We tried SUP in Aljezur

Holidays in Odeceixe – time for a SUP tour!

This year we decided to try the northern west coast of the Algarve region of Portugal for our summer holidays. We rented a nice rural house in Odeceixe, walking distance to the beach of Odeceixe. This house ended up being the perfect spot for some active holidays with the family. On the program we had: biking to Odeceixe Beach, running to Amoreira Beach and doing SUP in Aljezur.

The setting is ideal for a calm SUP tour with no crowds

Of course, on SeaBookings blog, we’ll tell you all about the SUP in Aljezur. We joined an afternoon tour which was something new to us as we’re more used to early morning tours. The SUP in Aljezur was a river tour, on the Praia da Amoreira, the perfect setting for a peaceful stand-up paddle tour! We’ve done SUP a few times before, in Lagos, Cascais, Madeira… And this SUP in Aljezur would be the first river-tour. We were very lucky with calm and warm weather

The tour is ideal to do some cleanup long the route!

We met the friendly guides at the car park. We were super curious about how they aim to be the SUP school with the lowest carbon footprint. The guides provide SUP tours to discover the most beautiful and remote beaches, rivers or lakes of the Algarve. Some of these unique spots are Arrifana, Amoreira, Odeceixe and Barragem da Bravura. 

Regarding the gear used for the SUP tours, Antoine and Gaylord proudly explained that they use the best eco/tech stand up paddle boards from Starboard and Patagonia wetsuits. These high-quality brands try to be as much environment-aware as they can. Starboard, for example, has a mission to not only to make the best boards in the world, but also the best boards for the world. We learned they do so by using recycled material and EVA. And did you know that they have innovative “Paddle Picks”? You can attach this little accessory made by recycled fishing nets to a paddle to easily pick up floating pieces of trash while you are out for a paddle. Of course, we gave some use to these “Paddle Picks” along the tour to help keep the waterways clean!

Welcome to the calm side of the Algarve!

After this interesting and passionate introduction, we were ready to hit the water. It was the first time we were taking little Lu of five years old on a SUP tour, so we were all super excited! Lu started the SUP tour on the front of her dad’s board while we were heading river inwards. We were going with the currents so we hardly had to paddle. Of course, the guides warned us that we’d also have to paddle back, so against the current but that they could help if needed. 

Doing SUP in this setting is sooooo relaxing!

The scenery of this SUP tour was stunning. I knew that Praia da Amoreira was one of the prettiest beaches in Portugal, but I had never enjoyed it from this perspective. It was a very pleasant ride. While the guides were sharing some of their SUP experiences and stories about life in Aljezur, time flew by! Lu jumped from one board to another and had a blast. Children just love being so close to the sea!

After about 45min of a paddle with the current, it was time to head back and paddle against the current. Me and Xiko like some challenge, so we did not accept the help offered by the guides and had a true full-body workout

You can do SUP your way, chilled and relaxed or make a workout!

Along the way, we still did some stops to use the Paddle Pick to take some litter and leave no trace, or better, leave the “playground” cleaner than we found it. The main littler we caught was related to fishing activities or beach-goers. Glad we could give back a bit this way! 

It feels really good to enjoy nature and to help to keep it clean

The tour ended at the same place where we started. We were all exhausted but super satisfied. We still had a nice talk with this dream team while we were putting the gear back in the van. Sandy, Gaylord and Antoine are the ideal guides to take you and explore Aljezur by SUP! Besides a lovely SUP tour, you’ll learn a lot about the region and about sustainability. We’ll be back soon!

Las mejores playas en Lagos

Our top 6 beaches in Lagos, Portugal

Discover the best beaches in Lagos, Portugal

We’ve been living in Lagos for almost 18 years now. Living in Lagos is great and the beaches in Lagos continue to surprise us every single day. Lagos is worldwide known for its stunning beaches.

In fact, there are beaches for all tastes. Around Lagos you’ll find very long white sanded and super cozy secluded beaches. The beaches in Lagos are all stunning and all different.

Our favorite 6 are probably Porto de Mós, Praia da Batata, Meia Praia, Praia do Pinhão, Praia D. Ana and Praia do Camilo. But is was hard to choose and we also like the beaches that are a bit further away from town.

One of the best ways to spend a warm day in Lagos is on one of the many beaches along the town’s coastline.  

During the high season, some of the most popular ones can become quite crowded. To find a more non-touristic quiet beach, we recommend you to hire a car and drive a few kilometers.

Please don’t forget to protect yourself against the heat and sun and bring a sunshade, hat, sunscreen and water.

Here is a selection of our favourite beaches in Lagos:

Praia Porto de Mós, Lagos

Praia Porto de Mós

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia Porto de Mós

Porto de Mós is one of the bigger beaches in Lagos. Its long stretch makes Porto do Mós ideal for a long beach walk.

Also, given its dimension, you’ll always find a nice quiet spot to spread out your towel, read a book or just relax. Praia de Porto de Mós is a sandy beach. Only on its far right there are some rocks.

Porto de Mós has got two beach restaurants. Campimar on the left, is an ideal beach side restaurant-bar, for a meal or snack at any time of day. António beach bar is excellent to quickly grab a smoothy, beer, water or icecreams. António Restaurant also serves nice dinners.

Also among the locals, Praia Porto de Mós, is a popular spot on a Sunday afternoon on the beach and to grab some beers to end the weekend. There are plenty of parking places (free).

You can also reach the beach by foot from the city town, but it’s quite a walk, about half an hour. You can also go by bus.

Praia da Batata, Lagos

Praia da Batata is very popular

Praia da Batata (or Potato Beach in English) is one of the most popular beaches in Lagos for the young generation. During the summer months, this beach is packed with young guys.

After going out at night in Lagos, this is where the youngsters go for an after party or to enjoy their hang-over in the sun.

Praia da Batata is also searched for by active travelers. From this beach you can go on a stand up paddle boarding tour or kayak tour to Ponta da Piedade.

If you like sports and want to explore the coastline of Lagos in an active way, kayak and SUP are definitely a must thing to do while staying in Lagos.

Meia Praia, Lagos

The best beaches in Lagos: Meia Praia

The best beaches in Lagos: Meia Praia

Meia Praia is the biggest beach in Lagos. Meia Praia’s wide-opened 4 km stretch of beach make it ideal for a long walk or run.

Also to enjoy the sun, this is one of the favourites of the locals with many regular visitors to Lagos. If you like a spacious beach and water sports, then this beach is for you!

Lagos Beach bars

Along the beach you can find beach bars for all tastes. Some fancier ones with fine seafood and other surf bars with live music.

You must stop in at Bar Linda, on the beginning of Meia Praia, by passing the Marina of Lagos. Here, you can enjoy nice juices and delicious honey chicken wings.

We usually go here after a long beach day to drink a beer with some wedges and fried onions.

Bahia Beach bar is great if you like Brazilian or African live music. Every Sunday afternoon around 18:00/19:00 the party begins.

Nice atmosphere and great music to dance and have fun are guaranteed. We recommend the delicious tapas, shrimp pasta and cocktails.

shrimps - best things to eat in Lagos Portugal

Shrimps – best things to eat in Lagos

A bit further away from Lagos, but still on Meia Praia, you’ll find a few more beach bars. Eat a nice freshly caught grilled fish at Gaivota’s beach bar.

This beach bar is definitely a great spot to eat fresh fish and enjoy a Portuguese “Vinho Verde” (Green Wine).

Bar Quim, is THE place to eat shrimps. The best fried garlic shrimps in Portugal are these ones.

While enjoying your meal with a nice local white wine, don’t forget to appreciate the amazing views while your kids play in the sand in front of the terrace.

If you are up for some watersports, you definitely need to check out some of the activities on Meia Praia, Lagos.

From Parasailing to Jet ski rental or windsurf lessons, there’s a wide range of things to do at Meia Praia beach in Lagos.

Praia do Pinhão, Lagos

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia do Pinhão

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia do Pinhão

Praia do Pinhão is a really nice alternative to the larger busier beaches in Lagos, near the city center. Just like Dona Ana and Camilo, Pinhão is stunning.

The rock towers around the beach create shaded areas as the sun makes its way through the day. That’s also why this beach is ideal on the windiest days.

The long staircase from the road and parking place to the beach provide you with a good daily workout.

Praia D. Ana, Lagos

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia D. Ana

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia Dona Ana

Praia D. Ana is one of our favorite beaches in Lagos. The award winning Praia D. Ana (or Dona Ana Beach in English) is considered the best beach by many references in tourism. In fact, it is one of the most popular beaches in Lagos.

Despite the fact that this beach has suffered some modifications to increase it sandy area, it is still stunning as always. Similar beaches to Praia da Dona Ana, are Praia dos Pinheiros and Praia dos Estudantes.

Please bear in mind that this beach is not recommended for people with physical disabilities as it is known for the many stairs to the beach. Parking might be difficult during busy summer months but the effort will surely be worth it.
For people with physical disabilities, we recommend to go to Praia da Luz.

Praia do Camilo, Lagos

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia do Camilo

The best beaches in Lagos: Praia do Camilo

Praia do Camilo is a sheltered little beach cove on the road from Lagos to Ponta da Piedade.

The beauty of this beach is apparent when you look at it from top, where you can park your car. Its crystal clear waters and impressive cliff formations create this little jewel.

As a result, Praia do Camilo is one of the best beaches in Lagos for snorkeling because the shallow rocky ocean floor attracts plenty of marine life.

Above all, the beach of Camilo is nicely sheltered from the winds on most days, which also provides for calmer waters

Just minutes walking, you can have an amazing walk over the top of the cliffs of Ponta da Piedade.

To access this beach, good physical condition is required as there are extremely long staggered stairs. You can park on top of the beach, next to the restaurant.

The restaurant, “Camilo”, is a must for fresh fish lovers or seafood, even though its prices are a bit above the local average. You can also grab a light meal, a beer or an ice-cream there.

Bonus: Sagres

Cabo São Vicente tour

Sagres

From Lagos, the Southwest point of Europe, Sagres, is only a 30 minute drive away. There are also busses that connect Lagos to Sagres. In Sagres you have any amazing places with less people. Most of the beaches are known for their spectacular surfing conditions.

Therefore, you can feel the surf-vibe in the village of Sagres with its surf shops, surf bars and surf camps. Consequently, we recommend Sagres for travelers who look for nature, more quiet beaches of for a surfing experience.

Sagres is definitely worth seeing if you are staying longer than a week in Lagos.

We hope this list of our favorite spots and the reminder that Sagres is worth a visit too helped you to plan your holidays. Let us know if you happen to discover some other beaches that are worth sharing here and enjoy!

We tried out our new dolphin watching tour in Lagos!

By Nathalie, content and translations at SeaBookings, who’d like to share her experience on a dolphin watching tour in Lagos.

When I heard that we had a new operator offering dolphin watching in Lagos, of course, I took the opportunity to try out this new experience myself. I have already been dolphin watching before, but every tour is special and seeing dolphins in their natural habitat is an amazing experience – over and over again! 

So me and my friend went to the Marina in Lagos to try out our newest dolphin watching tour in Lagos. The tour is run by a local group of family and friends, who are all from Lagos. Thus, they are real locals and know all about the region.

You can get really close to the dolphins

The skippers already have a lot of experience in boat tours in Lagos, and especially with finding wild dolphins. So they are the perfect crew to take you out on a dolphin watching tour in Lagos since they love what they do and also love to share their knowledge about the sea and dolphins with you.

The boat is a very modern RIB! It has a lot of power and can go really fast, yet at the same time, it’s surprisingly stable and very comfortable. You can tell it was chosen with much love and to provide clients with a safe and enjoyable dolphin watching trip!

Taking pictures of the dolphins is not easy, but you may be lucky!

We took our seats on the boat and off we went to look for dolphins in Lagos. Once we passed the Marina of Lagos, the boat took up the speed and we raced over the sea. It was a day with perfect conditions: no wind, no waves and a really glassy sea! 

Finding the wild dolphins

Thanks to the experienced crew, it didn’t take long until we found our first group of dolphins. It was a rather small one, about 10 dolphins. However, there were a few baby dolphins!

One of them, so we were told, must’ve been born no longer than 2 or 3 days ago, as it was still really tiny! It was the smallest baby dolphin I have ever seen, and surely a lovely sight.

The ride itself is a true adventure!

Our skippers slowed down the boat so we could stand up to get a better look at the dolphins.

The dolphins would swim underneath our boat and jump up next to it, so we could observe them really closely. We had some questions about how dolphins bread, and the skippers were happy to provide us with all the answers! 

We stayed for a while with this small pod of dolphins, enjoying the view of them swimming and jumping around in freedom.

While they continued their journey, so did we. The skippers decided to go a bit further west to look for a bigger pod of dolphins.

The water was very calm!

And a bigger pod we did find! While the first group was already very beautiful and special, this group of about 50 dolphins was simply huge.

They were all around, wherever you looked you could see fins coming out of the water and dolphins jumping around! 

The dolphins of this pod seemed even more adventurous than the first one! About 10 of them even surfed the waves behind our boat.

We didn’t even know where to look, as there were so many dolphins in every direction! It was simply impressive and definitely my most adventurous encounter with dolphins in Lagos

We stayed for a while, with dolphins jumping up really close to our boat. It seemed like they were doing a show for us and they enjoyed it a lot showing us how high they could jump.

It was really special seeing so many dolphins together, swimming in the sea and just enjoying their life! 

After this magical encounter, it was time to return back to Lagos. We were west from Lagos, so on the way back we actually drove past some of the main attractions of the coast, like Praia da Luz, Praia Porto de Mós and of course the famous Ponta da Piedade. Our skipper also decided to show us how much power the boat really had!

He went full-speed in front of the beautiful beaches of Lagos, doing steep curves and slides that made us scream with excitement!

It actually felt like riding on a rollercoaster and was definitely a fun ending to this incredible dolphin watching tour in Lagos!

Wild dolphins in the middle of the sea…

Shortly before we reached the entrance to the Marina, the boat slowed down and we were back to “reality”.

After coming off the boat, it actually felt like we had been in a different place for the duration of the tour and were now landing in real life again.

This dolphin watching tour in Lagos was definitely a highlight for me and my friend. The sheer amount of wild dolphins we found and the fun rollercoaster boat ride on the way back in front of the fascinating coastline of Lagos was an unforgettable experience. If you’re on holidays in Lagos, make sure you don’t miss our on this unique boat trip!

Island boat tour from Olhão

We went on an Island boat tour from Olhão

Island boat tour from Olhão to discover Ria Formosa

Lianne, responsible for the Spanish market and content/translations at SeaBookings, went on holidays in the Algarve and tried out this unique boat tour from Olhão to the Nature Park of Ria Formosa and shares her experience.

An Island boat tour from Olhão is great to discover Ria Formosa

This summer I decided I wanted to go and experience something else. I’ve been to Portugal many times, but I never saw Ria Formosa’s natural park.

It appears that you can do an island boat tour from Olhão to discover the Barrier Islands of the famous Ria Formosa

Olhão is situated in the South of Portugal, in the Algarve. Faro is only 20 minutes driving away. Just before you arrive at the airport of Faro you can already see the beautiful islands.

It looked so beautiful that I convinced my boyfriend to come along with me to do a nice island boat tour from Olhão. 

Isn’t this irresistible?

At 12h30 the tour would start at the Marina of Olhão. We got a clear description of where we had to be at the marina so it was very easy to find the boat.

The friendly guide named João gave us a warm welcome and asked us if we would like to get more information during the tour in English or Portuguese.

There were people on board who spoke both languages so it was no problem for him to give us a nice explanation in English and Portuguese.

Departing from Olhão we picked up more people along the way. We sailed through the big lagoon in front of Olhão along Deserta Island and explored Farol Island with its nice lighthouses.

During the boat trip, João told us more about the area and that we would stop for lunch at Culatra Fishermen’s Town in Culatra Island.

Sérgio has never done this trip before either and he is from the Algarve!

Culatra has only 1000 inhabitants and is interlaced with wooden walkways. Because there are no roads or vehicles, this is a unique place to be! Their main income is fishing and we got the opportunity to discover the island for 1.5 hours. 

Fresher than fresh!

If you want it is possible to walk to a beautiful beach (20 minutes walking), but we preferred to have a nice lunch to eat some fresh fish. João took us to a very good place where they caught the fish in the morning. It was delicious!

The scenery is simply paradise-like!

Once we finished our lunch, we walked through the streets of Culatra en then we headed back to the boat. The next stop was Armona Bay and Armona Island.

We stopped there for 30 minutes and decided to take a fresh dip in the ocean. It was very nice to cool down in the crystal clear waters because it was a hot day!

White sanded beaches all around the place!

We continued our boat tour to back to the Marina of Olhão and along the way, we saw the famous tuna factories. As well we were told that there is an area where you can observe seahorses.

In total this island boat tour from Olhão took 4 hours and we had an amazing time! Thank you very much, João for giving us more information about these beautiful landscapes in the Algarve!

Do you have more questions after reading about our this blog or are you looking for more tips to discover the beautiful islands of Ria Formosa? Please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]!

Madeira whale watching

A must on Madeira: whale watching boat trips

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon: 

As you may have already read on this blog, we’ve been on a short 3-day trip to Madeira island Portugal. Our goal was to check out some of the coolest things to do on Madeira and share them with you. One thing is a true must on Madeira: whale watching

To see such a huge animal as a whale in the wild is a unique experience

To see such a huge animal as a whale in the wild is a unique experience

We went on a dolphin and whale watching tour on Madeira with departure from the Marina of Funchal. After a very complete briefing about what we species we could expect to find, about the tour itself and about respect for nature (which is very important for this tour operator), we headed down to the boat. 

The boat used for this whale watching tour is a rigid inflatable boat (RIB). These boats are known for their speed and safety, ideal for a dolphin watching trip! And another good thing is that, opposed to other boats, on RIBs, it’s very rare to get seasick. Francisco, who usually gets seasick when sailing is the proof! On the RIB, a super fast boat, he did not feel sick 😉

We had quite a laugh when boarding because some of the other passengers would put their life-jackets the other way around and one lady even decided to sit backwards on the seats! It was hard to keep our laughs! Be careful not to do this! :p

Whales are usually a bit shyer than dolphins but some come really close by

Whales are usually a bit shyer than dolphins but some come really close by

As soon as we left the marina we immediately went full gas towards the deep blue of the Atlantic. On this 2,5 hour dolphin and whale watching trip in Madeira, we were lucky enough to spot three species. Did you know that around the year, 28 different species of cetaceans (dolphins and whales) can be spotted around the island of Madeira? Some of the most commonly spotted species are common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, sperm whales and pilot whales. And sometimes even other sea life like turtles are spotted from the speed boats.

As the Atlantic is rather big and as we deal with wild animals and they are not fed, this tour operator counts with observers on land. It may sound strange, but these observers help a lot! From the mountains, they give directions to the skippers to easily find the animals. Once the skippers track the animals on their GPS,  it’s time to speed up and head to the whales and dolphins to watch them closely. Chances of finding some species of cetaceans are, like this, very high on Madeira. However, it’s a true adventure and on some tours, it can happen that no dolphins or whales are sighted.

Common dolphins

Common dolphins

We saw common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales very closely. Actually, we even found two pods of common dolphins and with the first spot, some of the passengers had the opportunity to get into the water to swim with dolphins. I was one of them and trust me, this was one of the experiences in my life I’m most grateful for. You can read my full experience here.

While near to the mammals, this tour operator respects a certain distance to not disturb the animals and give you some time to observe them. But not too long, also to respect the animals. The marine biologist onboard will keep you updated about what’s going on. As we found the species, we were informed about them and their behavior. Feel free to ask any questions. The guides love to tell about our favorite animals!

Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins

We had a great time onboard. The boat ride itself is really worth it. The sights over the coastline of the island, like Cabo Girão and Ribeira Brava, are stunning. And the speed is a lot of fun!

Swimming with wild dolphins is a very special experience that we recommend to all you sea-lovers!

Swimming with wild dolphins is a very special experience that we recommend to all you sea-lovers!

To watch whales and dolphins (and maybe even other marine life) in their natural habitat is a truly unique experience for the whole family in the middle of the Ocean. This experience is more than just watching these magical creatures. You’ll get to know a lot about cetaceans and particularly about the ones around Madeira Island. Feel free to book your dolphins and whale watching trip on Madeira online and feel free to contact us about any questions you may have.

SUP Benagil

SUP vs Kayak to Benagil

How to choose: SUP or kayak to Benagil

The Benagil cave is one of the most famous sea caves in the Algarve. You can visit it by boat, SUP or kayak. If you’re with an active group of people looking to visit the Benagil cave, a kayak or SUP tour should be on top of your list. Both tours allow you to get off in the Benagil cave, while on a boat tour, you stay in the boat.

But what is the best choice for you to visit Benagil cave? Let us show you by comparing SUP vs Kayak to Benagil

SUP or kayak to Benagil

The epic Benagil cave is just one of the many caves of the region

SUP to Benagil

Joining a SUP Tour to visit Benagil is a super fun way to visit the famous caves. Have you ever tried SUP before? It’s short for Stand-Up Paddleboarding, and it’s very easy to learn. You stand or knee on one of the big SUP Boards and use a paddle to move in the water.

Even if you have never done SUP before, it’s no problem. The SUP guides will always give you a little introduction at the beach about what you need to know. After that, it’s just up to you to grab your board and start paddling.

A Tour to do SUP to Benagil is perfect because you can really access the cave. By going by SUP to Benagil, you can explore also the region just around the Benagil cave with its beautiful beaches. SUP to Benagil also allows us to get really close the Algarve coast.

During a SUP Tour to Benagil, we can even paddle through some arches and grottos! It’s a real adventure. And the best thing is that you also stay very fit while doing SUP – it’s a great exercise for core, legs and arms. Whenever it gets too hot, just jump in the water and after you can easily climb on the board again!

SUP to Benagil is a great choice for people looking for a new challenge or even all SUP-lovers out there. The SUP Tours to Benagil are only done as long as the sea conditions are nice and calm, so you don’t have to worry about the waves. With the Stand-Up paddling, you can also go to the little beach inside the Benagil cave. 

You can join the Stand-Up Paddle tour to Benagil in the morning or in the afternoon. We even have a sunrise SUP Tour to Benagil, which is the perfect way to visit the caves. Early in the morning, you can admire the cave without the masses of tourists and boats.

Kayak to Benagil

Choosing a Kayak tour to Benagil is also a great way to visit the cave. Going by Kayak to Benagil is a lot of fun for the whole family. On our kayak tours to Benagil, there is always a support boat next to it. This makes it a great choice for groups where some might not want to kayak and prefer staying on the boat.

Kayaking is very easy and you don’t need any previous experience for it. You sit comfortably in the sea kayak together with one more person usually and paddle together to explore the Algarve coastline. Admire the beautiful caves around Benagil beach.

Each kayak takes 2 people

Each kayak takes 2 people

On our boat and kayak tour to Benagil, the biggest part of the tour is done by boat. Once you get closer to Benagil, you can switch over to the kayak and get really close to the caves and grottos.

Let the guide show you secret passages in the rock formations and take you to hidden caves and grottos. With the kayak, you can also access the beach inside the Benagil cave! That’s why it’s a great choice to visit the famous Benagil cave by kayak! And of course, you also stay fit and get a nice tan during the kayak to Benagil. 

Benagil boat tour in Algarve

The Benagil Cathedral is just one of the many impressive caves of the area

SUP vs Kayak to Benagil

Alright, as you can see, both a SUP or Kayak Tours to Benagil have a lot of great arguments for it. But what should you choose? A tour to do SUP or Kayak to Benagil

It really depends on the type of person you are and the group of people you are looking to do the tour with! If you are looking to visit Benagil cave with a group or family, that is generally quite active and love sporty adventures, we can highly recommend choosing the SUP to Benagil cave.

However, if somebody on your group doesn’t want to do something too tiring or even if you are travelling with little kids, then kayak to Benagil is the perfect choice for you. There you always have the option to get back to the boat or just stay on board while the ones who want go out exploring the coastline!

But in the end, both SUP and Kayak to Benagil promise to be a lot of fun and a great experience during your holidays in the Algarve! If you need more help making up your mind, just send us an e-mail to [email protected]!

swim with dolphins in Madeira

To swim with dolphins in Madeira – a dream come true

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon: 

From all sea experiences that we provide on SeaBookings, swimming with dolphins has always been the one that fascinated me most. In Portugal, you can only swim with wild dolphins on the islands of the Azores and Madeira. The first time I was on Madeira, I did not have the chance to make this dream come true. Fortunately, the second time, I made my dream to swim with dolphins in Madeira come true. And it totally exceeded my expectations.

This is what you'll see. Yes, they come that close!

This is what you’ll see. Yes, they come that close!

For me, regarding all tours involving cetaceans, like the whale and dolphin watching and swimming with dolphins tours, it’s very important to be sure that they’re done with respect for nature. At SeaBookings, we try to select the tour operators that are truly involved with the species’ welfare. In Madeira, we have a great partner regarding this aspect. 

During the briefing before the tour, we were informed about what the tour would be like and what we could expect. We also learned about the different species of dolphins and whales that can be found around Madeira, some resident and some migratory. And we also learned that to respect the animals, we can only spend limited time next to each pod, to not bother them too much. Besides, they are not fed, so they are truly wild! Being truly wild animals means that these tours are always a real adventure. You never know what species of dolphins and/or whales you’ll find in the open water of the middle of the Atlantic, if any! 

The experience to swim with dolphins in Madeira takes place on the same speed boats and schedules as the dolphin and whale watching tours. This is great because if you go with a group and not everybody wants to swim, you can still go on the same tour. To swim with the dolphins, a few conditions are a must: the dolphins should be of the species Common Dolphins (Delphinus), they should not be feeding, not have calves and be calm. Only then, you can calmly get into the water and swim with dolphins in Madeira.

You'll be holding on to the boat with a rope

You’ll be holding on to the boat with a rope

It was with the second pod of dolphins we found that all criteria to be able to swim were satisfied. Oh damn, I was so excited. Was I really going to make the dream to swim with wild dolphins come true? Yes, the skipper and the marine biologist onboard, gave me and two other “swimmers” (on a boat with 12 guests) an “OK” to calmly get into the water. 

1, 2, 3, here I come, dolphins! The water was warm, 22ºC and I was wearing a bikini and lycra and a snorkel mask. With one hand, I was holding a rope that was tight to the boat. The boat was moving, but very very slowly. The dolphins were all around me. All around. They’d look at me, come closer, and swim away. They were super curious. I could hear them talk, their noises are so cute! And loud! They are big! Common Dolphins can reach up to 2,5m and that’s very big if you’re swimming next to them!

Wow, here I was in the middle of the Atlantic, at a depth of more than 2000 m, surrounded by 15-20 friendly and curious dolphins. What an amazing feeling. While writing this, I can still feel the excitement!

While holding on tight to the boat, I was going above and under the surface of the sea. And when above, I was telling the people on the boat how amazing this was! I needed to share my excitement! I’m not sure for how long I was in the water, probably only for 5 minutes, but this was more than enough. I will never ever forget these unique moments underwater, these indescribable encounters with such a magical species!

We were lucky enough to spot several species

We were lucky enough to spot several species

I feel extremely grateful for this experience swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat and I strongly recommend it to all nature lovers out there. To swim with dolphins in Madeira was with no doubt one of the most remarkable experiences of my life!  Feel free to contact me per email if you’ve got any questions about this experience 🙂

Benagil Caves Tour

We visited the Benagil caves with the family

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon:

We were on holiday in Carvoeiro, a small fishing village in the Algarve, with my boyfriends’ family, this year. We had 4 kids in the group, from 1 to 6 years old. The kids just love the beach, so most of the days, we spent the mornings on the beach and the afternoon by the pool. Praia Vale Centeanes and Praia do Carvoeiro are our favorite beautiful beaches.

Praia Vale Centeanes is very nice for the kids to play

Praia Vale Centeanes is very nice for the kids to play

As we were staying in Carvoeiro and given that “I work with boat trips”, of course, I had to invite the family for a boat tour to the Benagil caves. We decided to go on the one-hour cave tour from Carvoeiro beach to the Benagil caves. One hour would be more than enough for Zé, Lu and Graça (6, 5 and 4 years old), while Inês would stay on land with the youngest, Teresa of 1 year and 3 months. Teresa could also join the tour but Inês prefered to stay on land with her.

We were lucky to be able to walk to the beach where we’d depart from, Praia do Carvoeiro. We took the 10AM tour, like Teresa from the tour operator recommended, so it would not be too hot. After putting on some sunscreen and a hat on the kids, we were ready to put on lifejackets. Lifejackets are mandatory on this Benagil cave boat tour. The kids were super excited with their colorful children-life jackets.

The rock formations of the Algarve are truly unique

The rock formations of the Algarve are truly unique

To board the boat, you’d take your shoes off and step onto the boat from the edge of the beach, where the water starts. Then, once we were all in the boat, the guys on the beach pushed us deeper and the skipper turned on the engine. As we were a group of 7, we only had one other couple on board. There was plenty of space and of course, the youngest ones wanted to venture to the front-seats of the boat.

You'll enjoy the coast from a different perspective

You’ll enjoy the coast from a different perspective

We immediately turned left, in Eastern direction, toward Benagil. Our skipper and guide presented himself and told us about the boat ride we were going to do. As soon as we moved away from the shore, we could appreciate a unique point of view over the stunning coastline of the Algarve. The red-brownish colors of the cliffs contrasted nicely against the blues of the sea and the sky. The skipper started telling us about the rock formations we were cruising by. As a local, he knew all the names of the sea caves and rock formations and gave us some tips about the things we could do in the region.

We even ventured into some very dark caves!

We even ventured into some very dark caves!

It was very nice to cruise by the beaches we had visited before and see them from a different perspective. We were impressed about how the whole thing about the Benagil cave tours is always about Benagil. In fact, it should not be Benagil cave but Benagil caves. Plural. Because there are so many caves in the region of Benagil! Some of the caves we visited before reaching the Benagil cave were even more dreamy than the Benagil sea cave. There was one cave that was truly unique. It had water falling from its eye in its ceiling and the sun shining through. It was incredible!

The contrast of the colors is amazing

The contrast of the colors is amazing

The guide quickly understood that the kids loved the moments of acceleration, so he started to do some speedy curved when we’d exit a cave. The kids loved it. The smiles on their faces were priceless. Another moment we will never forget, was when we got into a very dark cave. You could see a feeling of admiration and a slight fear in their eyes. It’s really nice to be guided by a local guide as he’ll tell you the names of some of the caves and rock formations and some of the history (or stories) behind them. The kids just loved the “pirate cave”, the “love cave” and the “turtle cave”.

The epic Benagil cave is just one of the many caves of the region

The epic Benagil cave is just one of the many caves of the region

Yes, there are many hidden caves to explore around Benagil. That’s why departing from Carvoeiro is a big plus. You get to see a lot of the Algarve caves in between Carvoeiro and Benagil. After seeing the imposing Benagil cave, it was time to turn around and head back to Carvoeiro. We do so, by moving away from shore and then: speed! We had a blast on our way back. The wind in our faces tasted just great!

The whole coastline is unique and impressive, so a boat tour is worth it!

The whole coastline is unique and impressive, so a boat tour is worth it!

We’d like to thank the whole team at Carvoeiro beach for this amazing experience with the family. The children loved it, but of course the adults too. We were all very surprised by the number of caves the Algarve coastline offers and impressed by the driving skills of our skipper! This tour is highly recommended if you want to visit the Algar de Benagil and for you, one hour on a boat is enough 😉 If you’d like to go up to the arches of Marinha, you can join this 1,5-hour tour from Carvoeiro to Praia da Marinha.

Canyoning in Madeira

Coasteering and Canyoning in Madeira – the full island experience

By Bo, co-founder of SeaBookings, working from Lisbon:

We had such a great time on our 3-day trip to Madeira Island this Spring! We did the trip to explore some of the best things to do on Madeira and then to share our experience with you. Well, if you love nature and some adventure, this pack that combines coasteering and canyoning in Madeira is a must. If you relate to the following, please read further! Adrenaline, nature, sea, mountains, cliff jumping, climbing, challenge, fun… 

Imagine doing rappel on this 28m waterfall!

Imagine doing rappel on this 28m waterfall!

Both experiences should be done in separate days, first because you’ll be tired after each of them and second because the canyoning can take quite some hours, depending on the level you choose. Our coasteering experience took about 2 hours while the canyoning in Madeira took almost 5 hours, excluding transport to and from the meeting points. 

The coasteering in Madeira usually takes place on the road to the famous Ponta de São Lourenço. The canyoning tour we did started and ended near Pico da Urze, where the Levada do Alecrim starts. You can meet the guides at the starting point of each experience or they’ll pick you up and drop you off after the experience. Let me tell you how our experience was:

Coasteering in Madeira

As soon as we landed on Madeira Island, the guides, Fabrício, André and Francisco, came to pick us up at the airport to head to the best spot for coasteering in Madeira. With only 3 days on the island, we had no time to lose!

Coasteering Madeira

The gear is rather hot, but after your 1st jump, you won’t feel it anymore 😉

The gear you use for coasteering is very similar to that for canyoning, except that for canyoning you’ll also use a harness. Besides, you’ll wear a special wetsuit, shoes (I recommend to request one size above your usual size), life vest and a helmet. All the gear is provided, so you only need to bring sunscreen, swimsuit and a towel.

Once we were fully equipped, we walked for a few minutes to reach the shore. These few minutes were enough to feel the heat in our wetsuits. The first cliff jump into the Atlantic felt amazing! You immediately forget about the uncomfortable hot gear (the same applies for the first jump with the canyoning). 

We spent about 90min having fun while climbing, swimming, cliff jumping and exploring dark caves. Time flew by. Coasteering is a truly amazing experience as you feel a very strong connection to nature, to the sea.

Just don't think to much! And JUMP!

Just don’t think too much! And JUMP!

After a small hike up the cliffs, the van was there with Francisco, waiting for us. Damn, that was a great welcome to the island! We had a blast, we even commented that only for this coasteering experience in Madeira, it was worth it to fly from Lisbon for just one day! We were lucky enough to have two more days and the next one would be for canyoning!

The canyoning adventure started with a nice hike in the mountains

The canyoning adventure started with a nice hike in the mountains

Canyoning in Madeira

Canyoning in Madeira is what coasteering is to the sea, but for the mountain: a very strong connection. So, the combination of these two experiences, sea and mountain gives you a full immersion into Madeira’s stunning and pure nature!

For the canyoning, we drove to the meeting point with our own rental car. From there, we met the canyoning guides, Peter and André, and got geared up with the same gear as the day before plus the harness. This experience was done in a group, with a few more adventurous travelers. 

The hike on Levada do Alecrim was very pretty!

The hike on Levada do Alecrim was very pretty but tough, especially the way back!

For canyoning in Madeira, there are several levels. The levels are based on your level of experience, fitness and love for adrenaline. As we already had some coasteering experience, we joined a level 2 canyoning experience. It was rather tough and I’d say we’re above the general level of fitness. So, if you’ve got no experience and are not very active in your day to day life, you want to start with a level 1.

You'll be impressesed by such a pure nature

You’ll be impressed by such a pure nature

The main difference between our coasteering and canyoning experiences? The water in the mountain is waaaay colder! It was about 10-12ºC! Fortunately, the suits keep you warm but your hands will feel it! Another big difference was the jumping technique that is more “bomb-like” as the water is more shallow. Ah, and the highlight of the canyoning was definitely the rappel we did for about 28m along an impressive waterfall! And the highest jump we did was about 14 m high!

It's hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

The guides will take some epic pictures!

On both experiences, we had a great time! We live in Portugal and had no idea that Madeira had these amazing experiences to offer. We feel like we lived the island, both the mountains AND the sea to the fullest. The next time we visit Madeira, we’ll surely do both experiences again, maybe at another location. So, if you’re an active-nature-loving person looking for the best things to do on Madeira, trust us: try coasteering and canyoning in Madeira!

It's hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

It’s hard to take pictures of the immense beauty!

If you accept our suggestion, and you’re booking coasteering and canyoning in Madeira, don’t forget: request one shoe size above the usual and, even though a cereal bar is included, you might want to bring another one to keep your energy levels up (for the canyoning). Enjoy!

SUP in Lagos

We went to do SUP in Lagos

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.

SUP is a fun team building experience

SUP is a fun team building experience

Here’s our personal testimony about doing SUP in Lagos

Lianne’s experience:

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

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

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

We event ventured into some caves

Bo’s experience:

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!

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.