Deservedly known as the "deserted island", Barreta is a narrow 7 km long sandbank off the coast of Faro. It is in fact the closest of a number of sandy islands that make up this stretch of coast. Forming part of the Ria Formosa National Park, this is one of the best destinations for those wishing to escape the crowds and experience the remote calm of an undeveloped wilderness.
Ferries and speed boats depart daily from Faro. Be sure to check the time of the last boat back-this island has no accommodation and no permanent residents. The return ferry trip costs around €10 - private taxis are likely to charge around €50 for a one-way trip.
Facilities on the island are somewhat limited. There is one eco-friendly, solar-powered seafood restaurant, O Estamine and there are toilets on the island, but otherwise the only structures here are a few quaint old beach shacks. There are no trees here although sun parasols can be rented for the day at some locations.
The main activity here, apart from soaking up the sun and exploring the island’s boardwalks is birdwatching. The side of the island facing the mainland forms a marshy lagoon which is the best place to spot flamingos. Look out for storks, terns and other migratory birds too.
The beach on the other side of the sandbank - Cabo de Santa Maria is classed as being the most southerly point of "mainland" Portugal and faces a vast expanse of shimmering Ocean. A beach on the western side of the island is used (unofficially) by naturists.