One minute you are in Faro or Olhao, Portugal. About 20 minutes later you are at the Ilha da Culatra or Culatra Island as it is called in English. You can get to the island from Faro (during summer) or from Olhao – all year round, but Olhao is better. The city disappears and an island appears. It’s like your own piece of paradise!
Culatra Island – Ilha da Culatra
The island is part of the Ria Formosa natural park and the beach stretches all around the island. Be prepared to travel back in time because on Culatra Island there are no paved roads. There are also no cars on the island so the only way to get around is by foot. Culatra by itself is an old fishing village and you see that right away once you enter the harbor of the island.
Fishermen are working with their nets. Small boats are up on land, sometimes due to the low tide and there are not to many shops or cafés here. However, you come to Culatra mostly for the amazing beaches!
Getting to Culatra and Farol Island
So just to straighten things out (that was not clear to us). Culatra and Farol are the same Island. Culatra is the name of the whole island and Farol is the name of the city that is located on the island. So when you buy your ferry ticket to Culatra or Farol – you can get of at Culatra and then walk to Farol and take the ferry back from there.
The ferry takes about 20 minutes and it is a nice ride to get there. Once you get to the island you can just enjoy yourself – stroll around, walk the pathway to the beach or eat clams at one of the only restaurants in Culatra.
Schedule for the ferry to Culatra and Farol 2018
The timetable for the Ferry from Farol will be online (http://www.silnido.com/index.php/silnido-faro) in July when the ferry starts running that route. However, there is a company in the harbor of Faro that will provide transportation to Culatra and Farol all year round!
People digging for clams at low tide
You don’t have to be on Culatra Island to see people looking for clams. All over Olhao, Ria Formosa and the beaches you can see people during low tide – looking for different kind of clams. However, on Ilha Da Culatra there were a lot of people out looking for the clams. Some of them were out and digging with a small rake. It looked really hard for the back because they were all bent over.
Another way was to have a net dragged in the water. The net was somehow connected to the waist of the person and he moved around in the water. I got so curious so that I had to take a closer look at what they were searching for and yes – it was different kinds of clams. We also decided that this was the perfect place to order a plate of clams at the restaurant!
This is one of the restaurants that are on the Island of Culatra. We wanted to try the clams and this place was serving them. The staff was super friendly and the clams were really good. They tasted like mussels (the small once). They were made in some wine sauce and butter – with garlic that we LOVE!
The clams were 10 euros and the bread was 2 euros per person. The bread was put on the table so we thought that it was included – that was not the case. However, we got to finish our meal with Beirao (a Portuguese liqueur) that was on the house! You can buy the clams in the store to and make them yourself! Good to know!
What to do on Culatra Island
People come to this island mostly for the beautiful beach. It is truly amazing. The sand is hard and compact but nice and in the perfect color. The only thing that I felt was missing was horses and full speed on the beach! But we also enjoyed the walk to the beach. We walked on a wooden pathway for about 15 minutes and it was a really nice walk. We didn’t know what to expect from the beach so this was a perfect surprise!
I can imagine that this beach is packed with people during the summer. We almost had the whole beach to ourselves and it was really nice. From the beach, you can also see Farol lighthouse. And it is walking distance to get there. It is a nice walk because you can stay on the beach all the time. Walk with your feet in the water and look at the amazing shells that are washed up on land.
The city of Farol
Farol is the more touristy place on the island. It is a small town that is quaint and nice. There is a lighthouse that you can climb and then you can see parts of the Island from above. On this part of the Island, you have more restaurants to choose from (compared to Culatra). The walk to the beach from Farol is also really nice.
There are a lot of small houses where the fishermen on the island live. We heard that although the island is a fishermen island – most of the fish is transported from the island and end up at the market in Olhao.
Information about Culatra Island and Farol
Ticket price: 1,86 euro for a one way ticket.
Ferry timetable: See the list above in the post.