Day visits: 22nd, 24th February and 7th March 2018
Olhão is the best place for provisioning for yachts at anchor in the area. The market in the red buildings on the waterfront is open daily – one general market with everything you would need in terms of fruit and veg, meat, and some stored goods (spices, honey, nuts), and the other dedicated to fish. On Saturday the market moves outside, with stalls all down the front adding general goods to a wider food offering. Well worth some time. There’s also a well-stocked chandlery on the front, a petrol station at the root of the water taxi / ferry pontoon and a decent sized Pingo Doche supermarket 5 minutes’ walk away.
Wandering around the town is worth some time, too – there is a trail marked between squares, with spooky and strange stories about local children/ghosts at each along with artwork and some public space. Mostly, the route is pedestrianised too so it is good for those with kids. If you take the ‘side entrance’ out of the Pingo Doche you’ll be treated to some great graffiti-art about life in the town in the past on the building walls around the corner, too. Well worth checking out.
In terms of getting there from the anchorages in the area, all of the guidance we had seen advised that visiting yachts were not welcome at the marina (which seemed, in any case, pretty tight for our boat). Some other cruisers dinghied over from Culatra, but with our 2.5hp engine and the kids in-tow we didn’t fancy that. So our first visit there we decided to anchor nearby on a calm day – we tried between the two marina areas right outside the market, but our anchor met nothing but weed, so we moved to a spot alongside the barges just before the shipyard slightly to the East of the fishing port. That was a 5 minute dinghy ride away from town, perfect for a couple of trips with the jerry cans to top up the fuel tanks, a bulk shop from the supermarket and a quick playground visit with the kids! We enjoyed the town so much that we ferried over twice from Isla Armona for more relaxed days in town. If we were there longer, I would have enquired about the possibility of tying up for a few hours on the outside towards the end of the water taxi quay, which had plenty of space – and on our last visit we saw one yacht doing just that.