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.

Benagil cave

The Most Beautiful Coastal Towns in Portugal

Anthony Briggs, from Tuki Retreat, enjoys working in the hospitality industry and is dedicated to providing clients with the best  accommodation experience available. He shares his favorite coastal towns in Portugal with us.

Most countries in Europe are quite popular destinations that tourists from all over the world love to visit. One such European country that deserves a lot more attention and should be on your bucket list is Portugal. Despite being practically adjacent to its bigger brother Spain, the number of tourists visiting Portugal isn’t as huge. For this reason, it doesn’t get that much mention from the global tourist community.

With most of its towns conveniently situated near the coastline—each is unique and beautiful in their own unique way, making Portugal a perfect country to go visit if you’re looking for some peace and quiet on your travels.

Which Coastal Towns in Portugal Should I Go To?

With so many coastal towns in Portugal to choose from, you might want to start planning which ones to include in your itinerary right away. To help you decide which towns deserve your full attention, here are some Portuguese coastal towns you shouldn’t dare miss out on:

coastal towns in Portugal

Ria Formosa in Tavira

  1. Tavira

Located east of the Algarve region, Tavira is a coastal town that attracts relatively fewer tourists. But, it makes up for it by offering you a more authentic holiday experience—the Portuguese way.

  • Tavira has retained much of its ancient heritage with historic churches and buildings dating from as far back as the Moorish era.
  • The name Tavira comes from the Arabic word “tabira” which means “the hidden.”
  • The beaches in Tavira are also considered to be go-to destinations as most of them are unspoiled and protected by the Ria Formosa Nature Park.
  • The town’s calm ambiance and slower pace are a surefire draw if you want to get the best out of your vacation compared to the rest of Algarve’s resort-filled towns.
Benagil cave

Deaprt from the charming town of Cavoeiro to the Benagil cave

  1. Carvoeiro

Also located in Algarve, Carvoeiro is a relatively small fishing village with an unassuming vibe that might be a reason why even those who have already visited Portugal tend to overlook it during their entire trip. But underneath Carvoeiro’s quaint appearance lies a coastal town that would leave you asking for more.

  • The name Carvoeiro is said to have come from the old word “caboiere” which means “hamlet of ”.
  • Carvoeiro’s picturesque setting provides an idyllic view of the entire Algarve region.
  • One beach in Carvoeiro that isn’t as fully packed with tourists no matter the time of year and yet exudes its own charm is Praia do Paraiso, which literally translates to “paradise beach.” If that name alone isn’t enough to make you want to go there instantly, nothing else will.
  • A visit to the famous Benagil caves is a must when visiting Carvoeiro.

 

  1. Viana do Castelo

Located in the Lima estuary, Viana do Castelo is one of northern Portugal’s oldest coastal towns that once served as an entry point for explorers and traders from the 16th to 18th centuries.

  • A landmark you should be visiting while in Viana does Castelo is the Praça da República, the town square where you can find attractions such as:
    • Chafariz Fountain sculpted with ornate figures
    • Igreja da Misericórdia, a three-story church with an array of Roman arches, Renaissance balconies, and interestingly carved pillars
    • Paços do Concelho, the old town hall built in the early 16th century with its Gothic arches and Renaissance details
  • Viana does Castelo is also home to the Navio Gil Eanes, a former medical ship from the 1950’s that used to offer assistance to the town’s bevy of cod fishermen but now serves as a floating museum.
Peniche is one of the coastal towns in Portugal known for surfing

Peniche is one of the coastal towns in Portugal known for surfing

  1. Peniche

Located in the Oeste Subregion on Portugal’s central coast, Peniche is a coastal town that generates a slightly grittier feel as it remains a working port for fishing vessels.

  • The long beaches in Peniche generate a massive amount of surf breaks forming powerful waves which makes it an ideal location for water sports such as surfing and body boarding.
  • You can take a ferry ride as well from the town marina to visit the Berlengas Islands—one of the world’s first ever nature reserves where flocks of seabirds find sanctuary.

 

  1. Aveiro

Known as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro is the closest you can get to riding a gondola and exploring its artificial canals without having to go all the way to Italy.

  • The name Aveiro comes from the Latin term “aviation” which means “a gathering place for birds.”
  • When you get tired of seeing canals left and right in Aveiro, you can take a side trip to Costa Nova where dozens of the striped, multicolored beach houses and fishing shanties serve as a welcome visual treat.

 

  1. Cascais

If you’re the type of tourist, who believes that money is no object at all to having the perfect European getaway, the resort town of Cascais located just west of the Portuguese capital might be the one you’re looking for.

  • Cascais’ accessibility from Lisbon makes it a favored tourist destination for those who prefer to stay close to the capital.
  • West of Cascais is a natural rock formation known as the Boca do Inferno which translates to “Hell’s Mouth.” Occult magician Aleister Crowley was said to have faked his own death there, but don’t let that and the sinister-sounding name of the place scare you away from the chance to explore Boca do Inferno’s breathtaking seaside cliffs.
  • Cascais is also home to the Hotel Palacio Estoril, a 5-star hotel that was used to shoot parts of the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

 

Some tourists visiting Portugal for the first time might stick to its more well-known cities such as Lisbon and Porto, but if you prefer to take the road less traveled and is looking for an adventure, you will never forget, a journey to these coastal towns in Portugal would guarantee just that. Taking advantage of what each Portuguese coastal town has to offer would also help you appreciate Portugal’s very long history as a maritime nation while enjoying your European escapade at the same time.