While many people spend their yearly vacations in Algarve, we only had two days in the region during our recent Portugal stopover. So because our time in Algarve was very limited, we had to be very selective in what to see and do. On this first-time visit we wanted to see the very best that Algarve has to offer. After some research I stumbled upon a picture of the Benagil cave and I was sold.
If there is one thing you must do in Algarve is take a boat tour to see the amazing sea caves in Cabo Carvoeiro area!
Benagil cave, also known as Algar de Benagil, is probably the most famous of all the sea caves of Algarve. And yes, it is as beautiful as it looks in the pictures. However, there is so much more to see along the coast of Algarve than just the Benagil sea cave! And one of the best ways to see the most beautiful Algarve caves in a short time is to take a boat tour. Find out!
Where is Benagil Cave
Benagil cave, Grutas de Benagil, is located next to Praia de Benagil (Benagil Beach), between Portimao, Albufeira, and Lagoa. See the map below for the exact location.
How to get to Benagil sea cave
While located just around the corner from the nearby Benagil beach (Praia de Benagil), the Benagil cave can only be reached via the sea. You can walk up to the hole in the ceiling of the cave and see it from above, but there is no way to get to the cave itself on foot.
To get to the Benagil cave you have to either swim (beware that the ocean is rough and even the best swimmers should be careful), kayak, or take a boat tour.
Note that it is now forbidden to disembark in the Benagil cave, even though some people who come there with their own boat still do so. The boats don’t really stay inside any of the caves longer than a few minutes and leave to make place for the others. Therefore I would advice to go as early in the morning as possible. We couldn’t believe the number of boats that were queuing to enter the Benagil cave when we left. There was just one other boat when we arrived there; where did they all come from all of the sudden?!
Benagil Cave boat tour – the best way to see the Algarve coastline
One of the best ways to get to the Benagil sea cave is by joining a sea cave cruise. There are many companies running boat tours in Algarve and especially in high season you’ll probably be able to find a boat going to Benagil cave in every village nearby. I have no idea which tours are best and what exactly they offer. However, we noticed that the closer we got to the Benagil cave, the more boats we met. So it seems that no matter which tour you are on, Benagil cave is always on the itinerary.
We chose this highly rated boat tour departing from Portimao because it not only gave us a possibility to visit the famous Benagil cave, but also see the whole beautiful coastline on the way to it. We also read that this particular stretch of Algarve coast between Portimão and Armação de Pêra is the most beautiful part and most worthy to see from the boat.
We saw the coastline between Portimão and Praia de Benagil, whereas boat tours starting in Albufeira visit the other side – between Albufeira and Benagil. Judging from the customer reviews, both sides are probably just as nice.
As our guide said before we departed, you’ll see so many beautiful villages and so many stunning sea caves, and Benagil cave is just a cherry on the cake. And it’s true – the scenery along the coast and the many sea caves near Cabo Carvoeiro are simply stunning. There is always a possibility that due to rough sea conditions the boats can’t enter one or the other cave. Benagil cave is not always accessible either. However, it doesn’t even matter because you see so many other beautiful places.
Our experience with the Benagil Cave boat tour
As I said, we took a small boat tour on a speed boat departing from Portimao with Algarve Discovery. The whole trip was just a sequence of one highlight after another. There were just 12 people on the boat and everybody was super excited and mesmerised by the beauty of the places that we visited.
The sea was quite rough on the day we did this boat tour in April and we were happy to be on a small speed boat. These boats go faster, you never get seasick in them, and they also have much bigger chances to be able to enter the sea caves.
We visited so many sea caves that I lost the count of them all and despite the rough sea could enter every single one of them. Our guide was extremely well trained and he made sure that we had a safe ride with lots of thrills along the way. He also told us a lot about the places that we saw and gave quite some tips on the best places to visit along the Algarve coast by car afterwards.
Benagil Cave boat tour with kids
We did the Benagil cave boat tour in Algarve with our three kids (age 7, 7, and 9) and at first we were a bit worried that they might get bored. But they were all just as excited as we were! They loved the fast and bumpy boat ride and were super excited about the boat entering the caves and passing through the narrow openings in the rocks. None of them got bored and they kept on saying that this was the best boat ride ever. In fact, they loved it so much that a few days later we did a whale watching tour in Madeira with a speed boat as well.
From what I see, there is no age limit for kids on this tour, so it’s a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy together.
- Most Benagil cave boat tours take 2 to 3 hours and cost around 30-40EUR/pp (price varies depending on the season, duration of the tour, size of the boat, etc.). You can find and book Benagil cave tours here.
- Make sure to do your research and book a small boat tour. Smaller boats have fewer people, they go faster, and they can enter the caves easier.
- Go early in the morning for less crowds.
- In summer, some tours also offer an option to swim, so you may want to wear your swimsuit and take a towel.
- Don’t forget sunscreen lotion. We didn’t think to apply any as it was a rather grey and cool spring day and we all got red noses in just two hours.
- There are many more possibilities to explore the Algarve coastline by boat: kayak trips, combination of sea caves and dolphin watching, etc. Here you can find the best deals for Algarve boat tours departing from many different towns.
Taking the boat tour to Benagil cave was one of the absolute highlights of our short trip to Algarve. Whether you are in Algarve for just a day or a week, seeing the beautiful coastline from the water is really a must. Highly recommended!
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