The Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island) has a well deserved reputation as one of the best beaches on The Algarve. Forming part of the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve, the island is an 11 kilometre long sand spit, which varies in width from 150 to 1000 metres.
What brings hordes of sun worshippers here from far and wide are the pristine golden sands and the crystal clear (if slightly chilly) bathing waters. Come here on a sunny day and you could be mistaken for thinking you'd landed on on a Caribbean island! However, there is more than just the beach; this is a place which is fun to explore by foot at any time of year, the dunes and pine forests here providing a habitat for plenty of wildlife. The island is particularly popular with birdwatchers.
Tavira Island has a few houses along with some good eateries and bars, but is not overdeveloped. For visitors wishing to spend the night on this island paradise, there is a popular campsite where pre-erected tents can be booked. In the summer season there are supervised bathing areas and sun loungers and shades can be rented for the day. One section of the island has been designated as a naturist beach.
The island is accessible by a short ferry journey from Quatro Águas pier, a couple of kilometres out of Tavira. There is lots of parking at the ferry terminal, some of which is free, although it can get pretty busy in the car park during the summer season. This service operates throughout the year. Alternatively, from June until mid-September a ferry operates from Tavira town centre. Water taxis provide a more expensive, but flexible way to reach the island, or get home if you’ve missed the last ferry.
Once you arrive, it’s a short walk from the island’s ferry terminal, through a pine forest, to the beach. If the main beach is too crowded, just keep walking beyond the bars and restaurants until you find a quieter spot.
Ilha de Tavira can also be reached via a small floating bridge from the the Pedras d'El Rei / Santa Luzia area of Tavira, followed by a short trip on the little steam train which operates during the summer months. There is also a footpath running parallel to the railway line.