Beaches in Olhao

Your guide to the best beaches along the coast of Olhao. Our Top beaches within the resort, Blue Flag, accessibility, LGBT & nudist friendly. Uncover beaches in Olhao with

Olhão is surrounded by ‘ilhas’, sand spit island beaches, which protect the marshy lagoon, Reserva Natural da Ria Formosa, an environmental and conservation area for birds and marine life. The two main Olhão beaches are Ilha da Culatra (‘Island of Culatra’) and Ilha da Armona (‘Island of Armona’) and they are served all year with regular ferry crossings from Olhão’s jetty, near to the municipal gardens. Ilha da Culatra is the bigger of the two islands and has permanent year round residents as well as summer visitors. The western end of Ilha da Culatra ,with the lighthouse, is known as Ilha do Farol. The next ilha just to the west of Farol is Ilha Deserta, a beautiful island with nothing more than a stretch of beautiful soft sand backed by vegetation and a single restaurant.

Many Algarve beaches are now classified as ‘Accessible Beaches’ meaning that not only do they provide ramps, footpaths and walkways directly to the sand but also meet certain criteria for restaurant tables, bar and counter heights. They also have first aid posts and disabled toilets and should be equipped with wheelchairs, walking aids and other equipment capable of being used in the sea as well as on the beach. We include which beaches have been awarded the ‘Accessible Beach’ flag , although depending on individual abilities you may just want to know that you can park nearby or that there are no steps involved.

Ilha da Culatra, Ilha do Farol and Ilha Deserta

Ilha do Farol is the western end of Ilha da Culatraand it has a small, permanent all year round, population which increases to around 3000 in the summer season! It is a lovely seaside community of mostly single storey houses; with oleanders lining the sandy pathways and bouganvileas climbing over the verandas. There are several restaurants and cafés dotted along the pathways from the quay.

The beach on the seaward side is another beautiful sandy bay and obviously popular both with the residents and people just visiting for a few hours.

The ferry runs to Farol and Culatra from Olhão port throughout the year, but frequencies are reduced in the winter months to only 4 per day, compared to 12 or 13 in the peak summer months.

From Farol you can go to the uninhabited Ilha Deserta by water taxi. Ilha Deserta has just one very popular restaurant on it (“Restaurante O Estaminé” offering traditional flavours from the Atlantic and Ria Formosa; Tel: 917811856) – if you want to lunch there it is probably best to book a table before or as soon as you arrive on the ilha! The beach on the seaward side is a beautiful sandy bay, just a couple of minutes walk from the quay.

There is a small area of sunbeds for hire, but most people seem to take their own sunshades and their own refreshments to enjoy a quiet few hours on this very peaceful ilha..

If you want a very quiet, relaxed day on the beach and nothing else, then Deserta is just the place; if you like to wander around and explore and have a choice of places to eat and drink, as well as having a beautiful beach, then Ilha da Culatra is the place for you. These Olhão beaches are both supervised during the season.

Ilha da Armona

Ilha da Armona is the closest of the Olhão beaches and is about a 10 minute ferry ride. There is a collection of holiday chalets, a handful of restaurants – one of which is open all year – and a beach on the seaward side of beautiful, white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. The water on the land side of the ilha is quite shallow at low tide and rather warmer than the atlantic side!

Olhao Beach Flag Safety

To stay safe on Algarve beaches, always pay attention to the beach flags so see whether or not it is safe to swim or if the beach is being attended by a lifeguard.

    Swimming permitted

    Swimming forbidden

    Swimming & entering the water forbidden

    Beach temporarily unattended


    Algarve Blue Flag beaches

    The Algarve boasts some of the best beaches in the world, and many have been given the official Blue Flag stamp of approval from the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) organisation. Blue Flag works towards sustainable development at beaches and marinas through publicly awarding beaches and marinas with their exclusive eco-label if they meet strict criteria regarding water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety and other services. Blue Flag also accredit beaches and marinas that are suitable for wheelchair access.

    To find out if Vilamoura Beach and other nearby beaches in the “Loulé” municipality have got the award this year, see Blue Flag – Algarve Beaches & Marinas!

      Nearby Blue Flag beaches

      • Albufeira: Arrifes, Aveiros, Belharucas, Castelo, Coelha, Evaristo, Falésia Acoteias, Falésia Alfamar, Galé-Leste, Galé-Oeste, Manuel Lourenço, Maria Luísa, Olhos d’Água, Oura, Oura-Leste, Rocha Baixinha-Nascente, Rocha Baixinha-Poente, S. Rafael, Salgados, Santa Eulália.
      • Aljezur: Arrifana, Monte Clérigo, Odeceixe-Mar
      • Faro: Barreta, Culatra-Mar, Faro-Mar, Ilha do Farol-Mar
      • Lagoa: Caneiros, Carvoerio, Ferragudo (Praia Grande), Senhora da Rocha, Vale Centeanes, Vale do Olivial.
      • Lagos: Batata, Camilo, Dona Ana, Luz, Meia Praia, Porto de Mós.
      • Loule: Ancão, Garrão Nascente, Garrão Poente, Loulé Velho, Quarteira, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, Vilamoura.
      • Olhao: Armona-Mar, Fuseta-Ria.
      • Portimao: Alvor Nascente – Três Irmãos, Alvor Poente, Rocha, Três Castelos, Vau.
      • Silves: Armação de Pêra, Praia Grande Poente.
      • Tavira: Barril, Cabanas-Mar, Ilha de Tavira-Mar, Terra Estreita.
      • Vila do Bispo: Almádena-Cabanas Velhas, Burgau, Castelejo, Cordoama, Ingrina, Mareta, Martinhal, Salema, Zavial.
      • Vila Real de Santo António:Lota, Manta Rota, Monte Gordo, Santo António.

      “Accessible Beaches” in the Algarve

      What do we mean when we talk about beaches being classed as an “Accessible Beach”? Well, along with many other Algarve beaches, this means that not only do they provide ramps, footpaths and walkways directly to the sand but facilities also meet certain other criteria for disable people, for example, for restaurant tables, bar and counter heights. They also have first aid posts and disabled toilets and should be equipped with wheelchairs, walking aids and other equipment capable of being used in the sea as well as on the beach. So if you see the “Accessible Beach” flag flying above Algarve beaches, you know that they have all the facilities to ensure a great day at the beach!

      Popular activities here in Olhao