Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island) is one of the islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is home to the most popular beach in Tavira. The beach is on its eastern side and has the name of the island, although it’s sometimes called Praia de Tavira (“Tavira Beach”). It’s easily accessed by a ferry departing from the center of Tavira, and is widely considered one of the best in Algarve, with soft white sand stretching as far as the eye can see.
The island is 11km (approximately 7 miles) long and just 150 meters (500ft) at its narrowest point but as much as 1 kilometer (over half a mile) at the widest. At Ilha de Tavira Beach there’s plenty of space, with an area for wicker parasols, sunshades and loungers for rent, massage beds, and even soccer and volleyball nets. This attracts people of all ages, both locals and tourists, but it never feels overcrowded.
It’s also very clean, as certified by the Blue Flag. The water is usually calm and safe enough for children, and there’s lifeguard supervision in the summer. The average water temperature is 22 degrees Celsius (72 Fahrenheit) in the warmer months.
Before you reach the sand, you cross a wooded area with pine trees and a campsite. Here is a number of restaurants with outdoor seating, mostly specializing in fresh fish. These are the only structures on the island, which is uninhabited.
Walking west (to the right when facing the sea), away from the restaurants and the parasols, the beach becomes quieter and almost deserted, and you’ll find people sunbathing nude. Keep walking further west (for about 20 minutes) and you reach the beach of Terra Estreita. If you really enjoy walks by the sea, a 40-minute walk takes you to the beach of Barril and some time after that, the official nude beach of Homem Nu.
Beach for: Families, Couples, Naturists
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
Parking: No (ferry access only)
How to Get to Ilha de Tavira
Ferries operated by the Silnido company depart from the Cais das Quatro Águas pier throughout the year, and from the pier in the center of Tavira (Rua José Pires Padinha) from the end of March to September or October. There is usually just one departure per hour in winter but it’s more frequent in the summer. The Quatro Águas pier is about a 20-minute walk from the center of town, down Estrada das 4 Águas road. If you’re driving, you may park in the large parking lot right by the pier. The journey to the island takes about 10 minutes if you depart from Quatro Águas, and about 20 minutes from the pier in the city center. The trip is quite enjoyable, allowing you to spot flamingos and other birds that look for food around the lagoons. Tickets are bought at the ticket booths and are €1.70 for a round trip departing from Quatro Águas and €2.20 from the central pier. Always confirm the time of the last ferry back to Tavira if you plan to spend the entire day at the beach, otherwise you’ll need to take an expensive private water taxi or sleep at the beach!
Beaches by Ilha de Tavira
There’s another island with a similar beach to the east of Ilha de Tavira. That’s Cabanas de Tavira and can be reached by boat. On Tavira Island, there are the aforementioned beaches of Terra Estreita, Barril and Homem Nu. To the west is the island of Fuseta, which is also part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
To locate these beaches, see the Tavira beaches map.
Hotels by Ilha de Tavira
The campsite is the only place to stay at this beach. There’s no vehicle access, so you can’t bring your van or caravan. It’s open from June to September and provides its own tents. It’s quite big and never fully booked. If you want to sleep here, head to the reception between 9am and 9pm (10pm on Fridays and Saturdays). You need to show your national ID or passport. If you prefer to stay at a hotel, those with easy access to this beach are:
Vila Gale Albacora
This is the hotel with the most direct access to Ilha de Tavira. It has its own pier with boats to the beach. It’s right by the Ria Formosa Natural Park and was originally part of a fishing community. A small museum and old photos show what life was like here back in the day. The museum occupies the former bakery, and the old school is now the hotel’s kids’ club. The rooms are contemporary and some have a view of the lagoons of the park. There’s also a restaurant serving Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine, an outdoor swimming pool, and a spa with an indoor pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Gale Albacora
Budget travelers on a beach holiday will want to stay at this guesthouse on the riverfront, within walking distance of the boats to Ilha de Tavira. It has basic but comfortable rooms, some with balconies opening to a panoramic view. The highlight is the terrace where guests can relax in the sun, and, quite unusual for this type of accommodation, a sauna.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Residencial Mares
Vila Gale Tavira
The boats to Ilha de Tavira are a short walk from this popular hotel with the largest swimming pool in town. Most of the rooms have balconies and many overlook the pool. Facilities include a restaurant of Portuguese and international cuisine, a spa, a heated indoor pool, and a kids’ club.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Vila Gale Tavira