This inspiring location has an abundance of activities for adventurers and hedonists alike. 18,000 hectares of Natural Park in barrier island formations make for a remarkable place to explore by boat. Six inlets from the sea enclose the Ria Formosa’s intricate system of tidal lagoons, allowing you to delve into its heart from the comfort of your Sunseeker.
Visiting the Ria Formosa showcases the Algarve’s variety with this unique arrangement of islands and sandbars. The sweeping blue sky and golden barrier islands create an idyllic setting – rivalling the Caribbean - to bask in the sunshine onboard. These sheltered islands also make it the ultimate place to drop anchor and get the water toys out for an afternoon filled with oodles of fun. Because of its geography, if the weather isn’t playing ball, the Ria Formosa is equally a great place to seek calm from the waves and enjoy some tranquillity onboard your boat.
We suggest after catching up with the Sunseeker team in Vilamoura over some refreshments, you head off, drop anchor in the Ria Formosa and sooth your soul via tender and shimmy your way onto Ilha da Culatra. This paradise island in the Ria Formosa is where Portugal-meets-the-Caribbean with white, sandy expanses of coast hugging the turquoise sea. Located south of Olhão and Faro, Culatra remains relatively unknown and has been untouched by the masses, posing as an escape from the electric demeanour of more populated hotspots.
Easily accessible by boat, and safe to anchor, this uninterrupted island is in a prime position to indulge beach-picnicking whilst admiring the Atlantic waves lap the sandy shore.
For some post-lunch fun, unload the toys and grab the snorkel. The unspoilt surroundings are guaranteed to make the most highly charged entrepreneur or teenager switch off for a few hours. Sip, sunbathe and soak it in!
For those with a little thirst for something new, learn to fly with ‘Fliteboard Algarve’ and get to grips with the industry’s hottest new water toy. Soar past your boat and fellow adventurers demonstrating your new set of skills (although, don’t be offended if the magnificent views distract them from your spectacle).
Lift anchor and head towards the charming island of Armona to expose another of the Algarve’s hidden gems. In striking contrast to Portugal’s chic Quinta do Lago, this untouched haven is a wonderful place to soak up the essence of raw Portuguese beauty.
Visitors to this area are offered something truly spellbinding. Anchor along the sandy stretch of coast and tender in to experience 9km of unspoiled terrain. Following your short tender ride ashore, toast Armona’s allure on the island loved by locals and visitors alike.
Armona is a place of simplicity and beauty. A car-free white sand fringed haven. A tranquil aura shrouds the island; and the gentle way of life for its inhabitants’ sooths one’s soul. Traverse through the fragrant, flower-lined streets to the heart of the island. This jewel in the Algarve makes for a peaceful place to spend time, be that alone or with those you love, made all that more special by it’s positioning within these turquoise lagoons and your journey there onboard your boat.
With its century-old fishing culture, the coastal town of Olhão is certainly worth a visit during your time in the Ria Formosa. Berth in Porto Recreio de Olhão marina, in the heart of the largest fishing port in the Algarve and give in to the charismatic charm of this historic destination.
Authenticity is chief in this town with plenty of traditional gourmet offerings to satisfy your appetite, but with an array of modern, ‘alternative’ and contemporary cuisine satisfying the vegan or vegetarian aficionado, this town offers something for all food lovers. For the fish lover it is a must to feast on the freshly caught produce on the menu at ‘See Sea Sim’. This restaurant is frequented by locals and adored by visitors who both enjoy dining on some of the Algarve’s finest seafood dishes. When ticking off your Olhão to-do list, don’t forget the Municipal Market, located close to the waterfront on the street Avenida 5 de Outubro. Here, two impressive buildings, built in 1915 and renovated in 1997, occupy the waterfront. The distinct, red-brick architecture of these buildings contrast with the rest of the town, paying homage to Olhão’s history (we won’t give you a history lesson here, but well worth the google!).
A mecca for foodies, both the fruit and vegetable and fish market draws you in for a sensory experience. Eclectic stalls nestled within a maze of cobbled streets – this town oozes personality and flavours. Why not literally take stock and fill your galley with sensational local produce to impress all back on board.
When navigating the Ria Formosa, it is essential to drop the hook and admire Ilha Deserta. Located near Faro and the main shipping channel that enters the Ria Formosa, this is the only uninhabited island of the Ria Formosa. 7km of golden sands, longing to be explored by boat, with lots of sheltered areas to anchor and a tender service to take you ashore. Shake off those sandy toes and mosey your way along the wooden walkway to Estaminé restaurant. Set back on Deserta Island, Estaminé is a place of authentic gastronomy. If you are looking to feast on Algarvian classics during your voyage, then this is your place.
Where tradition meets the modern day, the interior decoration and the Algarvian menu hosts an array of seafood, including a selection of fresh fish to be chosen by you. As the only restaurant on the island, it feels rather special to be there gazing out to your boat on the glistening azure lagoon.
Now head back to your marina and plan your next trip back to the Ria Formosa to enjoy all of its delights by boat.
Be sure to pick up next weeks’ edition of The Portugal News when another part of the Algarve will be showcased by Sunseeker Portugal, or contact their friendly team today for more information or to discuss your boat requirements no matter how large or small. Their experienced team specialise in providing a full all-encompassing service for buyers of pre-owned motor boats of any size, brand or cost and as the exclusive seller of the Sunseeker, Axopar or Brabus Marine products they can discuss the benefits of owning these outstanding brands chosen by their experienced Portugal based team specifically to suit the conditions of the Atlantic coastline and the diverse and rewarding boating available.
Quote “Portugalnewsguadiana” to a member of the team when purchasing or chartering in August & September 2022 to receive a complimentary membership to the Sunseeker Deck Lounge in Vilamoura Marina. T & C’s apply and are provided on request.
Visit the Sunseeker Portugal website (www.sunseeker.pt ) to view videos of these outstanding boating locations.