The Natural Park of Ria Formosa is one of the most beautiful natural resources of the Algarve, both for the variety of habitats and for its unique location. Recently voted one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, is one of the three protected areas that you should definitely visit on holiday in the Algarve. This is a unique lagoon system and constantly changing due to the continuous movement of winds, currents and tides.
Classified as a Natural Park since 1987, has an area of about 18 hectares, and is protected from the sea by five barrier islands and two peninsulas: the peninsula Ancão (including incorrectly called Faro Island), the Barreta island or Deserta, as it is known, the Culatra island (where it is the lighthouse of Santa Maria), the island of Armona, Tavira island, Cabanas island and finally Peninsula of Cacela. This whole area of great beauty extends over 60 km from the coast of the Algarve leeward by the municipalities of Loulé, Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António from the peninsula Ancão to the beach of Manta Rota.
The Ria Formosa is a biodiversity sanctuary, here we can find animals in danger of extinction, such as the chameleon, the seahorse or the sultana hen. Many species of migratory waterfowl from northern Europe spend the winter here, or use the Ria Formosa as a point of scale in its course towards the southernmost stops. Of the existing mammals include the otter, the sacarabos, the genet, the weasel, badger and the fox. With an average depth of 2 meters, still harbors 288 species of mollusks, 79 of fish, 15 reptiles, 11 amphibians, 214 birds, 18 mammals, 8 arachnids, 5 crustaceans and 6 annelids, and more than 700 species of plants .
We can find such diverse environments as barrier islands, marshes, shoals and mud, sand dunes, salt marshes, freshwater ponds and brackish, waterways, agriculture and forest.
It is also to emphasize the importance of the Ria in the life cycle of many species of fish and shellfish, especially as breeding and feeding area.
Activities abound for all tastes: the Ria Formosa offers a number of beaches, especially the islands that are perhaps the most beautiful and quite of the Algarve. By career or taxi, it is easy to get there, but one gets the leagues from the hustle and bustle that characterizes this region, especially in the summer months.
More or less radical, but always in deep respect for this protected area, ways to pass the time pass by bird watching, water sports, snorkeling, hiking, tours around the Ria or fishing. These are just some examples, in addition to the beach itself.