By Lianne, customer support and content creation at SeaBookings.
This summer I’ve heard a lot of stories about this cave and it seems to be one of the most popular caves in Portugal at the moment. I was curious about what made this cave so special and worth a visit. On photos you see a large opening in the centre of the cave allowing a spotlight of sun to enter the cave. And around the Benagil cave you can find many more caves.
I knew from SeaBookings that new local restrictions do not allow you to disembark from the boat tours into the Benagil cave. You can take impressive pictures from the boat but for safety reasons it is not permitted to swim from the boat into the Benagil cave. If I really wanted to step on the sand of the cave I should do either stand-up paddle in Benagil or a kayak tour. And so to get the maximum experience, I opted for SUP in Benagil. Both tours are very popular so SeaBookings recommend booking in advance if you really want to experience the ecological way of navigating through the caves.
We had to get up early. The stand-up paddle in Benagil starts at 9am. Why so early? Well, as I already said, the Benagil cave is popular, one of the main attractions of the Algarve. It is incredible how many people want to see the Benagil cave. At 9am you are the first one on the beach giving you the unique chance to enjoy the quiet surroundings and nature at its best. You see the caves before everyone else arrives and disturbs the peace.
The SUP in Benagil takes about 3 hours, which sounds long but I can assure you time flies when you are having fun. It is an up close and personal experience of all the caves and not only Benagil, because the other (8!) caves are just as magical as the Benagil cave. For me, and for the rest of the group (total of 6 participants), this SUP in Benagil experience was very special, exploring the caves at your own pace.
But let’s start at the beginning. 9am is still very early and especially after a very cool traditional party at the beach in Lagos (Banho 29). But we made it on time and Bruno, the guide, was already waiting for us to get ready for the tour. Along with 4 other people we were preparing to discover the ocean and the caves. “Put loads of sunscreen, you will need it” said Bruno. Because of the reflection of the water it is easy to get burned. So we did. We then took our boards towards the beach where it was still nice and quiet. Bruno explained the do’s and don’ts regarding safety, how to navigate and which caves we were going to visit.
We had 3 hours so plenty of time to see everything and also to get to know all the secrets about the caves, all very well explained by Bruno. I am not going to tell you any of his secrets because you will need to do this amazing SUP in Benagil and discover it by yourselves. My first stand-up paddle experience was last year when I was in Portugal (see my blog SUP in Cascais). For the rest of the group it was their first time but that was no problem. Because we did the SUP in Benagil early in the morning., we had time to practise without any waves caused by passing boats. In the beginning, these waves were a bit scary but after a few minutes you feel more confident and later it was actually cool to try and keep on standing on your board when a boat passes by. Also therefore I would highly recommend going early in the morning.
If you go with Bruno you will have the full experience. He shows you very beautiful prehistoric well-preserved fossils and shells. If you go on your own you will never know this because you don’t know exactly where to look.
Different from other boat tours, during this stand-up paddle in Benagil you are more active, which makes it very special and unique. Before going on this tour I thought to myself “hmm I won’t be able to take pictures because there is a chance I fall into the water.” But no worries, Bruno thought about all this and he will take enough pictures during the trip with his gopro camera. If you really want, he will take your cell phone with him (as long as it’s sealed in a bag). That is nice because you can enjoy the tour even more without worrying about taking photos. Afterwards he will send you the pictures so you will have a nice memory.
After the tour we had a beer on the beach of Benagil with Bruno to look back at this amazing experience stand-up paddle in Benagil. He shared some more fun facts about the cave, the region and his experience as a guide with us.
The last important thing I noticed is that I saw people swimming to the Benagil cave. This is not recommended due to strong currents and tides. What makes it even more dangerous are the many boats coming in and out the Benagil cave. You can imagine what can happen if the people on the boat do not see you swimming. Accidents happen frequently, and to avoid them I would recommend a boat tour or even better, trying the more ecological way and do the stand-up paddle tour to the Benagil cave. On a boat or SUP tour, you’ll be able to go safely enjoy the Benagil cave closely. Besides that, there is a lot to secrets to see in the Benagil cave. On your own you will never know this. Thanks Bruno and thanks SeaBookings!