Island boat tour from Olhão

We went on an Island boat tour from Olhão

Island boat tour from Olhão to discover Ria Formosa

Lianne, responsible for the Spanish market and content/translations at SeaBookings, went on holidays in the Algarve and tried out this unique boat tour from Olhão to the Nature Park of Ria Formosa and shares her experience.

An Island boat tour from Olhão is great to discover Ria Formosa

This summer I decided I wanted to go and experience something else. I’ve been to Portugal many times, but I never saw Ria Formosa’s natural park.

It appears that you can do an island boat tour from Olhão to discover the Barrier Islands of the famous Ria Formosa

Olhão is situated in the South of Portugal, in the Algarve. Faro is only 20 minutes driving away. Just before you arrive at the airport of Faro you can already see the beautiful islands.

It looked so beautiful that I convinced my boyfriend to come along with me to do a nice island boat tour from Olhão. 

Isn’t this irresistible?

At 12h30 the tour would start at the Marina of Olhão. We got a clear description of where we had to be at the marina so it was very easy to find the boat.

The friendly guide named João gave us a warm welcome and asked us if we would like to get more information during the tour in English or Portuguese.

There were people on board who spoke both languages so it was no problem for him to give us a nice explanation in English and Portuguese.

Departing from Olhão we picked up more people along the way. We sailed through the big lagoon in front of Olhão along Deserta Island and explored Farol Island with its nice lighthouses.

During the boat trip, João told us more about the area and that we would stop for lunch at Culatra Fishermen’s Town in Culatra Island.

Sérgio has never done this trip before either and he is from the Algarve!

Culatra has only 1000 inhabitants and is interlaced with wooden walkways. Because there are no roads or vehicles, this is a unique place to be! Their main income is fishing and we got the opportunity to discover the island for 1.5 hours. 

Fresher than fresh!

If you want it is possible to walk to a beautiful beach (20 minutes walking), but we preferred to have a nice lunch to eat some fresh fish. João took us to a very good place where they caught the fish in the morning. It was delicious!

The scenery is simply paradise-like!

Once we finished our lunch, we walked through the streets of Culatra en then we headed back to the boat. The next stop was Armona Bay and Armona Island.

We stopped there for 30 minutes and decided to take a fresh dip in the ocean. It was very nice to cool down in the crystal clear waters because it was a hot day!

White sanded beaches all around the place!

We continued our boat tour to back to the Marina of Olhão and along the way, we saw the famous tuna factories. As well we were told that there is an area where you can observe seahorses.

In total this island boat tour from Olhão took 4 hours and we had an amazing time! Thank you very much, João for giving us more information about these beautiful landscapes in the Algarve!

Do you have more questions after reading about our this blog or are you looking for more tips to discover the beautiful islands of Ria Formosa? Please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]!

Things to do in Olhão

Things to do in Olhão: the must do’s

By Femke Irik, co-founder and experience-tester at SeaBookings. 

The Algarve is, in my opinion, the best region of Portugal for travel, especially for retirees. People may not think so but there are quite a few nice things to do in Olhão. I decided to share my favourite things to help you plan your holidays in Olhão.

Things to do in Olhão

The emblematic building of the Market of Olhão

Things to do in Olhão: the Olhão Market

The fishing vocation is very strong and Olhão is number 1. This makes the Olhão Market a must do on your holidays in Olhão.

The Olhão market is centuries old, located in a very beautiful and useful building.  It’s an amazing place to go to feel the Portuguese culture, architecture and lifestyle. There are several restaurant and bars in the area with stunning views over the Ria Formosa Nature Park.

In the Olhão market, you can find the freshest fish and vegetables. In my opinion, it’s the best place to buy fresh fish in the Algarve. The market is divided into 3 areas: the fish market, assorted meats, and one for the vegetable market.

On the vegetable market, you can buy fresh, organic and natural vegetables. The local farmers sell their vegetables and there is an explosion of typicality and fresh smells!

The markets are open every day from early in the morning till 1 or 2 pm. We recommend going on Saturday, as it’s the nicest and busiest day to feel the culture.

Fresher than this is impossible!

Fresher than this is impossible!

Things to do in Olhão: eat fish and seafood

The abundance of fish and seafood is combined with the Portuguese talent to turn them into absolutely amazing dishes makes this the place to go to taste the freshest fish. If you want to taste the real Portuguese dishes, you should have dinner at one of the restaurants in the area.

The best things to eat in Olhão, lunch or dinner will start with covert which includes bread, butter and some nice olives, sometimes even some local cheese or ham. As starters, what I recommend are the clams and mussels, fresher you won’t taste them. As the main dish, if you like fish, I would recommend sea bass (Robalo), octopus (Polvo), seabream (Dourada), sardines (Sardinhas) and horse mackerel (Carapaus). For the ones who prefer meat, I suggest a grilled meat dish (Grelhada Mista), which provides you with several kinds of meat

Some of the restaurants I recommend are:

  • In front of the fish market – Restaurante Prazeres
  • “Vai e Volta” – Fish dishes  – Largo do Gremio 2
  • Frango da Cidade – Rua Teofilo Braga 51 – For the best chicken in Olhão

Every year there is a seafood fair that is very successful in the region. On the seafood fair in Olhão, you can eat the best seafood and appreciate concerts from local singers every night. This year 2018, the seafood fair in Olhão will take place from the 10th to 15th of August.

The Ria Formosa is an amazing surrounding for fishing

The Ria Formosa is an amazing surrounding for fishing

Things to do in Olhão: visit Ria Formosa Nature Park

One thing to do you should definitely not miss is visiting the Ria Formosa. From Olhão, we provide several boat tours to explore the natural park of Ria Formosa.

The beautiful Ria Formosa is famous for the very specific habitat essential for many migratory species. I love this place, especially the tranquillity and silence it transmits.

One of the most famous islands of Ria Formosa is Ilha da Culatra,  where you can find amazing fishermen and local communities, restaurants and many things for kids to do and play. Nature and landscapes are paradisiacal. Together with the genuineness and typicality, you will feel welcomed by the local people.

dolphin watching from olhao

Dolphin watching is one of the best things to do in Olhão

Another popular Island is Ilha Deserta, far from the noise of the city, you can breathe the fresh air.  It’s a natural treasure in one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Portugal. An ideal place to walk in peace… to relax …  and do some sunbathing.

There are many ways to go to the islands, I recommend the private boat taxies, you can book them in advance, and agree on the best time for you and the tides. There are also several boat tours to explore the islands. Now the choice is up to you, do you want a quick boat tour or a full day, where there is time for a lunch at the Culatra island.

In Olhão, you can also do dolphin watching tours, they depart daily at 08:30. Don’t forget to book in advance, as these are quite popular. On the dolphin watching tours from Olhão, you will be searching for wild dolphins and observing them closely in their natural habitat.

All day tour - ria formosa - fuseta tour

The beach towns in Ria Formosa are very nice

Olhão is known for the authentic tourism, and with many things to do, it’s almost a must on your holidays in the Algarve. Let us know if you’ve got any further tips or need more information. We’re happy to help!