Whilst it is Culatra and Farol we’ve visited most to date (see my earlier post) Armona is just as delightful and I suspect we will be visiting most in the future. The Island is lovely, and like Culatra and Farol is car less. Being closer to the mainland it has fabulous views looking back and out of season it is incredibly quiet and peaceful. It probably has less day visitors than Culatra, and so is a true delight.
Whichever Ilha you visit though you’ll probably feel like you have left modern day life behind, although having said that there is modern day horror story going on at the moment on the Islands, which I’ll tell you about in a mo. For now let me focus on the beauty and some practicalities.
There are fewer ferries to Armona in the Winter, but usually on a Saturday there is an extra one early afternoon if you are just looking to get away for a couple of hours, otherwise take a picnic and catch the one which departs late morning. There are plenty of walks along the beach, and if the weather does change the cafe at the end of the pier seems to be always open. And don’t worry if you miss the last ferry as there are always the water taxis. In Summer it will be busy as the beaches are wonderful, on the plus side there are more cafes open and it will be very warm.
Looking at the maps you can even walk from Armona to the second beach at Fuseta where there are ferries back to the village, and then get the train back from Fuseta if you are after a full day adventure. Has anyone done this? Would love to hear from you if you have. I’m guessing it is probably sensible to look at tide times if we do this.
We noticed that although all the guidebooks advise that Armona is only 10 to 20minutes away by ferry, when we last visited it was closer to 30minutes the crossing! On that last visit the return crossing was incredible because of the sunsets, if you have a thing about sunsets then check out my sunsets post as the Ria Formosa skies know how to put on a show.
Reading all of the above it does sound rather idyllic, and for the casual visitor it probably is. However as I shared at the start there is a modern day life horror story. For some local Island residents life has become particularly tough over the past few months. The authorities have started demolishing some of the homes on the Ria Formosa islands, stating they are destroying those homes which have been built without permission. In some cases these homes are seasonal second homes, but in many cases they are destroying the homes of families who have lived in them for 10years or more. To make matters worse these homes are being destroyed with no resettlement programme and some families are now homeless and living in tents. The latest news is that some of the demolitions have been halted but that brings no relief for those who have already lost their homes or for whom the threat of demolition still hangs over them.