Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

Every year I go to Portugal and it’s definitely my happy place.  I love the beaches, restaurants, sea and sun and we often spend days on the beach but sometimes I like to do a day-trip to see a bit more of what this beautiful country has to offer.  Ilha Deserta is one of the Faro Islands and it’s the only uninhabited one.  Everybody that goes there on the ferry, leaves on the ferry at the end of the day.  There are no houses, just one restaurant so it’s a very peaceful, idyllic location.  It’s part of a natural reserve and this means that it’s kept perfectly preserved so it’s definitely an eco-friendly day out if you’re into green tourism!

Getting to Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta is so easy to get to.  You head to the marina in Faro and then you have three options.  The cheapest is to take one of the daily ferries for €10 return.  The ride to Ilha Deserta lasts about 30 minutes and goes about 5 or 6 times a day from the Porto Nova Pier.

Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores
Mum & I taking selfies on the ferry!

Ferry Schedule:

Departures:  10:00, 11:30, 13:15, 15:00, 16:45, 18:15
Returns:  10:45, 12:45, 14:30, 16:00, 17:30, 19:00

For €30 you can travel to the island in a guided catamaran which includes a wildlife tour of the Ria Formosa.  The tour guide will explain to you all about the Ria Formosa (the National Park that you will be travelling through), the birdlife and wildlife and it is a great way to see a bit more of the area.  It lasts about 1hr 15mins and departs daily at 11.30 and 15.00 – then you just get the standard ferry back.Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores

The third option is to hire a water taxi which are always available at the marina.  They usually have a phone number on them somewhere which you call, and the driver comes to find you. This costs about €50 and is obviously the most expensive option but much speedier.  The Ilha Deserta can be reached in about 10-15 minutes!  The price isn’t so bad if there’s a few of you to share it with!Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores

What to do on Ilha Deserta

Once you’re on the island, the itinerary is up to you.  I’ve never walked all the way round it (my plan for this summer) but the perimeter is an 11km long stretch of white sands so a very leisurely walk around the island should take no more than an hour and a half or two hours!  You can walk to the lighthouse, swim in the sea, lie on the beach and read a book.

There is nothing to entertain you as such, no watersports etc but isn’t that the point of a deserted island?  It’s just a chance to lie back and completely relax.  Being part of the Ria Formosa National Park there is also plenty of wildlife to spot.  There are beds and sunshades that you can hire if you need a break from the sun and the beaches are always empty and quiet as the only way on and off are via the ferries which limit the number of visitors.Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores

There’s one restaurant on the island, Estamine Restaurant where the menu is mix of Algarvian Specialities.  From whole fresh fish to Cataplana (an Algarvian Fish Stew) to Clams Bulhao Patao and Portuguese Black Pork.  Plenty of choice for everyone and the food was delicious. I love the air-dried Tuna Carpaccio, and last time we went we ordered a huge freshly grilled fish between 5 of us!  Delicious!

The eco-friendly vibe continues here as the whole restaurant is run on solar power!  Because it’s the only one on Ilha Deserta you probably need to book as it can get quite busy (+351 917 811 856.)…or you could always just bring a picnic!

Ilha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores
Estamine Restaurant

Make sure you don’t miss the last ferry back or you’re stuck on Ilha Deserta all night!!

Pin it for laterIlha Deserta, Faro, Algarve, Portugal by Emma Eats & Explores

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    My brother and his wife spent some time in Portugal a couple of years ago and they also loved it. It is on my bucket list!

  2. This part of Portugal looks awesome!! I have been thinking about it as a potential honeymoon destination, so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.
    Cheers, Sarah Camille

  3. Looks amazing! Great beaches, great food….I’m there!

  4. Chel says:

    Great tips! This location looks beautiful! I’ve always wanted to go to Portugal

  5. amandakrill says:

    Gorgeous!! I’m not sure I’d be all that upset about getting stuck there all night…lol

  6. Natalie says:

    Oh wow! This looks like the perfect getaway! I think I could be very, very happy with several days here! 🙂

  7. brepeablog says:

    Now that looks like the perfect place to get away from it all!

  8. Love this! Portugal is on my bucket list!!

  9. trmeson says:

    Looks like a ice place to visit. If I can manage to raise the funds to travel again, I might check the place out.

  10. Allyson says:

    I have been so itching to go on a vacation, this made me seriously consider Portugal as one of the destinations for our trip!! Thanks for the information!

  11. Oh cool! I might go there this year too, still have to book though. Now I have a few more ideas 🙂 I love that beach! X

  12. I love Portugal! I’ve heard so much about this beach I’m bummed I missed it while I was there, guess I’ll have to go back!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      definitely – great excuse to return!

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