This island is one of the best-kept secrets in Algarve. It’s about 10km (6 miles) to the east of the city of Olhão, and hasn’t yet been discovered by tourists. It’s mostly frequented by locals but is growing in popularity.
Actually, Ilha da Fuseta is the name of the eastern side of an island whose western side is known as Ilha da Armona. This 9km-long (5.5 miles) island is part of the protected Ria Formosa Natural Park and is connected by boat to the fishing village of Fuseta (sometimes spelled “Fuzeta”) and Olhão (ferries from Olhão go to the Armona side).
The eastern tip, facing the neighboring island of Tavira, also has the name of Praia da Barra Nova, so if you see tourist boats indicating that destination, they’re still taking you to Ilha da Fuseta. These boats depart from the pier in the village of Fuseta.
In the village itself is another beach, known as Praia da Fuseta-Ria (it’s also sometimes called Praia dos Tesos). Its water is calm, there’s no need to take a boat, there are restaurants nearby, and it has stand up paddleboarding and kitesurfing equipment for rent, so it’s usually very crowded with local families. For more space and even more beautiful scenery, head to Ilha da Fuseta instead.
On your way, you’ll go past an abandoned lifeguard and rescue station, which is completely surrounded by water when the tide rises. You’ll also see people looking for clams in the shallow waters. When the tide is really low, it’s technically possible to waddle to the island from the village, but this is not recommended.
Once at the beach on the island, most people tend to stay close to the pier, where there are a couple of bars and wicker parasols and loungers for rent. But the quieter and more beautiful side is to the east, or the section known as Praia da Barra Nova or Praia da Barra da Fuseta (keep walking to the left when facing the sea, for about 20 minutes). Here you almost have the feeling of being on a deserted island.
The beach is narrow but very long, and backed by dunes. It has white sand and the water is usually calm and clear, particularly on the eastern end and at low tide. It’s generally great for swimming, and there is lifeguard supervision in the bathing season. However, these lifeguards are stationed on the middle section, close to the pier, so there’s no supervision on the eastern or western sides. When you walk west for several minutes (to the right when facing the sea, towards Ilha da Armona), the beach is one big desert except for a few naturists.
This is a Blue Flag beach, meaning it’s clean and safe. Make sure you keep it that way, by taking all the trash with you on your return.
Back at the village of Fuseta, you find a number of restaurants with outdoor seating by the harbor and parking lot. The village is very small, with just about 2000 permanent residents, so except for a pretty white church, it doesn’t have any monuments or major tourist attractions besides the beaches.
Beach for: Couples, Families, Social Media
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
Parking: Yes (by the harbor)
How to Get to Ilha da Fuseta
Fuseta is a 20-minute drive from Olhão, heading east on road N125. It’s 30 minutes from Faro and 20 minutes from Tavira. There’s a parking lot by the harbor. It can also be reached by train. If you’re coming from Olhão, it’s just one stop on the regional train, the journey takes 7 minutes, and tickets are €1.45. From Faro it takes about 20 minutes and tickets are €2.20. From Tavira it’s just over 15 minutes and tickets are €1.65. There are two train stations in Fuseta -- “Fuseta” and “Fuseta-A.” The train stops at these two stations, but the one closer to the harbor is “Fuseta-A.” There are trains around every 90 minutes to two hours. You can check the times at the cp.pt website. The boats to the island depart from the harbor and take 10 minutes to reach the island. There are booths by the pier selling tickets.
Beaches by Ilha da Fuseta
Walking west for one hour or more you arrive at the beach known as Ilha da Armona. Save your legs, and take the ferry to this beach from the city of Olhão instead. To the east is the island of Tavira, with the beaches of Ilha de Tavira, Terra Estreita, Barril, and Homem Nu.
Hotels by Ilha da Fuseta
Octant Vila Monte
Just a 10-minute drive from Fuseta, you find this wonderful retreat that resulted from a renovated farmhouse. It’s a boho-chic design hotel inspired by the local architecture, with 55 rooms and surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. It has two outdoor pools and an excellent restaurant focusing on regional cuisine using fresh local ingredients.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Octant Vila Monte
Moinhos das Marés
An historic windmill, standing above the salt pans of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and with flamingos as neighbors, was restored in 2016 and turned into a guesthouse. It was divided into five rooms, preserving the original architecture outside but with a contemporary interior. The pier for the ferries to the island is just down the road.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Moinhos das Marés
Estudios Salinas - Fuseta
These self-catering studios are in the center of Fuseta, behind the main church. From the rooftop terrace you can see the ocean and the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Some units have their own terrace or balcony. The ferries to the island are a 5-minute walk away.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Estudios Salinas - Fuseta
Barco Casa Fuzeta
And now for something completely different -- an eco-friendly houseboat. It allows you to sleep under the stars and comes fully equipped to make it a home away from home -- floating on the sea.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Barco Casa Fuzeta