Discover a different side to Faro as you delve into the meandering channels that fan out from the Ria Formosa lagoon. Zoom along by speedboat or enjoy a leisurely pace on board a catamaran.
Deserted islands, native wildlife, and snorkeling are the order of the day, with plenty of stops for photos. Check out these Faro boat trips to decide which to include on your vacation.
What are the most popular boat tours in Faro?
There are several Faro boat excursions to choose from, including lagoon tours and wildlife cruises.
Drift along the winding channels and around magical islands on a comfortable catamaran, yacht, or speedboat, enjoying swimming and snorkeling at picturesque stops.
Most Faro boat trips land at deserted beaches for you to stretch your legs on the islets. Some tours take you on a tranquil river journey through traditional Portuguese countryside where you can visit villages and enjoy a local restaurant lunch.
Bird watching trips
Ria Formosa Natural Park is renowned for its aquatic bird life – this is a great place to see plovers, black-winged stilts, and spoonbills, especially during winter. These guided tours take you deep into the wetlands, through oyster and clam farms as you sail along the channels.
Dolphin spotting excursions
Sail along the dramatic Algarve coast and look out for dolphins, turtles, and birds from your comfortable perch on a semi-rigid boat. You will explore the lagoon and islands, as well as traveling to the southernmost tip of Portugal.
Float on the calm lagoon waters and stop at a secluded island beach to watch the changing light as afternoon turns to evening. Small-group and private tours are available, with some including dinner on board.
Want to have a say in your sailing itinerary? Then choose a private Faro boat trip and chat with the captain about your preferences. On these tours, you can explore the more secluded parts of the lagoon, and visit islands that most tourists miss out on during group excursions.
How much do boat tours in Faro cost?
The trip length and type of boat are the key factors in determining the tour price.
- Scenic island-hopping tours around the Ria Formosa lagoon start at €15 for 1 hour or €24 for 2 hours. For longer trips expect to pay €16 - €50 for half a day, or €37 for a 6-hour trip.
- Want to explore a deserted island independently? Then hop on the local ferry which costs €10 for a round-trip ticket.
- Bird watching excursions cost €30 for 2 hours, while dolphin spotting cruises are €45 for a couple of hours.
- Sunset trips are €20 for 45 minutes, or if you fancy a private tour this will cost €208 for an hour.
- Private charters range from €150 for 1 hour to €799 for 7 hours on the water.
Which places are seen with a boat tour from Faro?
Ria Formosa Natural Park
The Ria Formosa salt marsh is a real highlight of the Algarve, spreading out over 18,400 hectares and known as one of Portugal’s “Natural Wonders”. This lagoon system is home to winding channels, sandy peninsulas, and tiny islands like Culatra, Farol, and Deserta.
You can land on some of the islands to soak up the sun on sandy beaches or walk around the shoreline taking in the beautiful scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for caiman, flamingo, and even eagles.
Santa Maria Cape
This is the southernmost tip of Portugal, with a long sandy beach curving around the coastline. The lighthouse of Santa Maria dominates the skyline and makes for some great vacation snaps.
This natural border between Portugal and Spain will transport you through lush green countryside and traditional villages. You will visit the ancient settlement of Foz de Odeleite and a local cheesemaker, before tasting local delicacies and dancing to folk music.
How long does a boat trip last?
Scenic Faro boat trips that explore the lagoon and the islands last between 1 – 6 hours, including time at the beach.
Bird and dolphin watching tours are all 2 – 2.5 hours long, giving you enough time on the water to encounter some of the region’s most prominent wildlife.
Sunset cruises are generally around 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours if you opt for an exclusive tour. Private day charters can be a quick 1-hour jaunt or a leisurely 7-hour trip – and anything in between!
Where do boat tours leave from?
Many Faro boat trips offer hotel pick-ups for an additional fee, so check with your provider to see if this is an option.
Otherwise, you should make your way to the embarkation point, which is often near the jetty at Porta Nova in the southern part of the old town. Some tours also depart from various locations around Faro Marina.
When is the best time for a boat trip in Faro?
For scenic boat tours in Faro that offer swimming and snorkeling, the summer months are the best time to visit. This is when the water is at its warmest, and the weather is often sunny with a slight breeze.
Trips tend to be quieter during Spring and Fall, when temperatures are mild and visitor numbers drop.
Birdwatching tours are at their best during winter as this is when the waders are abundant, as well as the greater flamingo and the sandwich tern. You can however enjoy this trip during summer too as some birds are present year-round.
Which other water activities can be done in Faro?
- Kayaking: get back to nature as you paddle through the channels of Ria Formosa, coming up close to wildlife and enjoying a spot of island-hopping.
- Surfing: pick up some essential skills during a fun beach lesson then take on the waves and ride back to shore in style.
- Jet boating: cruise around deserted islands along the vibrant shoreline on a high-speed tour that will be sure to get your heart racing.
- Dolphin watching: sail to the open ocean to see these playful marine creatures. Your kids will love them!
- Take a towel and your swimming gear if you plan on enjoying a dip or going snorkeling during your Faro boat trip.
- Wear practical shoes for moving about the boat and walking around the islands.
- A decent zoom lens on your camera is a good idea for photographing the birds from a distance.
- Pack a light jacket to keep the wind off as it can become breezy out on the lagoon.