Benagil Cave – the Symbol of Algarve

Benagil is the most famous cave in Portugal hidden in the ocean. You will see it probably on each poster advertising Algarve. It has almost become a synonym to Algarve along with surfing. Benagil cave is located between two famous resort towns Portimao and Albufeira. It is best known for a distinctive hole in its roof. In this post, I have included all the information needed to visit this wonderful and mysterious cave. Also some safety tips and personal experience. I hope this guide will help you in having unforgettable experiences in Algarve and explore its magical ocean caves.

I have to admit that Algarve is one of my favorite regions in the world. I love the dramatic coastline, the ocean breeze, and the people here. It was my second time in Algarve, during my 3 weeks holidays, that I realized that I have missed the most famous caves in Algarve, the Benagil caves during my first visit. So this time I made sure to check them out. It turned out to be an unexpected and adventurous experience, continue reading to find out why 🙂

View over Algarve
Algarve View


Table of Contents

Where is Benagil Cave Located?
How do you get to Benagil Beach?
Exploring Benagil Cave
Benagil Cave Boat Tour
Can I walk to Benagil cave?
Can I swim to Benagil cave?
When to visit Benagil Cave?
Attractions Near Benagil Cave
My adventures in Benagil
Is it worth visiting Benagil Cave?

Where is Benagil Cave Located?

Benagil cave is located on the coastline of a little fishing town Benagil. It is about 15 minutes away from Lagoa, and about 30 minutes away from famous resort towns Portimao and Albufeira. Parking is almost impossible at Benagil beach, so it is best to leave your car at the top of the cliffs and walk down the way. It is just a 5-minute walk or even less.



Benagil Cave Map



How do you get to Benagil Beach?

The easiest way to get to Benagil town is by car. If you want to go to Benagil beach by public transport, you need to go by train or bus to Lagoa. Then take a taxi. I highly recommend renting a car to have the freedom to move around the Algarve. Bus and taxis are also a good option here.

Algarve Cave


Exploring Benagil Cave

The best way to get to Benagil Cave is by taking a boat tour from Portimao or Albufeira or renting out a kayak or SUP directly at Benagil beach (Praia de Benagil). It is also possible to visit the cave from Lagos. It’s a bit further though and boat tours will cost a bit more, but it’s definitely possible.


A girls standing inside the Benagil Cave
Benagil Cave


Benagil Cave Boat Tour

Most of the tourists are exploring Benagil caves on a boat. They usually also see other smaller caves on the way and this is the easiest and most convenient option. But be aware that most of the boats won’t get inside the Benagil cave. So you will see it only from the outside. I saw some smaller motorboats approaching closer to the cave but only for a minute or two and people couldn’t get out to explore the cave from inside. So if you are curious and adventurous like me, then rent out a kayak or SUP and explore the caves on your own.

Can I walk to Benagil cave?

You can walk to the top of Benagil cave but not inside. So you can see the beach and the cave only from the above by walking. The famous ceiling hole of the cave where you can look through the cave is located close to the Parking slot. Just walk a few meters and you will find it. Be aware that the Benagil cave from the outside is not as impressive as from the inside and you will miss a lot. 

Benagil Cave from Top
Benagil Cave from Top

Can I swim to Benagil cave?

If there are no waves, you can easily swim into Benagil cave from the Benagil beach. But be aware that this might be dangerous as the ocean is unpredictable. The swimming distance is about 200 meters. The cave is on the left when facing the ocean. Just swim along the cliff or follow the kayaks.

Attractions Near Benagil Cave

Marinha Beach or the Praia da Marinha is one of the most dramatic and beautiful beaches in Algarve and in Europe. It’s cliffs and rock formations offer amazing panoramic views. The Marinha Beach is located in Lagoa Municipality about 1.7 kilometers from the Benagil caves and the beach. It is about a 20 minutes relaxed walk. You can easily combine Marinha beach and visiting Benagil caves in one perfect day. Just be aware there are steep steps leading down the beach. So be prepared for a small workout.

Merinha Beach Algarve
Merinha Beach near Benagil


How I managed to get into the Benagil cave riding a huge wave

So here comes the adventurous part as I promised earlier. It all started when my friend and I decided to rent a car in Lagos, where we were staying at that time, and drive to the Benagil cave. It was an ordinary sunny November day in Algarve. We parked at the top of the beach and walked down the road hoping that the kayak rentals were still open. Fortunately, they were. The guy at the rentals warned us that the weather condition is not the best and waves are getting bigger. But we were confident and stubborn and wanted so much to explore the caves. So two girls in pretty dresses (for photo-shooting) started carrying the kayak into the ocean. The waves were splashing right into our faces. I managed to get into the kayak first and then my friend tried to jump inside from behind. At that moment I lost my balance and the kayak flipped upside down taking us into the water. My first reaction was like am I gonna freeze to death? Is my friend ok? Is another big wave coming? My friend had the same reaction. Finally, we managed somehow to get inside the kayak and started to paddle. Suddenly we heard applause and whistles from the beach. We didn’t realize there were some spectators watching two crazy girls all dressed up fighting the ocean. Wet and exhausted we somehow reached the entrance to the Benagil cave.

Benagil Cave by Kayak.
Entering Benagil Cave with Kayak



Meanwhile, the waves got bigger and there were only short intervals when it was possible to paddle into the cave. We started to count the waves and wait for the perfect timing. “Paddle, paddle” shouted my friend. So we paddled as fast as we could. We could even already see the sand in the cave from inside when suddenly I felt that water under the kayak was rising and I realized a huge wave was pushing us to the shore.  It felt a bit like riding a roller coaster for me until I realized that my friend is somewhere behind in the water shouting “pull the kayak, pull the kayak, another wave is coming”. Long story short, we somehow managed to pull the kayak inside the cave and secure it on the sand. The amazing views inside the cave were totally worth all the struggles. We also realized that due to the weather conditions and generally low season, we were all on our own in the most famous caves in Portugal.

When to visit Benagil Cave?

The best time to visit Benagil is between June and September. The weather during this time is the most stable and predictable. July and August is however the busiest season in Algarve and all the caves and attractions get pretty full. Also, the accommodation during this time will get more expensive and you will have to book it in advance. Alternatively, the weather in October and November can be very nice and sunny as well and you can explore the Benagil cave and other attractions without getting disturbed by other people.



Benagil Cave
Benagil Cave

Conclusion

Is it worth visiting Benagil Cave?

It is definitely worth visiting the Benagil Cave but make sure to get inside the cave and spend some time there. Before taking a boat tour ask your tour provider if they actually take you inside the cave. A better option is renting out a kayak or SUP and exploring the Benagil cave and its surrounding on your own. But before doing that check the weather condition and do that only if the ocean is calm and welcoming.

Benagil Cave from inside
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