The car-free sandbank island of Culatra is a popular destination for day-trippers who come here to get away from the crowds on the Algarve mainland and to enjoy the calm waters and stunning beaches on offer here.
The Ilha da Cultura is basically one huge beach on which you will always be able to find a quiet spot to throw your towel down. Nude sunbathing is not unheard of here so don't be surprised if you go wandering among the dunes!
Apart from tourism, the main economic activity here is fishing, and the small settlement of Culatra is a working fishing village. The Island's other settlement, Farol (Portuguese for lighthouse), is slightly more touristy, although in total the island has only a handful of bars/restaurants and three small supermarkets. Many visitors bring their own picnics.
Ferries and water taxis to the island depart daily from Olhao and Faro, with a reduced ferry service operating outside of the high season. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the island from Olhao by boat.
The crystal clear, turquoise waters make this a good place to come snorkelling. Visitors can also explore the island via the boardwalks and footpaths which criss-cross the 6km-long sandbank. For those in search of a more extreme form of wilderness, private water taxis can be hired to the more remote, uninhabited island of Barreta.