What better way to visit the islands of the Ria Formosa than with Tours Ria Formosa on their glass-bottomed boat?
Last month we were kindly invited by Tours Ria Formosa to join them on their glass-bottom boat for a tour visiting 4 of the islands near to Olhão on the Ria Formosa. The tour includes a visit to the islands of Farol, Culatra, Deserta and Armona.
Our guide was the delightful and very knowledgable Esmeralda Costa, a qualified Marine biologist who studied here for her degree in 1988 and decided to make it her permanent home. Esmeralda has learned a lot from the real fishermen living and working in Olhão and has discovered a number of new species of Rays and Sharks. She can speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
The island tours are made on either the glass-bottomed boat or a typical fishing boat.
Each island has its own individual character. Culatra is occupied solely by fishermen and their families. It has a church, a school and a few restaurants and bars. Houses have a very eclectic feel and the whole island is alive and working continuously.
Deserta is completely different. As the name suggests, it is totally deserted. No bars, cafes or restaurants, just soft white sands with beautiful, crystal clear water. Close your eyes and you’ll hear the nothing but the water and birds… total paradise. We were provided with a snorkel and enjoyed a swim in the cool sea and even spotted a Jellyfish. As ever, Esmerelda was there to keep us informed on the types of sea creatures we should look out for.
We then hopped back on the boat and left for the island of Armona which couldn’t have been more different. Much more touristic with a variety of houses in all shapes and sizes. Houses with gardens that are manicured and there are quite a few more bars and restaurants compared to Culatra. After a short time there it was back to the dock in Olhão, having had a delightful trip, enjoyed by everyone, young and old.
Tours Ria Formosa also offer Dolphin tours, Sea horse habitat visits, private tours for weddings and anniversaries and bespoke tours by request. Their faster boat is used for the dolphin tours and they are currently awaiting the arrival of a new boat.
All tours leave from Olhão but Tours Ria Formosa can arrange transfers.
Tours start from only 15 euros and offer great value for money.
The 4 Island tour departs at 11.30 and lasts for 5 hours, or 4 o’clock which lasts 4 hours. There is also an option to visit only two of the Islands.