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The Best Olhão Beaches to Relax and Swim

All the best Olhão beaches are on islands just off the main coastline because there are no beaches in Olhão itself. But there are regular boat and ferry services going to the islands with the beaches on them.

I visited most islands on a boat tour from Olhão to see the different islands. This is a great option if you want to visit different places in one day. My favourite island was Armona Island because of its laid-back atmosphere.

But I also really enjoyed my time on Praia do Farol with the scenic lighthouse and the beach bar selling vegan ice cream.

Armona Island

A path surrounded by white houses and plants on Armona Island
The biggest “street” on Armona Island

Armona Island is a great example of unspoiled beauty in the Algarve region. There are almost no permanent residents but it’s a very popular beach destination and for good reason.

When I visited on a boat tour it was very quiet but the boat captain said that it’s very unusually quiet. So it might be not as quiet and peaceful during peak season.

When the ferry stopped and a LOT of people got out and they all headed along the “main street” which is basically a little bigger path to the beach I got a glimpse of what it must look like in summer. 

The island is so idyllic with its small bungalows and the endless beach on the coast. It’s so idyllic and picturesque that I saw multiple people doing oil paintings of the scenery. Seriously, I’ve never ever been anywhere where so many people did paintings. 

1. Ilha de Armona

A beach with a separated part of the ocean next to some boats at Ilha da Armona
The fenced in swimming area next to the harbour

Ilha de Armona is the fishing village on the west side of Armona Island. It’s a very picturesque small holiday village with a few restaurants and a shop.

If you want to spend the night on Armona Island Ilha de Armona has the only options to do so. You can rent a traditional bungalow.

The little harbour is located next to the village and just next to the pier is a bay for swimming. It’s a relatively small swimming area next to the boats but you’re facing the Ria Formosa and not the Atlantic Ocean. That’s why there are fewer waves and the water is a bit warmer.

And I was really surprised by how beautiful a beach next to the harbour can be. Okay, maybe “harbour” is an exaggeration anyway for the pier with some small boats.

Amenities on Ilha de Armona

Toilets: Yes

Sun lounges to rent: No

Beach bar/shop: Yes

2. Praia da Armona (Mar)

Two people walking on a beach
Just keep walking until you find a quiet spot

The main beach for swimming and relaxing near Ilha de Armona is Praia da Armona. To reach this beach, you just follow the main path to the other side of the island which is about a 20-minute walk.

Praia da Armona faces the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful sandy beach stretches on for miles. While the amenities are all grouped together, you can easily walk further away if you’re looking for a quiet spot.

Amenities on Praia da Armona (Mar)

Toilets: Yes

Sun lounges to rent: Yes

Beach bar/shop: Yes

Lifeguards: Yes

3. Praia da Fuseta (Mar)

A beach with some sun lounges and lifeguard flags at Praia da Fuseta Mar
Choose your favourite spot at this very long beach

On the east end of Armona Island is Praia da Fuseta (Mar), which is one of the two beaches in Fuseta in the Algarve. Since the beach is so close to Fuseta, the island is sometimes referred to as Fuseta Island but it’s still Armona Island.

This beach is probably the most awkward to get to from Olhão since it’s quite far away, but in case you find yourself ever in Fuseta it’s just a short ferry ride away.

I visited this beach from Fuseta and not from Olhão. It’s the most beautiful beach in Fuseta and it’s still a beach near Olhão.

Amenities on Praia da Fuseta (Mar)

Toilets: Yes

Sun lounges to rent: Yes

Beach bar/shop: Yes

Lifeguards: Yes

Culatra Island

Culatra is the most popular destination for beach goers from Olhão. The village, Ilha da Culatra, where all the ships drop off people is in the middle of the island facing mainland Portugal.

It’s a very traditional fishing village. In other words, it’s a great place to go for food if you’re not vegan. I left the fishy smell behind me and headed straight for the beautiful beaches.

From Ilha da Culatra you can only walk to Praia da Culatra. To get to the other two beaches on the island, you need a boat to take you there. Well, I suppose you could walk but it would take hours.

4. Praia da Culatra 

A wooden path on a white beach at Praia da Culatra
Even at the popular Praia da Culatra it’s easy to find a quiet spot because the beach is so long

Walking from the harbour at Ilha da Culatra to the beach took me longer than expected, it took me about 25 min from the boat to the beach. 

At the beach there are two small bars selling drinks and ice cream. And you can rent sun lounges for a fee or just lay on the sand for free.

Even though it’s such a popular beach near Olhão, when I visited it wasn’t that busy at all. And since the beach is so big I can imagine that even when there are more people you might be able to find a more quiet spot.

Amenities on Praia da Culatra 

Toilets: Yes

Sun lounges to rent: Yes

Beach bar/shop: Yes

Lifeguards: Yes

5. Ponta do Farol – Desert beach

A beach and the ocean with very shallow water; one of the most beautiful Olhao beaches
Look at that crystal clear water!

Ponta do Farol, or deserted beach, is the eastern part of Ilha da Culatra and it’s the perfect beach if you want a natural beach without any distractions. Just sand, the ocean and you well and a few other people.

When I visited it was very empty just a handful of other people I could see. You can go for a swim in the very shallow water between Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona. The water was surprisingly warm to me in those shallow parts. 

There’s absolutely nothing on the beach, no toilet, no shop, no house altogether so make sure to bring enough drinking water when you visit Ponta do Farol.

There are also no lifeguards, so it’s not the beast beach if you want to do a lot of swimming. 

But I loved it there, it was so peaceful and quiet. I got to read my book and go for a dip in the ocean. 

Amenities on Ponta do Farol – Desert beach

Toilets: No

Sun lounges to rent: No

Beach bar/shop: No

Lifeguards: No

6. Praia da Ilha do Farol (Mar)

A picture against the sun of a beach with a lighthouse; Praia da Farol
The lighthouse makes for a picturesque background

Ilha do Farol is another small picturesque village on Culatra island. It’s most known for the lighthouse which is the second tallest in Portugal.

Right next to the lighthouse is the Praia da Ilha do Farol with a relaxed beach bar which is the perfect spot for a drink on the beach. I got some vegan ice cream to go and relaxed on the beach and read my book. 

Just for the vegan ice cream and the picturesque view with the lighthouse in the back I loved this beach. 

Amenities on Praia da Ilha do Farol (Mar)

Toilets: Yes

Sun lounges to rent: Yes

Beach bar/shop: Yes

Lifeguards: Yes

Tina having an ice cream on a beach with a lighthouse in the background
Vegan fruit ice cream at the beach 🙂

Final thoughts: Best Olhão beaches

Whether you’re a fan of the laid-back vibes on Armona Island or you’re all about that vegan ice cream at Praia do Farol, there’s a slice of paradise waiting for you at the beaches near Olhão. And if having the best amenities is your top priority, Praia da Culatra is a great option.

Remember, Olhão itself might not have beaches, but a quick ferry ride will land you on some of the Algarve’s most stunning islands.

The sandy beaches are stunning and vast, differing from those in the western Algarve. Consider adding Olhão beaches to your Algarve itinerary for a change of scenery.

An empty sun lounge at Fuseta beach

Read more about the Algarve:

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A visual guide to the epic beaches of Olhão, Algarve, showcasing a series of images from top to bottom: a motorboat on the tranquil waters, the pristine sandy shoreline with a glistening sun, a lighthouse standing sentinel by the sea, a relaxing beach scene with a straw umbrella, and visitors enjoying the serene coastal stretch.
Most Beautiful Olhao Beaches

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