ria Formosa, near the town of Olhão. This island is one of the islands that separates the sea from the Ria Formosa. Ilha da Culatra is about 6 kilometres long and about 100 to 900 meters wide. The island is permanently inhabited by around 1000 people, who mainly live from fishing and tourism. Ilha da Culatra is also highly rated on TripAdvisor, who states that it is the #1 thing to do in Olhão.
The island consists of three parts: Culatra, Farol and Hângares. Culatra is a small fishing village, that is mainly inhabited by fishermen. Farol is a small village with a lighthouse (Farol in Portuguese), with a nice and quiet beach. This part of the island is sometimes called Ilha do Farol, suggesting it is another island than Ilha da Culatra, but actually it is a different part of the same island. Culatra and Farol are the only villages on the island. Hângares is a more quiet area, with very little infrastructure and few tourists. All three of these of a great beach, quite comparable to one another. There is a ferry to Culatra and another one to Farol, so these can be easily reached. If you want to go to the beach of Hângares, you will have to walk there.
Because Culatra island can only be reached by ferry, it is not crowded as many of the beaches on the mainland. The island is mainly visited by Portuguese families for a daytrip, but also by tourists who are looking to get away from the crowded beaches of the mainland of the Algarve.
The beaches on the island stretch for several kilometres and are quite sandy. The sea water is calm, transparent and exceptionally clean. This is great for diving and snorkeling. You will be able to see a nice variety of flora and fauna underwater. Be warned that the water on the side of the ocean can be quite cold.
There are no roads for vehicles on the island. It is only possible to explore the island by foot, on wooden paths. This makes Ilha da Culatra is a great place for hiking in nature. You will see a variety of vegetation and wildlife and will truly appreciate the beauty of this island.
How to get there
You can reach Ilha da Culatra by ferry, which departs from Olhão or Faro. You can decide or yourself if you want to take the ferry to Culatra or Farol, both of which are situated on Ilha da Culatra. Departing from Olhão, the journey takes about 30 minutes to Culatra and 45 minutes to Farol. Departing from Faro, the journey takes about 30 minutes to Farol or 40 minutes to Culatra. It is not possible to reach the island by car. The timetable of the ferry can be found at the docking station, where you also buy the tickets. Make sure to not miss your ferry back to the mainland.
Ilha da Culatra – Facilities
There are several faciities on the island, including restaurants and cafes. However, it is recommended to bring your own food and drinks if you visit the island for a day trip.
Facilities in Ilha da Culatra:
• Restaurant: yes
• Bar/club: no
• Toilet: yes
• Shower: yes
• Water sports: no
• Sunbeds: yes
• Parking: no, the island is not accessible by car
• Lifeguards: yes
• Blue flag beach: yes