A couple of miles off the Faro coast in the Algarve lies one of the most enchanting and singularly beautiful beach destinations in the whole of southern Portugal, an unoccupied spit of sand officially called the Ilha da Barreta but known more affectionately by locals as the Ilha Deserta (Desert Island).
This is the most projecting part of south-west Europe’s sun-drenched coastline and in consequence is right on the route of migrant birds, extraordinary numbers of which can be seen passing along near the shore both in spring and autumn, most usually at dusk or early morning.
The Ilha Deserta’s beach carries the coveted Blue Flag and boasts a wide range of beach services and facilities during the bathing season, including sun loungers, pedal boats and sun shades under the comforting gaze of an experienced lifeguard.
Boats depart to the island from the Porta Nova jetty in Faro several times a day throughout the long summer season.
With a good selection of fresh fish and seafood dishes on the menu, the island is also popular for its excellent restaurant, an ecologically-friendly all-wooden establishment that powers its kitchens with solar energy available all year round.
Passing along shimmering channels between sandy islets, a boat trip to Ilha Deserta is an exhilarating experience during which visitors can spot many species of rare bird such as the sacred ibis, brant goose and flamingo.
Comprising the southernmost section of the Ria Formosa wetlands, this idyllic hideaway is one of the more accessible parts of an eleven-kilometre stretch of fine, golden sands where breathtaking scenery is all around and privacy is guaranteed, even during the high season.