I often wonder why we locals do not visit it more often...the only good excuse I find is that we are definitely spoiled when it comes to beaches.
The island of Culatra (actually Culatra is the name of one of the only 2 settlements on the island, also called Farol [lighthouse], the name of the other settlement at the westernmost end of the island) is a truly unique place.
During the year there are not so many scheduled boat trips to the island but in season you have maybe up to a half dozen per day. Typically the boats will do a triangular route touching at the island's 2 settlements and then returning to Olhão (mainland). Chances are you'll do at least one of these legs with a stop on the way to or back from the island.
I enjoy getting off at the first stop (whichever) and taking my time walking to the other one - meaning finding a nice spot at the beach (usually one where you don't see a leaving soul a mile out) taking a nap, swimming and moving on to the next spot until eventually reaching the other settlement.
You can enjoy/swim the lagoon (north) side but the ocean (south) is definitely the best.
Forget the settlements which are uncharacteristic although some people may find there a pleasant third worldish character kind of, and go for the truly unspoilt beauty of the rest of the island.
Bring whatever you need and enjoy. I always do.
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