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Boat trips to Deserta and Farol Islands

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Important information:

• Bring plenty of water to drink to avoid dehydration.
• A rucksack or backpack is recommended to carry a small snack, sunglasses, hat, a good sun cream and a camera.
• Comfortable clothing and flat shoes recommended. A wind-stopper and a waterproof coat are useful, specially during the coldest period of the year.

  • Duration: 3H
  • Seats available: -
  • Min. capacity: 2

Ilha Deserta and Farol Island: a small group boat trip in Ria Formosa from Faro

This is a boat trip on a comfortable catamaran to discover the Ria Formosa Natural Park and visit the Deserta Island and Farol Island.

We depart from the Marina of Faro and/or Portas do Mar sailing slowly through the channels of the Ria Formosa to fully enjoy the beautiful landscape. Along the tour we will see birds like the Grey Heron, the White Stork and many other birds that use this area as a feeding habitat. As we approach the islands and beaches we see the light house of the Culatra Island where we make our first stop.

Looking around one can observe the hard work of the people in the oysters and clams farms. A closer look towards the coastline and you will notice the market of the city of Olhão - an important fishing town. Looking towards the ocean you will see one of the most important sea entrances of the Ria Formosa.

Our first stop is the (Lighthouse) Farol Island. Here you can enjoy a walk around the streets of this small but friendly community. When passing by the lighthouse, go on until the very end to admire an extensive beach of fine white sand washed by calm warm waters, here lies the most southern point of Portugal - the Santa Maria Cape.

We leave the Farol Island and make our second stop at the Deserta Island. This island is also known as Barreta Island. In this second stop you can choose to explore the fauna and flora of the island along an easy walk or simply enjoy the sunshine and bath in the clear waters of the beach.

On the trip back to Faro be enchanted by one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal – the Ria Formosa. 

Spoken languages:
  • en English

  • pt Portuguese

  • fr French

  • es Spanish


• 3h boat trip (includes a stop of 1 hour in Farol and 20 up to 30 minutes in Deserta)
• Life vests
• Local guide
• Live commentary on board



• Hotel pickup and drop-off
• Transportation to/from attractions
• Food and drinks
• Tips (Optional)
• All other extras


• A minimum of 2 adults per booking is required.
• A maximum of 11 people per booking.
• Child rate applies only when sharing with 2 paying adults.
• Children must be accompanied by an adult.
• May be operated by a multi-lingual guide.
• Wheelchair accessible.
• Subject to favorable weather conditions. If canceled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund.
• Safety comes first, please follow the instructions and recommendations of your skipper, especially those relating to safety issues.
• Trips may be amended due to weather conditions or the physical condition of the participants should our skippers deem this advisable.
• This is an activity subject to weather conditions. The decision to leave or return earlier than expected, due to unexpected weather conditions, is solely to the skipper.
• The schedules of departures and arrivals, the duration and itineraries of the activities are subject to change without previous notice due to security determined by the weather conditions, tides and/or other circumstances beyond our control.

Cancelation policy
  • Bookings of activities and/ or services may be done in a proper form on the website, by email, by phone, through authorized agents and/ or Formosamar, Lda Points of Sale.
  • For groups of 20 or more participants, bookings should be done as soon as possible and at least 24 hours prior to the date of activity and/ or service.
  • All bookings are subject to availability.

Cancellations and No Shows
  • Formosamar reserves the right to cancel the activity and/ or services by reasons which fall outside the responsibility of the company. We cannot be held responsible for  cancellations due to the following reasons: natural disasters, climate conditions, system failures or any other circumstances beyond the company's control and also whenever the safety and integrity of participants, equipment and/ or goods is at risk. The client will be fully refunded, without any compensation or indemnity.
  • The cancellation of an activity and/ or services by the participant may be done through a proper form on the website, by email or by phone up until 24 hours prior to the start of the activity and/ or services.
  • For groups of 10 or more participants, the cancellation of an activity and/ or services may be done through a proper form on the website, by email or by phone up until 48 hours prior to the start of the activity and/ or services.
  • If the cancellation does not comply with the requirements above, the activity and/ or service will be charged at the full rate.
  • Once the activity and/or service has started, with the agreement of the participants and the safety and integrity of participants, equipment and/ or goods is not at risk, in the event of a request from the participant(s) to stop or interrupt it due to wind, temperature, rainfall, waves or other factors beyond the company's control, no refund, indemnity or compensation will apply and the activity and/ or service will proceed its usual course.
  • In the case of equipment rental, cancellations should be done up until 24 hours prior to its start, otherwise it will be charged at the full rate. In case of deliberate cancellation by the client, Formosamar will charge the period of use of the equipment or its minimum rental period.
  • The rental and hire of equipment and/ or goods is subject to its own terms and conditions.
  • In the event of no show, the full amount charged is non-refundable.

Use of boats and/ or equipment
  • Formosamar reserves the right to change the boats and/or equipment to carry out the activity and/ or service, due to system failures or adverse weather conditions. In that case, another boat and/ or equipment will be used and we will charge the rate and/or prices previously agreed.
Meeting Point and Departure Time
  • The meeting point and the departure time are indicated on the voucher or on the booking confirmation document.
  • Delay of the participants may imply an exclusion from the activity. To prevent the latter from happening please be so kind to be at the designated meeting point on time. There is a maximum tolerance of 10 minutes.
  • Departure time is subject to changes due to weather conditions, system failures or any other other circumstances beyond the company's control.
  • Whenever a stop or free time is planned during the activity, the crew, skipper and/ or tour guide will inform you of the following location and time of departure. Please be at the location 5 minutes before the announced time of departure.
  • Formosamar reserves the right to suspend a participant from a activity if the times of departure are not respected. In this case no refund or compensation is available.
  • Formosamar reserves the right to suspend a participant from an activity and/ or service if the participant has no physical condition to carry it out or if the participant does not respect the safety recommendations and instructions.

Itineraries and information in website, catalogs, leaflets, brochures and other material
  • The itineraries and the exact timings at the several points of the activity and/ or service are only indicative. They are subject to change due to weather conditions and/ or the physical conditions of the participants and can be amended if the person representing Formosamar deem this advisable.
  • The schedules of departures and arrivals, durations and itineraries of the activities and/ or services are subject to change without prior notice due to safety and security determined by weather conditions, winds, tides and/or any other circumstances beyond the control of Formosamar, Lda.

Code of Conduct
  • Formosamar, Lda. promotes ecotourism activities and nature tours of natural, cultural and environmental interest. We expect our guests and participants to respect the visited natural areas and the local lifestyles. We respect and follow the guidelines of the ICNF's code of conduct and we reserve the right to suspend or cancel an activity if we find the participants' behavior is in conflict with this philosophy and code of conduct.

Photos and videos
  • During the course of our activities and/ or services we can take photos and videos to promote our company. If you do not want this information to be used, please be so kind to previously inform our staff.

  • Formosamar, Lda. has available a complaints book and reports directly to ASAE.

Licences and Insurances
  • Formosamar is a fully licensed company with the registration No. 123/2009 of the Tourism Board of Portugal.
  • Our activities are certified as Ecotourism by the ICNF - the Portuguese Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests.
  • We have all the mandatory insurance legislation.

Omission and other questions
  • Omissions and other questions not covered by these terms and conditions will be discussed with Formosamar and are subjected to the applicable Portuguese law.
what clients say

Had a real pleasant afternoon because of this trip! Our guide/Captain was 'Paolo': a very nice and fun man that made sure you felt included. He knew lots of stuff about the environment and he liked answering our questions! Ilha Deserta was so cool to see. Such a big space with very little human (1). The southernmost piece of Portugal is on there btw (sorry Paolo for spoiling). Ilha Farol is everything Ilha Deserta wasn't. It has lots of homes on it, there's a supermarket and a nice lighthouse. Both islands face the lagoon/Ria Formosa and the Ocean. Especially the ocean was amazing to see. If you're near Faro some day, make sure you sail the seas with these guys.

Ethan K

Me and the missus partook in a morning boat trip which took us out on a comfortable boat with large seats for the passengers. The guide was knowledgable with good humour. I didn't expect to see as much wildlife as we did. Alas, no Flamingos. We were taken on an extremely sunny (and windy) day, out to the edge of Ria Formosa, plentiful opportunity for photos and birdwatching if that is your thing. Plenty of fish to see and adequate time at the stops. I feel I got some decent photos and had a adventurous time. Me and the significant other even had a beautiful picnic on the beach of Farol Ilah, in the middle of December! I'd do it again!

Emily F

I took a boat trip with my four year old son, and we had such a great time! We went to two beautiful islands and had time to explore each, after seeing some migratory birds on the way there and back. It’s not something I usually do, but the price was reasonable, and I’m really glad we went. Susana was very helpful and friendly when she sold us our ticket and gave us the information, and she checked back with us to see if we enjoyed the trip when we returned. Our skipper Luis was lovely too - he was very personable and was especially kind to my son, who thought he was amazing! I would definitely recommend this experience.

Rachel M

Thank you for a lovely warm guided boat trip today comfy boats friendly guide and stop offs at the islands were great would recommend if you’re in Faro! Worth it!

Kate B

We went on the 3 hour Desert Island and Farol Tour. Both the staff on shore and the skipper on the boat were excellent - really helpful and knowledgeable. They gave us some really good tips about where we could go to see flamingos. The boat is really comfortable - do wrap up though, it gets chilly on the water. The desert island was a particular highlight.

Karen B

We highly recommend this trip. The boat was extremely comfortable. The guide was excellent and the islands we visited were great. We would recommend taking some nice sarnies and having a drink at one of the bars or restaurants.


Fantastic informative trip - we saw lots of birds thanks to our excellent guide Francesco and enjoyed the time ashore on Ila Deserta and Farol. We can definitely recommend this trip to appreciate the Ria Formosa.


We took this trip on a sunny day on a comfortable catamaran with Patricia as our guide. She was very knowledgeable about the area and also pointed out many of the numerous species of birds that we encountered on our journey. Farol Island was especially lovely and I would also like to explore Deserta in more detail in the future.

Eddy C

My wife and decided to do Boat trip around and about Faro, It was Excellent, the Boat was of a New Design, large and comfortable enough to relax into its seats and enjoy the view, the commontaries and stories from the Guides, who live around this area and know it very well. Luis was an Excellent guide and spoke serveral languages well enough for you to get the Jist of what he telling you !!


Fell in love with the two islands! Amazing beach and calm clean sea. Would have loved to stay for hours on both instead of one hour only. So beautiful! Best tour I did in South Portugal! Highly recommend it. Not for the birds, only saw one but the boat trip itself and the two islands, so glad I saw both, not reachable by car, so even more special for it.


Myself and my partner attended the tour yesterday and had Patricia as our guide. Patricia was excellent and very informative and funny throughout the whole trip. Well worth the money

Oscar N

its was great, we took the 3 hours tour. nice not to crowded boat. so swimming , on the deserted island. birdwatching and visited a nice little restaurant on the second island

Russell B

Superb tour. Luis was a great guide. Knowledgable and took time explain and answer any questions. Great value, comfortable and safe way to see the national park of Ria Formosa. Try to book a time when the tide is changing high to low so you can see the changes and more wildlife arrives at low tide

Mark P

Tour cost €25 each and was well worth it. Very good guide / skipper. Visited Ilha Deserta and Ilha Farol. First one is practically deserted. Beautiful sandy beaches on the lagoon side. Water is so clean. Ilha Farol is an island full of holiday homes. Quiet when we were there, and some nice beaches too. Few cafes and restaurants for snacks. Very peaceful few hours, quite relaxing.


We had a wonderful time learning about Faro, the Ria Formosa Park, and the wildlife of the area. Our guide, Fernando, shared lots of interesting information about natural habitats of birds and fish as well as stories about the area and its history. It was very cool to see the town from another vantage point. The stops at the two islands was a nice way to get all the way out to see the Atlantic. Fernando even made a special stop so we could see flamingoes in the wild. Excellent way to spend an afternoon.


The Ria Formosa Nature trip is fantastic and the service is excellent. The Katamaran is very comfortable.

Broaden Your Horizons

We took this trip on a sunny day on a comfortable catamaran with Patricia as our guide. She was very knowledgeable about the area and also pointed out many of the numerous species of birds that we encountered on our journey. Farol Island was especially lovely and I would also like to explore Deserta in more detail in the future.


Myself and my partner attended the tour yesterday and had Patricia as our guide. Patricia was excellent and very informative and funny throughout the whole trip. Well worth the money


We went on the 3hr Desert Island and Farol Tour. The boat trip was great and we were really happy we chose it! The boat driver was really knowledgable on the birds, wildlife and ecology of the Ria Formosa National Park. He made lots of short stops to explain what birds and crabs we were looking at. We stopped for 0.5hrs on the deserted island and for 1hr on the island of Farol which gave us enough time for a walk about and to get something to eat. Really happy we went on this tour. Good value for money for a 3hr boat trip. Highly recommend.


The Ria Formosa Nature trip is fantastic and the service is excellent. The Katamaran is very comfortable.

francisco s

Another fabulous day spent in the Ria Formosa onboard the great catamarans from this company. Ideal to cruise around this beautiful wild area, swim on a deserted beach, have a relaxed lunch in one of the restaurants around and eat the freshest fish you will ever get your hands on. Estamine especially recommended in Ilha Deserta. The crew is extra friendly (Francisco was the skipper), professional and aiming to please. Price acessible and many options offered. You haven't visited the Algarve until you experience this.

Kalina D

We had really good time. Our tour guide with abundance of knowledge about the fauna that inhabites the area and easy to talk to on other topics. Very correct and friendly service. Thank you!


We found this tour through its 5 star review and were not disappointed. Our warm & informative guide had an excellent understanding of the ecology of this beautiful area & went to great trouble to identify local marine & birdlife. The motorised catamaran (keep in mind that this is not a sailing catamaran) was very comfortable snd we spent around 30 minutes wandering the Desert Island (‘Ilha Desertas’) and another hour on Ilha Do Farol (‘Lighthouse Island). Pedro provided an opportunity to briefly drive the boat on the return trip which my partner happily accepted. This tour provided an excellent experience of the Ria Formosa & is highly recommended.


Fun & Informative For the Whole Family I booked with Formosasamar only 2 hours in advance, for the 3 hour Deserta Island and Farol trip. The catamaran boat was quite comfortable, providing both shade and a smooth ride. Captain Luís was wonderful, pointing out all kinds of interesting nautical features, and also showing us the birds we passed on is multilingual chart. Captain Luís was great with the young child on board, and was super helpful in ensuring everyone was comfortable and clean when going to and from each island. He answered very insightfully a lot of questions about sailing, navigation, and the Formosa Park. I won't review reach island, as they have their own separate sections here on TripAdvisor. If you're looking for a general tour of the Faro area islands, this is a great choice. Bring sunscreen and flip flop sandals! Seasickness: I'm prone to seasickness, but I did not feel it at all on this trip. The boat was slow and waters were very calm.

Chris D

Boat trip to Ilha Deserta & Ihla da Farol. Excellent trip. Timing important as we were on a rising tide which pushed all the waterbirds into flocks and to roosting sites. Our guide to the time to take us to where the birds were gathering and was very informative about the landscape, wildlife and history. The catamaran vessel was execellent getting us to intersting places. I would have probably preferred more time on Ihla Deserta but could see that more time on Farol would be better for the majority. Beautiful beach on Ihla Deserta.

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