Once a sleepy fishing village, now a popular resort, Cabanas lies on a lagoon a short drive east of Tavira at the gateway to the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve. The Avenida Ria Formosa promenade runs along the seafront here and features a number of small shops, cafes and restaurants. On the seaward side of the promenade is an attractive new boardwalk which runs along the entire length of the lagoon.
Just across the waters is the long, white sand Ilha de Cabanas island beach, which can be accessed by ferry or water-taxi. The waters on the island beach are crystal clear and good for a refreshing dip. Because it is that bit harder to access this beach doesn’t get as busy as most on the Algarve, even in peak season.
The resort gets its name from the traditional cabanas fishing huts, which started to be built here in 18th century to store the tackle of the fishermen who once fished for tuna here. Some attractive fishermen's cottages are still to be found in the older part of the village.
Today tourism has overtaken fishing as the main industry here, although there are still plenty of small fishing boats to be seen along the seafront. The village has undergone significant development in the last decade, and gets quite busy in July and August, but this said, it retains plenty of charm.
There is lots to do nearby. For golfers there are three excellent golf courses in the area and the 17th century Sao Joao da Barra fort, now a luxury seafront hotel, provides some lovely photo opportunities. Birdwatchers or anyone with an interest in wildlife can take a boat trip out across the marshes and waterways of the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve.