During our SeaBookings team meeting in May, we decided to try out our famous caves tour to Ponta da Piedade by SUP in Lagos. SUP means stand-up paddle boarding. You’ve probably already seen people doing this sport. They stand on a large and stable board and move forward using a paddle.
This excursion SUP in Lagos was great fun. For Fábio and Femke it was the first time they tried SUP. Lianne and Bo already did it a few times before.
Rise and shine early birds! At 8am we were ready to try some stand-up paddle boarding in Lagos. The meeting point was at Praia da Batata and it immediately felt like a vacation in beautiful Lagos. It was actually really special to be the first ones on the beach, what a privilege!
The sun was already nice and warm, and everyone was preparing to get ready. Carrying our boards and paddles to the beach and putting on sunscreen. Most of the people of our group never did stand-up paddle boarding before, so we got a very clear safety briefing before entering the water.
A beach-class is given before we get into the water
Two friendly instructors guided us along the way and showed us some nice and hidden beaches and caves. There was always one guide in front of the group and the other one behind us, which gave me a very safe feeling.
Luckily we were able to take some amazing pictures and videos with our own GoPro, but no worries if you don’t have a waterproof camera, because the guides took some great snapshots as well!
The scenery is unique
Everyone could paddle at their own pace and enjoy the scenery from a unique perspective… but we had to watch out because the sea was not super calm. Instead, there were some small waves and now and then people fell off their board into the water.
Luckily, I managed to stay on my board until just before arriving back at Praia da Batata. Yes, indeed, just before arriving back, a wave caught me as well and I fell in the water! 😉 but there are worse things a refreshing dive in the sea, right?
We event ventured into some caves
I confess I’m not a morning person but waking up a bit earlier than usual for this unique experience SUP in Lagos was surely worth it! SUP in Lagos was a great team building event for the SeaBookings’ team. It was nice to see how all of us enjoyed despite some having done it before and others not.
We did not have the best conditions as the sea was a bit choppy and on some parts, we faced some Northern wind, also known as “Nortada”. However, this was actually fun as it gave another twist of a challenge to the SUP tour to Ponta da Piedade. Along the way we saw some beautiful rock formations and secret beaches like Praia de Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Praia do Pinhão.
And of course, a group photo!
If you like being active and being close to nature, I strongly recommend a SUP tour if you’re in Lagos and would like to explore the famous rock formations of Ponta da Piedade. Doing the tour so early in the morning really makes sense to avoid the crowds that start around 10AM. Oh, and another advantage of a SUP tour is that you leave no trace 😉
At SeaBookings, we can say we all love SUP. It’s surely one of our favourite ways to explore the coastline and your fitness level doesn’t matter. If you’d like to know more about stand-up paddle, about different tours in Lagos or any other tour in the Algarve, feel free to contact us any time.
Lianne, responsible for the Spanish market and content/translations at SeaBookings, went to Lagos and tried out this unique sunset cruise in Lagos and shares her experience:
For Sergio’s birthday, I organised a champagne sunset cruise in Lagos and honestly, I couldn’t wish for a better experience than with Chris and Luis on board of their luxury boat in Lagos. At the marina of Lagos, Chris was already waiting for us. After having a drink at the marina, he gave us a warm welcome and brought us to the boat where he introduced Luis, his partner in crime! Together they are already partners for over almost 3 years and giving away unforgettable experiences to customers who are willing to enjoy their fantastic boat.
A warm welcome by Chris and Luís
Together with friends and family, we went on board. We could sit comfortably in the sun or the shade, while Chris guided us safely outside the marina to show us the fantastic coast of Lagos. In the meanwhile, Luis came and sat with us to tell us more about the history of Lagos. Luis speaks many different languages and this worked out well. Because the grandmother of Sergio only speaks Portuguese, and as I am not familiar with this language yet, it was good to have Luis with us for some explanations in both languages! If you wonder how many languages Luis speaks, he is a real polyglot with Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French and German! Impressive, right?!
Welcome to the Marina of Lagos
First, we sailed along the coast of Lagos and got to know a lot more about the amazing rock formations, sea caves and golden beaches of the Algarve coast. The waters of the Atlantic were quite rough because of the start of the so-called “sueste” which creates lots of waves. First, the plan was to stop at the bay of Lagos, but because the sea was too rough, Chris and Luis decided it was better to set sail to Alvor. With a thrilling speed ride, we headed to the coast of Alvor. On our way, we got the opportunity to sail ourselves and this was a very nice experience!
The boat is very comfortable!
In Alvor, the ocean was calmer and we could enjoy some champagne, rosé and snacks on board. It was nice to have this special moment together. Chris and Luis made sure we all had a drink and something to eat. What is better than taking sips of your champagne and see that your friends and family are enjoying themselves? We could relax and listen to some nice music at the background. Even Sergio’s grandmother was very happy to sit in the sun and enjoy her champagne!
Feel the luxury!
After having some quality time on board together with our beloved ones it was time to take a dive into the ocean! With the nice colours of the beginning of a sunset (and a little tipsy of the champagne), it was very nice to just jump in the ocean and floating around the boat enjoying the nice boat tour in Lagos we had so far! After our dip in the ocean, it was time to get back on board. Chris and Luis provided us with some towels and after a quick change of clothes, it was time to go back to Lagos. It was very nice to see the local and regional area around Lagos and to watch the sunset while we headed back to the marina.
I also had the chance to feel like a captain!
Sergio also wanted to share how he experienced this special birthday gift:
This was a unique and effortless experience with Chris and Luis, they truly do complement each other as a team and made us feel ‘at home’ from the get-go. Chris with his calm friendly approach taking full control of his pride and joy and charismatic Luis providing endless stories and curious facts about the region. Even being a local myself, I was fascinated with his knowledge of Lagos and its surroundings. They provided us with everything we needed (booze :p) and knew when to step back and let us just enjoy the moment. I want to thank them again for the experience and highly recommend this tour to everyone.
Grandma had the day of her life!
Did you know that the champagne sunset cruise in Lagos is perfect for wedding proposals? Chris and Luis did this many times and they are always keen to make the process memorable! Or do you prefer to visit Ponta da Piedade or Benagil? Almost everything is possible when you book this private luxury boat! I am pretty sure we will go again the next time we are in Portugal. You can chat with your friends and family and share experiences while at the same time get to know the Algarve coast a little bit better.
Benagil, Benagil, Benagil – everybody wants to visit Benagil! Benagil is one of the most famous sea caves in Portugal. It is a very impressive rock formation, and a visit there is a Must-Do during your holidays in the Algarve.
The rock formations of Algar de Benagil can be found close to Lagoa. It is located close to the small fisherman village with the same name. So if you are on holidays anywhere else in the Algarve, you might not know how to get to Benagil cave. That’s why we want to help you find out how to get from Faro to Benagil cave.
The Benagil Cathedral is just one of the many impressive caves of the area
Faro is located further East in the Algarve. Since Faro has the only airport in the Algarve, it is quite likely that most of you land in Faro. And if you stay around that region for your stay, this doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on visiting Benagil cave.
Let’s see how to get from Faro to Benagil cave, shall we?
Personally, we really like to discover the Algarve by train
Bus or Train from Faro to Lagoa
To get from Faro to Benagil cave by public transport, you can go by bus or train to Lagoa. To go by bus, the easiest option is to get the Eva bus. The bus ride takes about 1h30 and costs around 6€ one way. The bus from Faro leaves from the Terminal Rodoviário, which is close to the Museum, so very central.
To go from Faro to Benagil cave by train, you take the train from Faro to the station Estombar-Lagoa. Again, this takes about 1h30 and costs around 6€ one way. You see, it is not very different from the bus. Faro Train Station is just next to the bus station, so just as central.
Once you get to the station of Lagoa, you can get a taxi from Lagoa to Benagil. This costs about 10€. Alternatively, you also have the option to get on the Bus Line 38 from Lagoa to Benagil. However, this bus doesn’t run very often so if you like to be flexible, it might be easier to just get a taxi to Benagil.
The boat tours from Benagil have many departure points, which might be easier to reach than the Benagil Beach itself.
Rent a car from Faro Airport
The easiest way to get from Faro to Benagil sea cave is by just renting a car. In Faro, you have many different options thanks to the airport. There are a lot of car rentals at the airport, so you can choose the best one for you.
Prices can vary from 15€ in low season to around 50€ in high season per day, just depends on what you’re looking for. Just be aware that most car rentals require a security deposit of around 1500€ and you need a Credit Card to rent a car in Faro.
To get from Faro to Benagil cave by car, you can either go on the National Route N125 or the Freeway A22. On the N125 you just stay until you reach Porches and from there you have all the signs already. This takes about 1 hour. The drive on the A22 is faster, however here you pay some fees (around 5€ each way). Also, you don’t actually save much time. So we suggest you take the “scenic route” along the N125 and save the toll fees for some ice cream.
From Carvoeiro, for example, we have hourly departures to Benagil, all year round!
To visit Benagil from Vilamoura by boat is also the best way because you actually get to see many other caves and grottos along the way. Benagil isn’t the only sea cave in the Algarve. The entire Algarve coastline is full of it. And on a boat trip from Vilamoura to Benagil, you can see all of them between Vilamoura and Benagil, like Praia da Marinha.
The whole coastline is unique and impressive, so a boat tour is worth it!
Therefore, in order to get the most of your experience and to get to know the region, the best way to get from Faro to Benagil cave is on a boat. And on top of exploring the coastline, you can also just relax on board and even get a nice tan.
If you join a boat tour to Benagil, you can even use a paddle board. This allows you to really enter the caves of Benagil and the region around it.
We hope we could help you to find out how to get from Faro to Benagil cave. If you have any other questions, just send us an email!
How to choose the Benagil boat tour in Algarve that suits you most? If you’re in the Algarve, a visit to the incredible Benagil cave is a true must. I think we know this by now 🙂 However, there are so many boat tours to Benagil. On SeaBookings, we have more than 30 experiences that involve visiting the cave of Benagil.
There are so many rock formations and caves to see!
We recommend choosing your Benagil tour based on the following criteria:
First of all, we should consider the departure point of your Benagil tour in Algarve.
On almost all cave tours, the departure point is the same as the endpoint. So, you can base your choice on where you’ll be staying. There are tours to the Benagil cave from Lagos, Portimão, Ferragudo, Carvoeiro, Albufeira and Vilamoura. The most Eastern location where the cave tours depart from is Vilamoura (closest) to the airport of Faro. The most Western departure point for the Benagil grotto tours is Lagos (closest to Sagres).
From Lagos, you’ll go on a rigid inflatable boat.
Then, once you’ve chosen where you’d like to depart from, you should consider the duration of your boat tour.
Of course the duration of the Benagil boat tour in Algarve is directly related to price. The shortest Benagil grotto tours are one-hour trips and start at 25€ per person. The longest Benagil boat tour in Algarve are full-day tours of 6-7 hours. Most of the full-day tours to Benagil include a BBQ lunch on a secluded beach. The prices for these day-trips range from 45 to 60€.
From Vilamoura, we have catamarans for up to 42 pax
When choosing your Benagil cave trip, it’s also important to be aware that there are different types of vessels that do these trips.
The most commonly used boats are the typical “cave-boats”. These boats take 9 to 11 passengers and one boat driver. There are also a bit larger versions of these boats, up to 18 passengers, departing from Portimão. These Benagil boat tours are ideal because they are small enough to enter the smallest caves and manoeuvre through the most narrow rock formations. Taking into account this perspective, of course, the smaller the boat, the better.
Then, we have rigid inflatable passenger boats. These boats are smart if you depart from a Marina that’s a bit further from the Benagil cave, like Lagos, for example.
In fact, the RIBs are very fast, being able to cover a larger distance in less time. Another alternative is a more traditional boat. From Portimão, we have a very charming Portuguese traditional boat that does go to the famous cave.
Feel the luxury on a yacht!
For a more comfortable and luxurious experience, we recommend the luxury yachts that we have in Portimão and Lagos. These motor yachts have a closed cabin, as well as a nice sundeck. In Lagos, this boat even carries along a SUP board, so you can get closer to the caves by SUP.
If you like sailing, you can join a full-day sailing tour from Portimão or Albufeira to visit the Benagil cave. The sailing yacht will carry along a dinghy to be able to access the Benagil and other caves.
On the full-day BBQ tours, from Portimão, Albufeira and Vilamoura, you’ll also visit Benagil. As the boats used for these tours are very big, most of the tours have the possibility to step over to a smaller boat to get into the caves.
Another thing you should consider is if you’d like to go on a private Benagil boat tour, only for your group.
Chartering a boat is very nice if you’re looking for a more intimate experience. You’ll have the boat just for yourself and your friends, family or partner. Private charters are ideal for special occasions like wedding proposals, birthdays and bachelor parties.
Being able to stop for a drive when and where you want (subject to the sea conditions, of course), is a big plus of a private charter. And on most boats, if you rent it privately, you can play your own music and bring your own drinks and snacks. Private charters to the Benagil cave start at 200€ for a motorboat up to 5 people (and a skipper).
The famous rock formations of Marinha are very near Benagil
Once again, we’d like to remind you that swimming to the Benagil cave can be dangerous. Believe us, it can really be dangerous. Accidents are, unfortunately quite frequent.
There are a lot of boats going in and out the Benagil cave and swimmers may be overseen. In addition, there may be unforeseen currents that even the better swimmers can’t deal with.
Another reminder is that local regulations don’t allow passengers to disembark off the boats in the Benagil cave. This means that, by boat, you won’t be able to get off the boat and stand on the sand in the Benagil Cave.
However, all boats will enter the cave as much as possible (subject to the sea conditions) and stay there a few minutes so you can calmly admire the impressive cave and take some amazing pictures.
SUP is a great choice if you want to get into the cave
If you really want to get off in the cave of Benagil, we suggest a kayak or SUP tour, to safely do so.
We hope we managed to help you choose the Benagil boat tours in Algarve that suits you most. Feel free to book online or let us know if we can help any further. Specially in high season, we recommend booking a few days ahead to guarantee your seats. Enjoy Benagil!
Wow! I didn’t know that it was possible to visit so many beautiful caves along the Algarve coastline between Portimão and Marinha. Departing from Clube Naval de Portimão, we were all provided with a life jacket before starting our boat ride to pick up a few more people in Ferragudo. Ferragudo is literally in front of Portimão. By boat, it took us approximately 5/10 minutes to reach this cute and authentic fishermen’s village.
There are so many rock formations and caves to see!
Once everyone found their place to sit, we sailed along the most impressive rock formations of the Algarve where we passed by the most impressive caves I have ever seen. Really, if I think about it, we saw between 15 – 20 caves along the way, including the famous Benagil cave.
Many may wonder how you would get to the Benagil caves? With a Benagil caves tour of course! Now I know for sure, the safest and most fun way to explore the Benagil sea cave is by boat! But not only Benagil with its golden sands is worth a visit. The skipper knows exactly which caves are worth taking you besides Benagil. Believe me, you will see many more impressive caves and maybe Benagil is not even the most beautiful one! I was super impressed by the bright purple colors we saw when entering the caves. Most caves have two names, one Portuguese name and one touristic name. The skipper knows them all and is more than happy to show you to which they owe their name.
Abílio, our fun and knowledgable skipper
Yes! We finally did a Benagil caves tour with our team! This time, we decided to join a tour to Benagil and Marinha. The boat tour had two starting points. You could board either in Portimão, at the Clube Naval, or in Ferragudo. This is great because you can choose what suits you best. We decided to start the tour in Portimão. Near the Clube Naval, there are many free parking spots, so this was ideal as we arrived to Portimão by car.
The arches of Marinha are worth a visit
At the Clube Naval, the meeting point for this cave tour to Marinha is at the gate in front of the Museum. It’s very easy to find. Just look for Abílio, the skipper and he’ll take you to the boat. Abílio is a super friendly local who has spent almost all his life “in” the sea. He once was a fisherman and a few years ago started to take travellers to enjoy the stunning coastline and caves in between Portimão and Benagil.
You’ll cruise by Carvoeiro
It’s a true family business. Marisa, Abílio’s wife, does the sales. You can find her friendly smile on their ticket stand in Ferragudo. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet Mariana, their daughter. Mariana and Abílio are great guides as they know the rock formations and other curiosities about the region like no other. They’re proud locals who are happy to share some interesting facts with you. Both guides speak French, along with Portuguese and English.
The “Devil’s Eyes”
We can highly recommend this Benagil caves tour. We were all impressed by Abílio’s skills to manoeuvre his 12-seats boat in the smallest caves and rock-formed alleys. Abílio has a great sense of humor and most likely, you’ll so now and then we surprised with some sudden accelerations! Another reason why we recommend this trip is that, because you depart from Portimão, you also get to see the caves in between Portimão and Benagil. Other boat trips to Benagil are more focussed on the caves around Benagil and Marinha. But this tour will take you to uncover many caves and rock formations that are less crowded and almost as impressive as the famous Benagil Cathedral. Don’t forget to wear a hat, sunscreen and just enjoy! It’s recommended to book ahead to assure your seats.
The Benagil Cathedral is just one of the many impressive caves of the area
The Benagil cave is the most impressive sea cave in Portugal. As a result, it has been the most popular one to visit in the Algarve.
In fact, the Benagil sea cave in Portugal was listed in the world’s “Top 10 Coolest Caves” published by American online newspaper The Huffington Post in 2014. And since then, featured in many blog posts all across the internet, it has became a very popular place to visit.
The south coast of Portugal is called the Algarve. The Algarve coast is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal. It’s known for amazing summers, impressive coastline, and idyllic beaches.
The Algarve coastline has many imposing grottoes, cliffs, rock formations, and white beaches.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered if you want to go to the Benagil cave.
The famous grotto is just one of the many, that stand out and is a “must see” on your next holidays in Portugal.
Benagil is not just about a famous cave, in fact it’s a small fishing village, located on the south coast of Portugal, the Algarve.
It’s a traditional village, with fishing facilities, restaurants, and a beautiful beach. The village can be found between Praia do Carvoeiro and Armação de Pêra. The closest city is Lagoa.
The grottoes are situated 150 meters east to the beach, Praia de Benagil. They are located in the so-called “Algar de Benagil”.
How to get into the cave
There are many ways to get into the cave, by boat, by SUP, by kayak and swimming (not recommended). The sea cave is only accessible by water.
To go into the caves you have several options:
Boat trips – There is a suitable boat tour for everyone. There are also a lot of variety of boats.
SUP tours – For the more sporty holiday makers, this is the way to discover the amazing coastline. Paddleboarding along the coastline is refreshing, sporty, and makes you feel healthy and happy. The SUP tours allow you to get into the cave beach.
kayak tours – How much fun to share a kayak with your partner, while enjoying the amazing weather, coast, and beaches. You can also rent a kayak, but we recommend the tours for all comfort. The kayak tours take you to beaches with golden sand, where you can refill your energy for some more golden coastline.
As these tours are very popular, we require you to book in advance. If you want to join one of the kayak or SUP tour, make sure you have enough swimming experience. As you also need to make sure that you know how to go to the departure location of those tours, by booking online, you will receive an email with exact location.
Can you swim to the cave?
Yes, you can swim to the cave, but swimming there is not recommendable. The tides may get high and you may not be able to swim back safely and you never know what kind of currents there are below the calm water surface.
Besides the many boats that continuously come along, may lead to dangerous situations. Many accidents have happened along the last years.
After all the best way to get inside of the grottoes, are the boat tours.
During the Summer season there are many daily departures and during the Winter season frequency may be a bit lower, but the boat tours run all year round.
The duration of the boat tours vary from 1h to 7h. You can go on a small fisherman boat or on a big catamaran, among other vessels.
The coastline around Lagoa has many more amazing grottoes. On a boat tour, you can see around 10-15 grottoes.
An important component of the boat tours, are the small beaches, that can only be visited or seen by sea.
If you’d like to see more of the coastline beside the most famous ones, we recommend Ponta da Piedade. Ponta da Piedade are a set of incredible rock formations near Lagos.
Ultimately we recommend to do the boat tours in the early morning, as wind is calm and normally less movement around.
Join us on a boat tour
How to get to famous beach
Benagil beach is easily accessible. We recommend reaching the beach by car as public transport is not easy. In fact, the journey to the beach is already an adventure itself.
You might feel lost on the tight back roads of Lagoa, with a lot of curves and ups and downs. Thus, on the GPS, the best is to select “Praia de Benagil”. You will get there, no worries 😉
If you have not got a GPS, on the national road EN125, turn south nearby the Escola Internacional do Algarve (the International School of the Algarve, in Porches), and follow the signs to the beach.
The parking for the beach is very limited. If the official car park is full, you can leave your car along the main road.
The boat tours
We provide over 30 Benagil boat tours, all tours provide lifejackets. There are several kinds of boat tours that go allong the coastline. There are big catamarans but also small fishermen boats. What’s best depends on your own preferences.
The most traditional tour depart from Carvoeiro, a fisherman town next to the beach:
1h boat tour: This one hour boat tour will take you into the cave and show you around 10 other grottoes of the region on a small boat that can truly access into the grottoes.
1,5h tour: This is the perfect boat tour to enjoy the epic coastline and go a bit further up to the famous rock formations of Praia da Marinha. You’ll be able to make impressive pictures.
The boat tours to the Benagil cave depart daily from:
Dolphin watching in the Algarve is also one of the must do. It gives an amazing feeling seeing dolphins swimming in their natural habitat.
These dolphin watching tours cost €35 per person and there are several types of boats available. The dolphin watching sightseeing departs from almost all marina’s in the Algarve. We do recommend to book in advance.
Can you walk to cave?
Benagil cave is located just 150 meters next to beach, the inside can only be reached via the boat, kayak, sup or swimming.
Thus, you can walk up to the hole of the cave and see it from above, but you can’t walk to the inside.
Can we disembark inside?
New local regulations don’t allow boats to disembark passengers into the cave.
The only tours that allow you to get inside of the grotto are the SUP tours (stand-up paddle) and kayak tours. These tours have a very high demand so we recommend to book on time.
Booking a boat tour
In summer, the Algarve is very popular. The majority of the boat tours will be fully booked for the next few days.
Especially this boat tour can become fully booked for days as it’s one of the most popular tours of the Algarve.
As a result, we strongly recommend you to book in advance to avoid disappointment. By booking your tour online, you can guarantee your seat a few days ahead.
COVID-19 Update: Many families prefer to book a private boat to enjoy the coastline on a safe way. The private boats start at only 150€, thus def. worth contacting us for the best option for you. All tour operators have implemented all hygiene messures and even where recognized by a “Safe & clean” certificate.
The grottoes are a must for anyone visiting the Algarve. There are so many ways to discover this area, there is always a way suitable for everyone, any age or restriction.
We wish you a beautiful adventure to discover the Algarve coastline. If you’ve got any suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact us.
Are you planning to go on holidays in the Algarve and searching for a way to minimize your footprint while adventuring abroad? Look no further – Lianne, customer support and content/translations at SeaBookings, listed the best eco tours in the Algarve!
“I highly recommend coasteering for true ocean lovers as being closer to the ocean and nature in general, is impossible!” (Bo)
Coasteering is a very original, exciting and sustainable way to explore the Algarve. And that’s why this experience is on our list of eco tours in the Algarve. If you are looking for some adventure, then this sustainable tour to explore the Algarve coastline is the perfect activity to do.
Coasteering involves swimming, walking and jumping from cliffs, so you can imagine it is a very intimate way to explore the coastline! Would you like to know what our experience with this lovely sustainable tour was? Last summer we experienced ourselves how amazing coasteering is! You can read our experience here.
A solar boat is a great choice if you’d like to minimize your “travel footprint”
Yes, you read it right. We now have a boat tour departing from Faro that is fully powered by solar energy! This solar boat tour is one of the eco tours in the Algarve. And besides that, the boat is super quiet without the noise of an engine what makes it possible to approach animals without disturbing their peace. So, do you want to be part of the future, and enjoy a sustainable tour in Ria Formosa? This eco-friendly sustainable tour on a solar boat in Ria Formosa is an amazing way to explore the natural beauty of Ria Formosa without polluting nature!
Stand-up paddle is a favorite for environmentally-conscious travelers
Stand-up paddle tours are one of our favorite eco tours in the Algarve. A very peaceful way to start your day during your holidays in the Algarve is by doing this SUP grotto tour in Lagos.
Stand-up paddle is rather easy to learn and a great way to enjoy the sea. Before the busy tourism starts you will get the opportunity to discover the calm waters around the coast of Lagos. And we can promise you that hearing the sound of lapping water while standing on your SUP board is very nice and calming! Our dear colleague Nathalie did this sustainable tour in Lagos together with her dad. If you want, you can read her experience here.
“The light at this time of the day is just absolutely magical. Praia Dona Ana, usually a busy beach full of people, is a true paradise this early in the morning. Peaceful and quiet, with the calm and clean Atlantic Ocean in front of it. Only for this view of another beautiful day starting in Lagos it was already worth getting up so early.” (Nathalie)
Kayaking is great for families as each kayak takes 1, 2 or 3 people
This kayak tour in Vilamoura is on the list of eco tours in the Algarve because it’s a nice sustainable tour to do with the whole family! During two hours you will get the opportunity to explore the pretty coastline of Portugal and our experienced guides know exactly where to take you!
By kayak, YOU will be the engine! Do you like to kayak alone, with one other person or even three in total, it’s up to you! This sustainable tour in Vilamoura has single, double and triple kayaks. That way you can choose how you would like to explore the coastline.
We already mentioned that stand-up paddle tours are our favorite sustainable tours in the Algarve and this SUP tour in Benagil will definitely be the highlight of your holiday! Did you know that this tour allows you to enter the Benagil cave and admire the cave from inside while standing on the sand?
The experienced guide Bruno knows the area around Benagil very well and he is happy to share his passion for the nature of this region with you! I did this sustainable tour in Benagil together with my boyfriend. If you like, you can read more about my experience here.
Do you have more questions after reading this article or are you looking for more tips to discover the beautiful Algarve in a sustainable way? Please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]!
This is a guest post by Peter Jenkins, Owner and Luxury Villa Specialist, Sun-hat Villas and Resorts.
There’s something magical about The Algarve. From the instant you step off the plane, you are transported to a holiday haven and can feel an indescribable buzz; not just from the delightful climate, but also from the friendly locals, and let’s not forget the cuisine.
The region has become a hot spot amongst jetsetters who like a touch of elegance with their evening cocktails when overlooking the stunning beaches and enjoying the tranquility of the peaceful fishing villages. The area is also a firm favourite of chilled out surfers, hoping to catch some wonderful waves on Portugal’s widest swell. With such a wide offering, we have gathered a list of our top recommendations, ideal for a short weekend or spread out over a long relaxing trip.
The striking cliffs, impressive cliff-top fortress (and the most powerful lighthouse in Europe) can all be found in the glorious Sagres, which is one of the places to catch some waves – or at least watch some the cool surfers show you how it’s done! Check out Magic Seaweed’s handpicked guide for what to expect when out on the water.
After hitting the beach, Sagres is a fabulous place to spend your morning. With its joyful cafes this is a great spot to grab some breakfast (or brunch if you want a lazy lie-in). Terra is a great venue to head for breakfast. A glass of delicious fresh juice or a cup of roasting hot coffee teamed with either a nutella or peach filled croissant, can be one of the best ways to start the day. It is also a good option for vegetarians and vegans.
After an extremely active and revitalising morning, you may be tempted to treat yourself to a slightly more laid back afternoon. On the exciting drive to Alcoutim, you will be able to discover the picturesque countryside views and see the sights of its warm riverside beach. This is a cool place to rest and watch the cheeky fish occasionally jump in and out of the water.
After bathing at the beach, take a stroll in the cultural and historical town, steeped in culture with a Moorish castle, 14th Century castle remains and 17th Century fort.
Sunset: From surf to turf
One of the places we love to dine at is Almancil’s hilltop restaurant Parilla Natural. This stunning eatery features its own wine cave and offers visitors an outside dining experience amongst tall trees and charming candlelight. If you’re feeling chilly, fear not as there’s an inside eating area too! From the menu, we particularly like Surf and Turf paired with Batatas Fritas Caseiras (hand cut potato fries), and for drinks, be sure to try the Lemon Cheesecake Martini.
Climb the mountains
Foia – Highest Mountain in Algarve
The magnificent Foia Mountain, also known as Monchique, is the highest in the Algarve. Adventurists, who want to partake in the challenge of making it to the top, will be able to walk around the area with a local guide and come face to face with cooling water springs and views of the coastline scattered with attractive little villages. Be sure to pack a tasty picnic breakfast, whilst you enjoy the view from the top.
An afternoon in Albufeira
The old town of Albufeira is exceptionally captivating and is surrounded by a whole array of delightful restaurants and bars offering everything you could possibly imagine; from the imaginatively presented and tongue tantalising gourmet dining experience at Al Quimia, (some of the food is dished up in a goldfish bowl), to much loved authentic and inexpensive take-aways such as the Albufeira Gourmet Churrasqueira Take-Away, which serves mouth-wateringly good ribs and skinny fries.
The main square bursts into life in the evening with locals and revelers and the maze of cobbled side streets hold interesting hidden finds; it’s also great for finding a souvenir or too!
Sunset at Sea
Watch the sun as it comes down, whilst you’re cruising through the sea on a sunset boat tour. You’ll be able to witness all of the pretty colours of The Algarvian sun, whilst also visiting the moonlit caves, dancing under the stars, relaxing on the deck and taking a cooling night time dip in the ocean. Guests will be treated to one complimentary drink, and there’s also a bar on board for you to sample the local wines and beers. The tours depart from different locations like Vilamoura or Albufeira.
Book your accommodation on time
If you’re feeling tempted and want to plan your next Portuguese adventure, take a peek at the luxury villas in Vale do Lobo, and the rest of the Algarve, that Sun-hat Villas have available.
Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, went on a grotto boat tour in Lagos and shares her experience:
It was late February when we went to Lagos, Algarve, to visit my parents who live there. As my boyfriend had never seen the famous rock formations of Ponta da Piedade, we decided to join a grotto trip. The grotto trips in Lagos run all year round. In fact, each time has a year is special and unique as the light varies along the seasons.
Departure point of grotto trips in Lagos
Most grotto trips in Lagos depart from the modern Marina de Lagos. There are also grotto trips departing from Ponta da Piedade itself and from other locations, such as Praia da Luz. Personally, I really like departing from Marina de Lagos. Here, you have the chance to use the bathroom before and after the boat tour and also grab a coffee with a nice view.
We went on a boat with 4 other people and Joaquim, the skipper
When to do a grotto tour in Lagos
If you ask me what the best time of the day is to see the rock formations, it’s hard to answer. Some of the rocks are more illuminated by the sun in the morning, while others in the afternoon. I’d say going around midday is perfect, as the sun hits the water from above, creating a beautiful effect on the different shades of blue of the sea. However, if you’re planning to do this boat tour during the hot Summer months, you might prefer to do an early-morning trip (when there’s usually less wind), or enjoy a sunset boat tour.
Regarding the time of the year, I’d say these grotto trips in Lagos are marvellous at any season. In the summer it’s nice because the chances of a bright sun are higher. And also, if you choose the longer coastal trip, in Summer, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea. On the other hand, in the low season, from October to April, these grotto trips are more special as the coastline of Lagos is less crowded with other boats and stand-up paddle and kayak tours. In February, we enjoyed a boat tour with virtually no other boats around, giving a more peaceful experience. The downside of the low season is surely the unstable weather and sea conditions. For the grotto trips in Lagos, the sea should be extremely calm, otherwise, it’s simply too dangerous to cruise so close to the rocks and in the caves.
We went on a regular cave tour from the Marina to Ponta da Piedade which takes about 1h15. The boats are guided by one skipper and have 9 places. We were lucky to be skippered by Joaquim, o young local entrepreneur who, together with his dad, owns several boats to take people out and enjoy the gorgeous coastline of Lagos. After a quick safety briefing and explanation of what to expect on this boat tour, we were ready to leave the Marina.
Joaquim explained all points of interest where we cruised by and enthusiastically replied to all questions we and the other participants had. It was impressive how Joaquim managed to manoeuvre the small boat in between narrow alleys created by the unique rock formations around Ponta da Piedade. He knows these rocks and caves like no other and, according to the tides and sea conditions, he decided in which caves we could enter. Everybody on board was astonished by the beautiful colors of the red cliffs and the turquoise waters of Ponta da Piedade.
Most tours are circular, so the start and end point are the same
We highly recommend the grotto trips in Lagos to everybody visiting the Algarve. The tours are rather affordable and give us unique views over the characteristic coastline of Lagos. These boat tours are suitable for all ages, from 0 to 100, and given the comfortable boarding conditions, even people with less mobility are welcome!
If you’re planning your trip to the Algarve, the South of Portugal, holidays in Vilamoura can be a good choice. In our point of view, Vilamoura is one of the Algarve’s finest resort towns. If you go for holidays in Vilamoura, you’ll get so much more than just amazing beaches and a pleasant climate.
In the 80’s, Vilamoura was envisaged as an exclusive beach resort and elite golfing center. Today you can still feel this “exclusivity” as the town has matured into a modern and stylish holiday destination known for glorious golf courses, a trendy marina and outstanding tourist facilities.
Where to stay during your holidays in Vilamoura
We recommend you to stay within the modern marina development. In the Marina of Vilamoura you’ll be surrounded by charming restaurants, fancy cocktail bars and a chic nightlife.
In the Marina you’ll find some of the best things to do during your holidays in Vilamoura: boat tours and watersports. And from the Marina, it is only a short walk to the white sanded beaches.
Also, it’s only a short drive to the championship grade golf courses around Vilamoura. Vilamoura, and specially the Marina, has world class hotels and fine apartments.
The best thing to do in Vilamoura
Unforgettable boat tours and watersports
Most likely, your holidays in Vilamoura will mostly be spent around the Marina. Boasting a 1,000-berth marina, Vilamoura has a lot to offer in terms of boat tours and watersports!
For the ones who prefer a serene day out in the Atlantic, there are dolphin watching tours or coastal tours of a half or full day. There are super speedy jet boats and jet skis for the ones who are looking for an adrenaline boost. Sailing is also an option. Fishing tours in Vilamoura are also very popular, from shark fishing to family fishing tours.
In terms of watersports, how about enjoying a unique view over the Algarve while parasailing or you can go for the Action Pack and do several watersports with your friends for three hours.
Only a few minutes drive from the Marina of Vilamoura, you’ll find the five 18-hole golf courses that make Vilamoura one of the best locations for a golfing holiday in Portugal. Are you new to playing golf? This ultimate step-by-step guide for beginners may help you out 😉
In the Marina you’ll find agencies that rent quality clubs and provide transport to all of the major courses throughout the Algarve. There are five golf courses in Vilamoura:
Victoria (18holes – used for the Portugal Masters)
Pinhal (18holes Par 72)
The Old Course (18holes Par 73)
Millennium (18 holes Par 72)
Laguna (18holes Par 72).
All five golf courses are operated by the Oceanico Golf company. They have a worldwide reputation for the highest standards and excellent facilities.
Enjoy the beach
The beaches of Vilamoura are stunning. You’ll find soft white sands and crystal clear sea waters that are safe for families. You can enjoy and relax on the sun loungers while the water sports in Vilamoura (jet skis, banana boats and parasailing) will entertain “kids” of all ages.
There are two main beaches in Vilamoura:
Vilamoura Beach (or “Praia da Marina”) to the east of the Marina
Praia da Rocha Baixinha to the west of the Marina
Both of these beaches in Vilamoura have sun loungers to relax comfortably and lots of fun water sports to entertain the most active ones.
There are plenty of beach bars for delicious fresh meals and refreshments. There’s a third beach if you decide to spend your holidays in Vilamoura at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura hotel. The Tivoli Vilamoura has a private Purobeach!
Have fun in waterparks
For the days that the ocean is too rough to enjoy a boat tour or do some watersports in Vilamoura, there are many alternatives. The Algarve is great for kids and teenagers, who will love Zoomarine (a marine park in Guia) or the waterparks of Aquashow and Slide and Splash (in Quarteira and Lagoa).
Taste local culture
Holidays in Vilamoura are also interesting for those wishing a more cultural holiday. Within a few minutes drive you could visit the historic city of Faro, the capital city of the Algarve. The market town of Loulé is also a nice day tour.
Who goes on holidays in Vilamoura?
Vilamoura is great for holidays with your family. There are many excellent family hotels and in the town children will be welcomed in all restaurants, cafes and shops. Large groups who are on stag/hen do’s or simply looking for a cheap drink holiday don’t usually pick Vilamoura. For this sort of holiday Albufeira is more adequate.
Given its modernity and exclusivity, some visitors may find Vilamoura devoid of Portuguese charm and character. This is compensated by its outstanding tourist facilities and services.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Portuguese holiday destination, we recommend the historic city of Lagos or the charming town of Tavira for example.
Are holidays in Vilamoura expensive?
Holidays in Vilamoura are not the cheapest destination in Portugal. Vilamoura is known for exclusivity, so is marginally more expensive than the other popular resort towns of the Algarve.
In fact, Vilamoura is popular among travelers who are looking for a refined and luxurious holiday destination, with a preference to quality over cost.
In Europe, Portugal is a comparatively inexpensive country. In general, food, accommodation and transport are much cheaper than many other established holiday destinations like the Balearic Islands or Greece.
For the season of 2017 Vilamoura is expecting a sell-out summer, following the success of 2016. So, to secure the best prices, we suggest to book accommodation, flights and other things to do far in advance.
In fact, our advice is, if you are seriously considering a holiday in Vilamoura, to book accommodation now.
When to go on holidays in Vilamoura?
Vilamoura has long warm summers. Spring and Autumn are pleasant and winters are mild but unpredictable. During the winter Vilamoura has an equal number of bright days as wet days.
The high season is from July through to August. During these months the beaches are packed and most hotels are sold out.
June and September tend to be popular months with couples. These months before and after the high season are outside the school holidays and you’ll find a Vilamoura without the hordes of children. Weather is usually still fantastic during these months.
To enjoy the beach during your holidays in Vilamoura, we recommend traveling from mid-May until mid-October. The two ends of the season provide great value with last minute accommodation deals and cheaper flights.
During the winter season, tourist facilities in Vilamoura close down to fully reopen for Easter.
Most restaurants and cafes in the marina complex stay open year round. However during the winter the region will feel very quiet excepting Christmas and New Year, when there is a lively atmosphere.
How to get to Vilamoura?
The closest airport to Vilamoura is the main airport of southern Portugal: Faro airport. Faro airport is located 25km to the west of Vilamoura.
Faro is a major airport with flights covering the whole of Europe. As the Algarve is a popular holiday destination during the summer time, there is frequently a shortage of seats/flights in the summer. So, we advice to always book well in advance to secure the best prices.
Unfortunately, there is very limited public transport from the airport to Vilamoura. The route requires two bus journeys and takes between 1.5-2hours depending on connections. That’s why most visitors pre-book a transfer.
Transfersfrom and to the airport can be a private transfer or shared (mini bus or coach), prices per person range from €50 for private to €25 for shared. Another option is of course to rent a car.
Holidays in Vilamoura are great if you’re looking for a real taste of Algarve luxury. Vilamoura is one of the biggest private tourism resorts in Europe and is know to be one of the most prestigious in Portugal. Even if you are not staying in Vilamoura during your holidays in the Algarve, it really is well worth a visit, just to see how much the Algarve has to offer.