a VirtualTourist member from New York City
I have seen all of the Western coast including Odeiceixe and Aljeizur (which I liked, more or less).
I went to Lagos and Portimao and disliked them both due to them being overbuilt and a bit ugly with "sprawl."
I was wondering if the region between Tavira to Fuseta offers more a natural, scenic charm with beautiful beaches, charming smaller villges, and less ugly modern over-development that seems to plague the Algarve?
For example, Monte Gordo on the far East looks a bit horrifying and the opposite of what I'm looking for:
It's completely different, the west (Odeceixe, etc) it's high cliffs and the atlantic ocean. Tavira-Fuseta is at Ria Formosa (a natural lagoon) so it's a shallow coast with barrier islands where you have the long sandy beaches.
The barrier islands and much of the coast between Faro and Monte Gordo are within the Ria Formosa National Park and are therefore protected from most development. The islands are well worth visiting. There are no proper roads on the islands and therefore no cars. Local people use boats as most would use cars.
There are regular ferries (frequent in summer) from Olhão to Culatra and Armona and also from Cabanas, Fuseta and Tavira across to the nearby islands where the beaches are found. There are also tourist trips from Faro and other locations.
Fuseta itself looks a bit rough at first (especially if you arrive by train!) but it is a proper working town and not a resort in any sense of the word. Santa Luzia is another quiet and pleasant place. At nearby Pedras D'El Rei you can actually walk on a rather rickety footbridge across the very narrow strip of water onto the Praia do Barril on the island. Or in summer there is a little train that rumbles slowly across the 1km of sand to the seaward side.
The train was originally built to carry fish across from the ocean side of the island to the landward side avoiding a detour of several miles for the boats, but nowadays it carries tourists. It's diesel by the way. Picture
The national park ends to the east of Tavira at Cacela and Monte Gordo, as you suspect, is a high rise resort. Between Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo António, north of the N125 road and the railway, is a large area of semi-marshland also protected from development.
There is a coastal walking and cycle path all along that part of the coast, almost all of it away from the roads.
www.ecoviasalgarve.org has the details.