Ilha do Farol

Ilha do Farol beach and island guide, how to get there and where to stay

Ilha do Farol, Faro

Ilha do Farol (“Lighthouse Island”) is the name given to the western side of a barrier island in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The eastern side has a different name (Ilha da Culatra), but shares the same continuous 6km-long (4 miles) stretch of sand. The northern side of the island is also sometimes called Hangares, after an old hangar.

Ilha do Farol, Faro, Algarve

The two different names of the island refer to the two fishing communities that developed on it. Ilha do Farol is the closest to Faro, and is named after a lighthouse (Farol do Cabo de Santa Maria) erected in 1851 and measuring 50 meters (164 feet) in height. It’s often possible to go to the top for a beautiful view of the island and the region.

Boats for rent in Ilha do Farol, Faro

The picturesque community’s white, blue and yellow homes were built by the fishermen who settled on the island. Many permanent residents continue to work in the fishing industry, but many others are now employed in tourism. Some of the houses have been bought by middle class investors, who turned them into summer homes. You need to cross the tiny village to reach the beach, when you arrive on the boat from Faro.

Boats in Ilha do Farol, Faro

Praia da Ilha do Farol (“Lighthouse Island Beach”) stretches as far as the eye can see. It is quite wide, but everyone tends to concentrate on the area by the lighthouse. It can get crowded here in the summer, but continue walking east and it becomes deserted. On the more popular area by the lighthouse you have wicker parasols and loungers for rent in the summer, as well as lifeguard supervision.

Lighthouse and fisherman's house in Ilha do Farol, Faro

The sand is white and soft, and the water is clean and usually calm enough for swimming and snorkeling in the summer. This is a Blue Flag beach, meaning you can count on cleanliness and safety.

Ilha do Farol, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

There are restaurants and bars by the pier and the lighthouse, mostly specializing in grilled fish and snacks.

Beach for: Families
Lifeguards: Yes
Bathrooms: Yes
Rentals: Yes
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
Accessible: Yes
Parking: No (ferry access only)

How to Get to Ilha do Farol

Ferry to Ilha do Farol, Faro

Ferries to Ilha do Farol depart from a pier by the Porta Nova gateway of Faro’s Old Town walls (a short walk from the marina). The journey takes about 30 minutes and is quite pleasant, going through the Ria Formosa Natural Park and offering a panoramic view of Faro. There are covered and open-air sitting areas -- trying to get a seat outside if you want to take photos. Note the time of the last ferry back to Faro, if you plan to spend the entire day at the beach. There are also ferries from the city of Olhão, departing from the pier which also has connections to the Culatra side of the island and to the neighboring island of Armona.

Beaches by Ilha do Farol

Continue walking east (to the left when facing the sea) for about 30 to 40 minutes, and you reach the side of the island known as Ilha da Culatra. The beach here tends to be much quieter. Ilha do Farol neighbors another island, Ilha Deserta. It literally is a desert island and one of the most peaceful beaches in Algarve. It’s also an official nude beach. It can be reached by ferry or speedboat from the pier in Faro where you catch the boat to Ilha do Farol.

Hotels by Ilha do Farol

Eva Senses Hotel, Faro

Eva Senses Hotel

There are no hotels in Ilha do Farol, but this one is a short walk from the pier in Faro with the ferries to the island. It faces the marina and features a rooftop pool, a panoramic restaurant, a spa and spacious rooms with balconies.


Hotel Faro & Beach Club

Hotel Faro & Beach Club

In the summer, this hotel can arrange boat services to Ilha do Farol. It’s also located a short walk from the pier for the ferry. Its bright rooms have balconies, and there’s a restaurant and a swimming pool on the rooftop terrace.