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Desertas Islands

Desertas Islands: Our most recommended tours and activities

Faro: Deserta Island and Farol Island Catamaran Boat Trip

1. Faro: Deserta Island and Farol Island Catamaran Boat Trip

When you’re in Portugal make sure to experience this exciting catamaran boat to Deserta and Farol islands that will take you through the spectacular nature of the Ria Formosa. Come see why this region was elected one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. Depart from the Marina of Faro sailing slowly through the channels of the Ria Formosa to fully enjoy the beautiful landscape. Along the tour you will see birds like the Grey Heron, the White Stork and many other birds that use this area as a feeding habitat. As you approach the islands and beaches you see the lighthouse of Culatra Island where you make our first stop. Looking around, one can observe the hard work of the people in the oyster and clam farms. A closer look towards the coastline and you will notice the market of the city of Olhão - an important fishing town. And off toward the ocean you can glimpse one of the most important sea entrances of the Ria Formosa. The next stop is Farol Island. Here, you can enjoy a walk around the streets of this small but friendly community. When passing by the lighthouse, go on until the very end to admire an extensive beach of fine white sand washed by calm warm waters. Leave the Farol Island and make your second stop at Deserta Island. This island is also known as Barreta Island. Here lies the most southern point of Portugal - the Santa Maria Cape. In this second stop you can choose to explore the fauna and flora of the island by an easy walk or simply enjoy the sunshine and bathe in the clear waters of the beach.

Desertas Islands Full-Day Catamaran Trip from Funchal

2. Desertas Islands Full-Day Catamaran Trip from Funchal

On this full-day catamaran trip to the Desertas Islands, you’ll sail along the south coast of Madeira Island. On arrival, you’ll disembark in clear waters onto a beach of volcanic origin, where you’ll have a chance to enjoy a swim. Covering an area of 12,586 hectares the Natural Reserve of the Desertas Islands comprises all islands and islets (Ilhéu Chão, Deserta Grande, Bugio, and adjacent islets) and all of the surrounding marine area. It has been designated a nature reserve for over 25 years and is now internationally known for its monk seal conservation efforts. Today this protected area can be visited by sea. Deserta Grande is the only island where visitors can disembark, and you’ll enjoy a guided walk to the conservation center to learn about the monk seal protection efforts and also about endemic flora and fauna.

Madeira East Island Tour and Levada Walk

3. Madeira East Island Tour and Levada Walk

This tour of the east side of Madeira island is designed to show guests how truly magical it is. Come and be awed by its spectacular beauty. To begin the day, pick-up is from the hotel at 8:00 to 9:00. The first stop will be at a viewpoint above Funchal. Continue to Camacha, famous for its beautiful wicker works, and stop to have a look around and then take a scenic drive up to Poiso where the start of the Laurissilva forest can be found. After this, make your way to the majestic views of Pico do Arieiro. Pico do Arieiro is the third highest peak on the island, standing 1818 meters. Next is what some consider to be the most beautiful spot on the island, Ribeiro Frio. Here you will visit a trout farm and do a levada walk to the Balcões. Following the walk, make your way to Santana to see its famous A-framed cottages and then continue along the northern coastal road to Faial. Stop for lunch in the northern part of the island. After lunch, carry on to the eastern part of the island, to the famous viewpoint of Pico do Facho. From here you will have incredible views of Ponta de São Lourenco, Machico and the airport. On a good day one can see the Desertas Islands as well Porto Santo, the small island adjacent to Madeira. The last stop will be a famous viewpoint above Machico. You will arrive back to Funchal by 17:00.

Madeira: Guaranteed Whales or Dolphins Watching Tour

4. Madeira: Guaranteed Whales or Dolphins Watching Tour

Board a boat custom-made for whale watching with seats that fit a maximum of 12 passengers per trip. Learn about whales and dolphins from the crew and keep your eyes open for all kinds of wildlife, including turtles and different species of bird. Madeira Island is known by the scientific community as the area with the highest concentration of cetacean in Madeira. With 98% of tours resulting in successful sightings, you are guaranteed to see a wide variety of different animals. After more than 1 hour and 30 minutes out at sea learning about these fascinating mammals, you’ll return back to the pier, marking the end of your whale and dolphin watching experience.

Funchal: Private Sailboat Cruise with Snacks and Snorkeling

5. Funchal: Private Sailboat Cruise with Snacks and Snorkeling

Sail to crystal clear waters along Madeira's southern coast on this boat tour from Funchal. Relax on pillows and puffs as you soak up some sun on the deck. Dive in waters teeming with fish and look for marine life like sea turtles with high-quality snorkeling gear.  Board the spacious and comfortable boat in at the marina in Funchal. Be served a refreshing welcome drink and enjoy some snacks as you sail. Visit private bays that can only be accessed by boat. Stop to swim through turquoise waters. Unwind with music and some mouth-watering local specialties onboard. Capture pictures of the island from the sea to share with friends and family. Return to the marina in Funchal at the end of your tour. 

Other Sightseeing Options in Desertas Islands

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What people are saying about Desertas Islands

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,161 reviews

Really nice tour of east Madeira. The destinations were all worth seeing. A highlight was the female tour guide. She was an original, drove well and safely, informed about various interesting facts and was absolutely flexible to the wishes of the small tour group (only 8 people).

This tour was amazing from 9 until 18pm , our tour guide Toni was the funniest he told us so many interesting facts about madeira, the plants, animals… we learned a lot on this tour. I recommend to go on minimum 2 tours when you’re in Madeira.

3h to the island and 3 back, so enjoy the sea! We got to see dolphins on our way back. The island itself is beautiful despite not being able to see much there. Food was tasty and staff friendly!

Very pleasant and instructive tour. The conductor provided information on the fauna and other characteristics of the region. super recommend

I can absolutely recommend!!! Our guide, José, was more than friendly. He shared a lot of knowledge and was always humorous. gladly again :)