My first article on Faro was an overall guide to the city, but I couldn’t get to all the aspects that make my hometown great, and one of them is the beach. So on this article I’m just going to show you what you can expect on a normal day at the Island of Faro. This beach is not as adorned or crowded as some others in Algarve, and still it is one of my favorite destinations to spend the summer! I guess there is no place like home.
Faro’s beach isn't located in the city like the ones in Albufeira, Vilamoura or Quarteira, since Faro, although located near the coastline doesn’t have a beach because of Ria Formosa; a nature reserve that occupies all of Faro’s coast, it’s a swampy, green and rich ecosystem that ebbs and flows with the tides, some times exposing land masses when the tide is low, or submerging them when it rises, thus creating a series of islands and dunes that constitute the local beaches. But the Island of Faro isn’t really an island, it’s actually a peninsula, but depending one the tide, its connection to mainland is severed, living only the huge sand strip that makes the beach. But unlike the other “islands”, Faro’s is accessible not just by ferryboat, but by car and buses too.
Faro Beach is thin, offering two sides, the one bathed in Ria Formosa’s water and the other bathed by the ocean, both bodies of water meet at the end of the beach, on what is called Barrinha (which I’ll elaborate more on the future).
Some people swim in Ria Formosa, but it is mainly used to dock boats, while the main beach itself is on the side of the ocean, this is where most people bathe and still it is relatively calm, this beach doesn’t become overcrowded and chaotic as some others since a big chuck of it’s attendants are locals or some foreigners that arrived from the airport right next to the beach. But it still can be a hassle to park, so be prepared! (or go by bus or boat). All through the island you'll find restaurants, cafés and some small businesses, on the left side you’ll see a big water container, that marks the location of the Camping Site, although it is going through some changes and is now mainly serving more as a car or caravan parking lot, so don’t expect to be able to camp if your bringing just a tent. The slim yet long nature of the beach is great for walks, so be sure to take some time to walk a little to Barrinha (to the left) and pick up some of the shells that come ashore (careful not to step on any broken shells!). What I like the most about this beach is that the combination of all it’s attributes really adds up to a very relaxing experience, and that’s really all you need on summer vacation!
The access to the beach by car is made through an old and small bridge, so unfortunately what usually happens in the time where most people arrive, between 10 pm and midday, the traffic can get a bit jammed, so be sure to arrive early! And the same applies when leaving the island! About the parking, like I said earlier, it tends to get full very quickly, even with the Camping Site providing some additional parking space, but recently it was built a parking area just before the bridge to enter the island, so, if you don’t mind walking the whole bridge, you may find a parking space there, otherwise is best just to take the bus or the ferry. A suggestion if you’re looking for something to eat is the restaurant Roque, a bit on the right side of the island, there are many good ones there, but this is just my personal favorite. Lastly, be careful when the tide is low, sometimes a small fish called Peixe-Aranha (Weevers) sting people by hiding in the soft sand, so be careful where you step, there have been fewer cases in Faro Beach along the years and the sting, although painful, isn’t near fatal or anything like that, and the lifeguards normally know how to treat it. (and always apply sun screen)
I hope this sparked your interest! I’ll definitely write much more about the island and Faro itself, expect one just on Ria Formosa very soon! And for another article on Faro’s beach, and other neighboring beaches, be sure to check out this article from fellow editor Vasco, as well as the rest of his wonderful series on the beaches of Algarve.
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