Visit the Ilha Deserta – The deserted Island outside of Faro

Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal
The first word that comes to mind is paradise. And for sure you can say that Ilha deserta is a part of Paradise. The island is also called Barreta and it is a part of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. And this is also the place where you can find the Southernmost point of Portugal – Cabo Santa Maria.

Barreta Island – A piece of paradise

There is a saying in Swedish that a “dear child has many names” and this is a great saying for this island. Ilha Deserta, Deserted Island, Barreta, Ilha de Barreta – a lot of different names but all the same island. This is the only island in the Ria Formosa that is uninhabited. The only big house on the island is a restaurant and we got the information that the people that work there leave the island in the evening and that the island really gets deserted.

Deserted or not, we were not so sure because we found a small “hut” and we both felt like there were people living there. But I’m not sure and the island prides itself on being uninhabited so we will have to trust that.
Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

The beach on Ilha Deserta

The beaches on the island stretch for about eleven kilometers. It is said to be exceptionally clean water here and that it is a perfect place to come to find your part of paradise. However, when we talked to the staff that worked on the boats taking us to the island they said that it gets to warm here in the summer and that you don’t have any place to find shade.

Did you know that there is a nudist beach on the island? And that it is one of few beaches in Portugal that is officially classified as a naturist beach? Well, now you know!

But don’t go to the island and throw your clothes off, it is not allowed everywhere on the island. You have to walk to the western side of the island before you can get comfortable. It takes about 30 minutes from where the boat leaves you when you arrive.
Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Walk around the island on footbridges

You can stroll around on the beaches or you can walk on a long great path made out of footbridges. We ended up walking parts of the island on the beach and parts of them on the paths. This place is very tranquil and peaceful. The whole walk around the island feels like part of a meditation.

For me that is a really big Pokemon Go nerd – I was in heaven because the island was filled with the tiny bird “Torchic” that was pretty new to the game when we visited the island. And because you could evolve the bird twice. So I caught at least ten of them during our walk!
Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

The southernmost point of Portugal

About two kilometers from where the ferry leaves, you will find yourself at the southernmost point of Portugal. There is a wooden structure that marks the place. By the structure, you can also see how far you are from other cities around the world.

I loved the wooden structure but I felt that it was a bit neglected. Some of the wooden planks had fallen and it feels like the place would need some love. I don’t mean that they shall redo it. I like the roughness of the planks and the wooden pillar. But I believe that it might fall apart soon if they don’t look after it.
Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

What to do on Ilha Deserta

  • Walk with your feet in the white sand and look at all the shells at the beach. (There are a lot of shells on some parts of the beach.)
  • Take a swim in the ocean. Ilha Deserta has really clean and clear water.
  • Check out the southernmost point of Portugal.
  • Walk to the small pier on the island and have a look.
  • Walk on the footbridges and enjoy life.
  • Visit the restaurant and grab a bite to eat or something to drink. A cool thing is that the restaurant runs on solar power.

Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Facilities on Ilha Deserta

Even though this is an uninhabited island, there are still some facilities that you can use while there. Yes, you need to bring your own sunscreen but you can rent chairs. Stuff like that!

  • Restaurant: Yes one on the whole island.
  • Toilet: Yes
  • Showers: Are available in the restaurant.
  • Sunbeds: Yes.
  • Offering water sports: No.
  • Lifeguards: Yes. During the summer there are lifeguards.
  • Parking: No. There are no cars on the island.

Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Getting to Ilha Deserta

You get to the island by taking a ferry boat or a speedboat. The company that runs the route are called Animaris. If you want you can also get a water taxi but that will cost a lot more. You can buy your tickets near Faro Old Town Sea Gate, Close to Faros Marina or at their website

Depending on the season the boats often leave Faro every half hour. For the ferry boat, you pay 5:- euro per person one way. Their ferry boats are awesome – they look like a blue and white zebra. With the ferry boat, it takes about 45 minutes to get to the island. But it is a very nice ride out there. You cruise along the Ria Formosa and just relax.

If you take the speedboat it takes about 15 – 20 minutes and it costs 10:- euro one way per person. We decided to take the ferry and not the speedboat because we were not in a hurry.

You might also be interested in reading about our visit to Culatra Island and Farol.


Ilha deserta in Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal
Don’t miss out on your complete guide to Faro, Portugal


  1. Adreena

    I found this SO useful on my trip and built my itinerary around it. Thank you!

    • Daniel Majak

      So glad you liked it! Thank you for reading!


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