Tiny island just hours from the UK with flamingo spotting and the 'best beaches in the Algarve' | The Sun
EUROPE is home to hundreds of tiny islands, many of which remain unknown to most Brit holidaymakers.
While islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Capri are well-known tourist hotspots, there are plenty of other islands waiting to be discovered.
One of those places is Tavira Island, a tiny Portuguese island located inside the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Stretching for around 60km, the Ria Formosa Natural Park is a nature reserve that's been protected under Portuguese law since 1978.
The natural park is home to five barrier islands, including Tavira Island.
For nearly 50 years, the five inlets have created a unique ecosystem where both plants and animals thrive.
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Despite being protected under Portuguese law, holidaymakers can visit the island.
Tavira Island is located just a few miles south of the Portuguese city of Tavira on the Algarve Coast.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Tavira Island was an important centre for tuna fishing.
While holidaymakers can still spot old fisherman cabins on the island, its space is largely occupied by restaurants and other tourist facilities.
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One of the island's biggest draws is its beaches, which are said to be some of the most beautiful in the Algarve.
According to The Algarve Tourist Guide: "[Tavira Beach] is considered to be one of the best beaches in the Algarve Region."
While Travel in Portugal added: "Tavira Island has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best beaches on The Algarve."
Stretching for a whopping 11km, Tavira Beach is a sandy beach where holidaymakers can rent parasols, sunloungers, kayaks, and paddleboards.
There's also Barril Beach, which is home to an Anchor Cemetary where abandoned anchors from the tuna fishing era are displayed on the sandbank.
In addition to the plants and animals, the nature reserve is also home to around 20,000 different species of birds, including pink flamingos.
According to the local website Tourism in the Algarve, visitors to the island might be able to glimpse a flamingo, or two, during the ferry crossing from the mainland.
Holidaymakers can also book themselves onto guided Flamingo Spotting tours from Tavira, which cost €30 (£26) per person.
The tiny Portuguese island is also home to a handful of restaurants, including Museu do Atum, which serves salads and fish dishes.
Tavira Camping Park is the island's only overnight accommodation for holidaymakers.
Located underneath an area of pine trees, the camping park can sleep up to around 1500 holidaymakers.
Because the island is part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, the building of new houses is not permitted.
The law also restricts tourists from staying in homes and houses overnight.
Six daily ferry crossings operate from Tavira Town to Quatro Águas, with return tickets costing €2.50 for a full-paying adult.
Water taxis also operate from the mainland to the island, with journeys typically costing €18 for a one-way trip.
These journeys must be booked in advance online.
Tavira Island is also connected to the mainland via a footbridge.
After crossing the footbridge, holidaymakers can board a miniature train, which takes passengers to Barril Beach.
At a 33-minute drive, Faro International Airport is the closest airport to Tavira island.
Both Ryanair and British Airways operate direct flights to Faro from UK cities like London, Bristol, Belfast, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Birmingham, with fares starting at £15 for a one-way ticket.
In recent years, holidaymakers have been raving about the island on TripAdvisor.
One person wrote: "The beautiful Tavira island is well worth the ferry trip. Make sure you keep an eye out for the flamingos on the short journey.
"The island is massive with enough beach, for I don't know how many people, there are quiet spots and spots closer to the restaurants where you can hire loungers."
Another person added: "Take a short boat trip to Tavira Island to a fabulous quiet beach with gorgeous soft white sand."
But Tavira isn't the only lesser-known island that's flown under the radar in recent years.
The overlooked island of Patmos attracts famous faces like Julia Roberts, David Bowie, Richard Gere, and Tom Hanks, but is yet to become popular with British tourists.
Not only does it see temperatures reach 22C in the winter, but it's also home to colourful beaches.
Whitewashed houses line the coast in Patmos, and the town of Chora is home to tiny restaurants serving local Greek seafood.
The port town Skala has more shops and bars, where the cheapest drink is the local Mythos beer or island-grown wine.
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Meanwhile, the island of Naxos is cheaper the many of the other islands – with more goats than locals.
Don't want to leave the UK? We've found some beautiful British islands that are home to sandy beaches, clear seas, and dolphins.
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