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Praia do Barril Beach, Tavira
The Praia do Barril is one of the best beaches of the eastern Algarve, combining golden sands and clear waters with an insight into the heritage of the region. The beach was once the location of a small tuna fishing community and remnants of this past have been lovingly amalgamated into the tourist facilities of the beach.
A deserted beach, just a short walk along from Praia do Barril
The most notable feature of the Praia do Barril is the Anchor Graveyard, a rusting memorial to the former fishing fleet, which comprises of the anchors used for tuna fishing embedded into the sand dunes close to the beach.
Highlights of Praia do Barril Beach
The Cemitério das Âncoras (Cemetery of Anchors/Anchor Graveyard) – the permanent memorial to a dangerous and difficult profession that no longer exists within the Algarve.
The former fishermen huts, which have been converted into cafes, restaurants and shops, ideal for a leisurely day on the beach.
The mini-train that transports visitors the 1.5km from the mainland to the beach, which children will adore.
So why visit Barril beach?
There are other beaches which are closer to the popular resort town of Tavira, but the Praia do Barril is one of the finest of the region and is worthy of the effort to travel there. The Anchor Graveyard is a truly unique attraction of the eastern Algarve, with over one hundred anchors carefully arranged in rows, and slowly rusting amongst the sand dunes. Barril beach also tends to be slightly quieter than the beaches closer to Tavira, as tourists often choose the closest beach for their day basking under the sun……
The Cemitério das Âncoras
Traditional tuna fishing methods used to create a maze of nets, which would ensnare the large and powerful Bluefin Tuna. These complex structures required hundreds of anchors to secure the nets against the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean and the strength of the tuna. These fishing anchors are what line the sand dunes of the Praia do Barril and are a symbolic memorial to the decline of the tuna and the abandonment of this way of life. The rusting anchors of the Cemitério das Àncoras were placed in the sands during the 1960s when the livelihood became unsustainable and today there are no Bluefin Tuna in the seas of the Algarve.
The rusting anchors of the Anchor Graveyard
Details of the Praia do Barril and Ilha de Tavira
Barril Beach is part of the much larger Ilha de Tavira island which extends for 10 km from Tavira down to the town of Fuseta. The entire southeastern facing coast of the island is a glorious sandy shoreline and the region is protected by the Ria Formosa nature park, a haven for small saltwater aquatic life and migratory birds. This Nature Park designation has limited tourist development, which blights the central Algarve, and has ensured that the coastline has a pristine and unspoilt appearance.
The glorious beach of Praia do Barril
There are no roads to the Ilha de Tavira and the Praia Do Barril is the most accessible section of the island as there is a footbridge to the mainland. All of the other beaches on the Ilha de Tavira, including the beaches close to Tavira, require a ferry ride as there are no bridges. As the Ilha de Tavira has a shoreline of 10km it is very easy to lose the summer time crowds with a short walk along the golden sands. The next beach along from the Praia Do Barril is the Praia de Terra Estreita which tends to be even quieter than Barril and has a regular ferry to the fishing village of Santa Luzia.
The Praia do Barril has calm and clear sea waters that are safe for children and families. The sea temperature of the eastern Algarve tends to be slightly warmer than the western Algarve but is surprisingly cold when compared to the Mediterranean. On the beach a parasol and two sun beds can be rented for €16 for the whole day.
The Tuna Fishing Houses of Barril Beach
The small fishing community on Barril Beach was home to around 80 families during the tuna fishing season, from April through to September. The village was abandoned in the 1960s, with the depletion of tuna stocks, but today the small, whitewashed dwellings have been restored and converted into cafes shops and classic beach huts.
The shops and cafes on Barril Beach
The Praia do Barril Train
Barril beach is connected to the mainland by a miniature railway, which costs €3.00 for a return ticket. The 1km railway was originally used for hauling goods and freshly caught fish between the fishing community and the village of Pedras D’el Rei but today transports overly excited children and drained parents!
The mini train to the Praia do Barril
How to get to Barril Beach?
It is 5km from central Tavira to the Barril mini train and the edge of the beach. There is an infrequent bus service between Tavira to Pedras D’el Rei but there are no departures at the weekend. A single ticket costs €2.20 and Tavira bus station displays the latest timetable. A taxi ride would cost €5.00-6.00.
Praia do Barril bus from Tavira
One of the best ways to reach Barril Beach is to hire a bike and cycle there as the route follows part of the Ecovia do Litoral cycle path, a purpose built cycling route that one day will stretch the length of the Algarve. The route follows the M515 south west out of Tavira and passes through the pretty fishing village Santa Luzia. To walk to Barril beach from Tavira takes 1.5 hours and a pleasant extended hike is to return along the beach and catch the ferry into Tavira.