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 Ria Formosa (Faro & Olhao) - Profile

Location

Faro lies in the north west corner of Ria Formosa, which is on Portugal's southern coast. The city has much interesting and ancient architecture. Particularly attractive, is the old part of the city, still surrounded by its Roman walls.

Olhao is in the north east of the Ria. It is a major port and the largest fishing port in the Algarve. It is full of character with Moorish-style architecture.

Position 36°57.8'N, 07°52.2'W (entrance).

When approaching Faro from the West, be aware that there are tuna nets laid to the south of Faro. See report adjacent for further details.

Clearance

This is an official Port of Entry.

See the Noonsite/Portugal/Formalities page for full details of clearance.

The office of the Capitania (where the Policia Maritima are often found) overlooks the north end of the basin

Faro Harbourmaster
Tel:+351 289 822 025 ,VHF Channel 09,11, 16 (call Postradfaro - 24 hours)

Docking

There is good shelter once inside among the sand dunes, but the entrance is narrow and approaching at night or in strong winds is not advisable.

Faro
The winding channel is 4.5nm long, with a depth of about 4m.
There is a marina here but it is for small local boats only. Off the town, in sheltered water, there are moorings which may be available or anchor near channel buoy 23.

Land either at the Doca de Recreio, passing under the railway bridge (about 1m clearance at high water) or at one of the three jetties outside. It is then just a 15 minute walk into the town.

If landing in the basin note that the pontoons are closed off by individual security gates and that all east side is reserved for fishermen.

The office of the Capitania (where the Policia Maritima are often found) overlooks the north end of the basin, sharing premises with a small maritime museum.

Olhao
Transient spots in the marina are very limited. Yachts intending to visit should contact the marina in advance and forward all crew documents, vessel registration and insurance documents, to speed up the clearance process on arrival.

The channel leading to the marina is 5nm long, with a least depth of just over 2m. Approaching on a rising tide is advisable.

The marina is accessed via a narrow channel in the west bank. The entrance to it is at the far western end of the breakwater.

Anchorages

Culatra Island - This one is at the entrance to the channel leading to Faro and Olhao and is on the inside of a sandy island with beautiful beaches. The holding is generally good in silt/mud in the area north of the fishing harbour but other areas had thick sea grass or old cables. The small village has a few cottages, a cafe and a small hotel. There is a year-round ferry service to Faro.

Faro
Anchor SW of the Doca de Recreio in 3m. This is under the flight path of the airport, which is one of the busiest during the day (no flights at night).

Olhao - The anchorage is in the channel leading to the commercial port, but may not be permitted due to dredging operations.

Last updated June 2018.

Olhao Port Authority
Tel:+351 289 703 160 ,VHF Channel 09, 11, 16
Opening hours: Office hrs only (Mon-Fri)
Porto Recreio de Olhao
Tel:+351 289 010 925. Cell +351 961 293 336 ,VHF Channel 09
Opening hours: Office: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday
Max. length 17m. Max. draft 3m. Visitors berth on the breakwater where there is water and electricity. Contact in advance for berth availability.

Olivier Masurel
Olivier Masurel says:
Jun 15, 2018 07:20 PM

We have had a bad experience with Nave Pegos shipyard in Faro. We had decided to leave Neos on the hard for the winter. We asked if the trave lift was wide enough to accommodate Neos’beam which is 4.7 m. We were told that there was no problem as the travel lift was 5m. In fact it was only 4.8m. We had just the space to insert lines along the side of the boat to protect the hull! We lifted the boat in October. There was works to be done. In January nothing was done and we realized that nothing will be done. So we decided to put Neos back to the water and move her to Sopromar in Lagos. They are professional but expensive.

consprenger
consprenger says:
Jun 11, 2018 08:21 AM

May 2018. Entrance channel to Olhao well marked and plenty of depth (3 meters plus) even at low tide. Marina is under new ownership, efficient and friendly service. We arrived without reservation, they went out of their way to accommodate us and were great help when docking in strong winds and currrent. The breakwater pontoon now has power and water. Nice authentic town, great market on Saturdays, lots of restaurants, bars and supermarkets within walking distance. Make sure to contact marina before arrival for berth availability, there still is a long waiting list for permanent berths.

Markeprior
Markeprior says:
Aug 23, 2015 04:58 PM

I deeply regretted leaving Culatra for an overnighter to stuffy, busy, dirty, Gibraltar, where I had harboured dreams of getting any kind of boat work done. Culatra is incredibly well-protected and has lovely thick gloop that anchors were made for. Once in you won't move an inch in any conditions.
You can save yourself all that tricky shoal draft pilotage by catching the ferries that run to Faro and Olhao. They are very cheap (Olhoa E3.70 return).Or if you group together the boat taxis are just as economical. Bear in mind this. Drugs not normally available without prescription elsewhere are readily available and extremely cheap in Portugal. I stocked up with gout pills at a quarter of the UK prescription price.
Culatra is a tiny village but fresh goods are still reasonable and restaurants and bars are cheap too.Faro and the spectacular kaleidescope of colour, life and variety that is the Olhao Saturday market will provide anything you need.I can't comment on facilities for boats.

laplante01
laplante01 says:
Aug 16, 2015 05:31 PM

As commented above Faro has it all :)
We lifted out at Nave Pegos (Bruce's Yard) on Aug 7, till we resume our cruise next Spring.
Ria Formosa is an excellent area to rest, visit, and accomodate family/friends to visit. Easy grounds for short cruises east to Guadiana River or west toward Sagres, Lagos.
Many different safe anchorages depending on which island village/beach you want to visit. For Faro itself, visiting or providionning or airport cnx, go up the channel to buoy 23 and anchor or pick up avail mooring and dinghy in the Doca Recreio and tie up the far end wall (bad ladder or nice stone steps). Quite safe and right in town. 15 min walk up to supermarket lots restaurants, close by Meos cell phone shop for your sim card, etc.
Pierre and Dominique
S/Y Sibylline
Canada

Peter
Peter says:
Aug 15, 2015 02:13 PM

Culatra Island - in addition to the above written: The small village, visiting by dinghy no problem in the fisherharbour has also a basic supermarket with fresh bred and fruits and a lot of good things to buy. There is a year-round ferry service to Faro ( 5 Euros for the round trip), Olhao and Isla Deserta. Enough space for more than a hundret of ships to anchor, good holding in "gloopy, sandy mud". From Isla Culatra you can walk to the open atlantic coast with a wonderful beach and creastalclear water.
Faro : a wonderful little town, a must, to spend one day ore more in this area, you see also big birds in the entrance channel , where the little ferries are landing.
Olhao: Anchoring or Marina also avaivable in Olhao, but not many places and not so nice. With the dinghy its possible by highwater to go from anchoring to Olhao, better than with the big ferry. There are two big halls with red roofs: one with a large fish market and second with a friut and vegetable market during the week. On Saturday morning visit the big openair market in front of the halls. On the road behind the big halls you find some Ferreteria`s with some nautic parts and supermarketes, when you walk easterly, but better ask for the way.

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Marina de Lagos is the premier marina on Portugal's Algarve coast, located on the Bay of Lagos, among the best beaches in the Algarve. It is distinguished with the Euromarina Anchor Award, the European Blue Flag and the 5 Gold Anchor Award, and is proud of the comfort and safety of the facilities it offers.

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