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Tavira Beaches - A Beach Guide
Tavira is a wonderful holiday destination that combines a delightful and historic town with a stunning coastline of unspoilt beaches. These beautiful sandy beaches are located along the seaward side of the Ilha de Tavira island and are protected from development by the Ria de Formosa Nature Park.
The Ilha de Tavira beaches may be stunning, but it is not possible to walk to them from the town centre, so either a ferry or bus must be caught. This guide will provide an introduction to the beaches of Tavira, highlight our favourites, and provide details on how to travel to them.
The glorious beach of Praia do Barril
Quick Summary of Tavira’s beaches
Best Overall Beach - Praia do Barril
Most accessible from Tavira - Praia de Tavira
Best for families - Praia de Tavira
Most scenic beach – Praia do Barril
Beach to escape the crowds - Terra Estreita
Nudist beach – Praia do Homem Nú (between Terra Estreita and Praia de Tavira)
Tavira Beaches and the Ilha de Tavira
The majority of the beaches within the Tavira region are located on the Ilha de Tavira. This sandbar island has a 10km long sandy shoreline, which stretches from Tavira in the north-east to Fuseta in the south-west. The island is only 2km from Tavira but is separated by a narrow stretch of water and the mudflats of the Ria de Formosa Nature Park.
The unique characteristic of the beaches on the Ilha de Tavira is their idyllic and natural setting. There is almost no tourist development (hotels, apartments or shops) on the island, and the beaches are surrounded by sand dunes or beach shrubs.
The stunning Terra Estreita beach
The Three Main Beaches
The majority of visitors to the Ilha de Tavira are centered around the three main accesses points (two ferry routes and one footbridge), and this gives rise to the three beaches, which are ultimately very similar. The three main beaches on the Ilha de Tavira are the Praia de Tavira, the Praia da Terra Estreita and the Praia do Barril.
All of the beaches provide soft golden sands, calm clean sea waters and are surrounded by gently rolling sand dunes. The main differences between the beaches are their popularity and extent of tourist facilities, which is directly related to the size of the town they serve. The subsequent sections will detail the three beaches in greater depth.
The Praia de Tavira Beach
The Praia de Tavira is the closest beach to Tavira, being at the north-eastern edge of the Ilha de Tavira and is served by a regular ferry service from the town. As the Praia de Tavira is the nearest beach to Tavira, it also tends to be the most popular. The Praia de Tavira is a wonderful beach, and the majority of visitors will be happy to spend most of their holiday visiting this one beach.
Behind the beach there is a summer time community which, includes a campsite, cafes and shops. All of the facilities are low-key but it does provide options for lunch, drinks or delicious sweet Portuguese cakes!
The beach does get very busy during the summer and most beach goers concentrate at the northern edge, close to the parasols and sunshades (€15 per day). There are quieter sections of the beach to the south, but be warned as the nudist beach (the Praia do Homem Nú) is around 1km away. For a full guide to the Praia de Tavira please click here.
The Praia de Tavira Ferry
There are two direct ferry services from Tavira, a summer time service from central Tavira and a year-round service from the Cais das Quatro Águas (Quatro Aquas Pier).
The summer time ferry (May-Sep) departs from the eastern bank of the Gilão River, in central Tavira (GPS 37.12496, -7.64541). The ferry takes 20 minutes, and a ticket costs €1.30/€2.00/€0.90 (single/return/child return). The Ferry is operated by Silnido, and the 2018 timetable from Tavira can be seen on their website:
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The second ferry route operates all year round and departs from the Cais das Quatro Águas (GPS 37.11651, -7.62928). This pier is located 2km south of Tavira, and there is a large car park close by. The ferry journey takes 10 minutes and the cost of the ride is €1.50/€0.90 (return/child return). The 2018 ferry timetable can be seen here:
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On the Ilha de Tavira it is a 200m walk from the ferry mooring to the beach and the route passes the campsite and beach cafes.
The Praia do Barril Beach
The Praia do Barril is our favourite beach of the Tavira region. Along with golden sands and clean waters, the beach provides an insight into the heritage of the region and is the setting for the Cemitério das Âncoras, a truly unique sight of the Algarve.
Barril was a small fishing community that specialised in Bluefin Tuna fishing, but was abandoned in the 1960s when fish stocks were depleted. Today, the small dwellings used by the fishermen have been converted into a selection of cafes, shops and beach huts. The hundreds of anchors used for the complex tuna fishing nets have been aligned in the sand dunes as a rusting memorial to this former livelihood.
The Cemetery of Anchors on the Ilha de Tavira
The Praia do Barril beach is located close to the village of Pedras de El-Rei and is the furthest of the three beaches from Tavira. At this point the Ria de Formosa waterways are at their narrowest and there is a pontoon bridge connecting the mainland to the Ilha de Tavira. After the bridge, there is a mini-train which transports visitors the 1km to the beach; this mini train was originally used to transport supplies and freshly caught fish from Barril to the mainland. For a full guide to the Praia do Barril please click here.
The Praia da Terra Estreita beach
The Praia da Terra Estreita Beach is virtually undiscovered by tourism and is one of the quietest beaches of the Algarve. The beach is located on the middle section of the Ilha de Tavira, approximately 2km from the Praia de Tavira and the Praia do Barril. The beach lies in front of the small fishing town of Santa Luiza and there is a direct ferry from the town.
The Terra Estreita beach
On the beach, there is just a single beach bar/café while to either side of the beach are deserted stretches of coastline. There is no direct ferry from Tavira and the only connection is from the small fishing town of Santa Luzia, 3 km to the east of Tavira. During the summer the ferry departs every 15 minutes and the return trip costs €2.00. The Praia da Terra Estreita is the beach to visit to escape the crowds and the quiet and relaxed ambience makes the beach a favourite of all who make the effort to travel here.
The Praia do Homem Nú
The Praia do Homem Nú was the Algarve’s original nudist beach but is not very popular as it is so difficult to get to. The only method is to travel to the Praia de Tavira or the Praia da Terra Estreita and then walk the 1km along the beach.
The sea waters of the Tavira coastline are crystal clear but are surprisingly chilly, even at the height of the summer. During the peak season (June-August) the sea temperature is 21-22C but this drops to 16-17C in the winter (December – February). The sea water temperatures are cooler than the Mediterranean Sea as they are fed by the Atlantic Ocean. If you are planning to spend an extended period in the sea consider using a wetsuit.
The beaches for children and families
The beaches of the eastern Algarve are ideal for families with children of all ages. The sea waters are clean and calm, without the powerful waves or strong currents of the western Algarve. During the summer the beaches are supervised by lifeguards and each of the beaches has a selection of cafes and shops. The summer sun can be very intense and sunshades and parasols can be hired for daily use. Sun-cream and sun-protection can be purchased from the shops of Tavira but it is very expensive it is always advisable to bring this from your home country.