Barrinha Beach, swimming in Ria Formosa

André Jesus | Live the World

September 19, 2022

In my last article, I mentioned Barrinha, the wondrous edge of the Ancão Peninsula, most commonly known as the Island of Faro. And though I wrote extensively about the bizarre appeal of the area - with its scrappy and sunburned houses along the walkway - I didn’t write too much about the edge itself, the Barrinha Beach. A vast and empty coastline, continually changing with the ebb and flow of the tides.

© André Jesus

All along the Ancão Peninsula, you’ll see people swimming in the waters of Ria Formosa, but the majority prefer the beach on the opposite side, since the coastline in the Ria is, unfortunately, much dirtier, due to being overused for docking boats. The contrary happens in Barrinha since the beachside is a bit more agitated due to the currents and the Ria side is much cleaner and calmer (though still many cleaning campaigns are held during the year).

© André Jesus

In the summer months, it’s never entirely empty, but it’s never hard to find a place to lay you towels and parasol. Don’t get too sleepy though, or the tides may rise and wet everything- and they can rise fast sometimes!

Or, maybe the opposite, it’s not uncommon also to visit Barrinha and to see small islands slowly forming along the beach. This happens in the low tides, and it’s not unusual to see people searching for crabs and shellfish in these occasions.

© André Jesus

Barrinha provides a fantastic view of not just the ocean but also the Ria Formosa nature reserve and even* **Faro since it is the meeting point between the swampy Ria and the open ocean*. It’s a real sight to see, but it’s also highly advised to avoid swimming at the meeting point. The collision of these waters forms strong tides that can pull you into deep waters with such a strength that swimming against it, is simply impossible.

© André Jesus

Being so quiet and untouched by human-made structures also makes Barrinha a perfect place for wildlife to flourish. Many birds nest and rest in the dunes, and a lot of aquatic life, from the aforementioned crabs and shellfish to fish and mollusks, find the area a perfect feeding ground.

© André Jesus

All these things combined make Barrinha not just a great beach but also an excellent place for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and fishing - also if you want to find pretty shells this is the place to go!

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