Benagil Sea Cave is the most famous cave in Portugal and one of the most famous sea caves in the world. The best way to enjoy the coastline is to take a Benagil Cave tour which will get you up close and personal to the Benagil caves in Portugal and show you the rest of the beautiful coast at the same time. Here are all my top tips for visiting Benagil cave and how to choose the best Benagil sea cave tour for you.
At A Glance: The Best Benagil Caves Tours
|⭐Best Benagil Tour from Portimao (I loved this tour)
|Benagil Caves and Praia de Marinha Boat Tour
|⭐Best Benagil Cave Tour from Lagos
|⭐Best Benagil Sea Cave Tour from Albufeira
|⭐Best Benagil Cave Kayak Tour
|⭐Best SUP Sea Cave Tour from Benagil
|⭐Best Benagil Cave Sunset Tour
|⭐The Benagil Cave Tour I Chose
|Benagil Caves and Praia de Marinha Boat Tour
Is Benagil Cave Closed in 2024?
You may have seen news articles late last year about the Benagil Cave being closed to SUPs, swimmers and kayak tours.
This is because the large number of visitors to the cave made it dangerous to have a combination of boats and people in the water, and there was a risk to people, the fragile cave itself, and the dangers of rock falls from surrounding cliffs.
In September 2023 regulations were announced that banned kayaks, canoes and SUP boards from departing any of the beaches closest to Benagil caves, including Benagil Caves, which effectively banned these tours altogether.
However, these restrictions seem to have been lifted (possibly temporarily) over the winter as there are fewer visitors to the area and Benagil Kayak tours have been operating.
It’s not yet clear what will happen when it gets busier, so check the information for each tour carefully to see what is permitted – and prepare to be flexible as the Banagil Cave regulations change. These rules are put in place to protect people’s safety and not ruin your holiday plans!
Boat tours to the Benagil Caves are still operating, and are still allowed to go inside the caves – but not stop at the beach or allow people to get off the boats inside the cave.
Which Benagil Cave Tour to Book?
Before you book your Benagil cave tour there are various things to think about, so read on for my complete guide to Benagil cave in the Algarve to help you make the best decision for your Portugal vacation!
The Benagil Cave Tour I Chose
I chose this Benagil caves tour from Portimao. The tour took about 2 hours and we visited various other sea caves and rock formations on the way to Benagil. Weather permitting, there is also a stop at a beach where you can go swimming. For a great price the tour promised we would:
- Admire the beautiful landscapes of the Algarve coastline
- Visit the Benagil Sea Cave, one of the most spectacular in the Algarve
- See the Fort of Santa Catarina, the Ferragudo Castle, and more along the way
- Go swimming at Praia da Marinha, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches
SEE FULL TOUR DETAILS>>> I chose this cave boat tour for several reasons:
- The tour got great reviews and was good value
- The boat is an RiB (rigid inflatable speed boat) so is small enough to get inside the stunning Benagil cave.
- I was staying in the town of Lagos, about 26 miles by car to the village of Benagil. You can take a Benagil cave tour from Lagos where I was staying, but as I suffer quite badly from seasickness I decided to go part of the way by land to reduce the amount of time I was out on the sea.
- I booked the tour through GetYourGuide, and chose the tour offered by Algarve Discovery. I often book tours directly with the tour providers, but it was the evening before I wanted to take the tour and GetYourGuide provides immediate confirmation so I decided to book with them. It was really easy to book and I got an email confirmation straight away.
Check the availability of this tour to Benagil Caves here:
Where is Benagil Cave Located?
Benagil is a small fishing village on the Algarve coast in southern Portugal. Benagil sea caves are 150 meters east of Benagil Beach (Praia de Benagil). Although it is possible to see the Benagil cave from dry land above the cave, the best way to see the cave is from the water.
What is Benagil Cave?
The Benagil sea cave (or Algar de Benagil as it’s known in Portuguese) is a cave on the Portuguese coast in the Algarve that has been carved out by the sea. It’s unique because of the way the cave was formed, as the waves eroded the rock in a dome shape, and there is a hole in the top of the dome, letting sunlight stream into the cave.
It is one of the most beautiful rock formations on the Algarve coast, and a fascinating place to visit.
However, there are lots of other Algarve caves to explore while you are in Portugal! The whole of the Algarve coastline is filled with caverns, caves, archways and bizarre rock formations which are all spectacular.
How to Get to Benagil Sea Cave?
While you could make your own way to Benagil and see the sea cave from land, the best way to visit Benagil cave is on a boat tour that will take in some of the other Algarve caves on the coast and even allow you to go inside Benagil cave in some cases. There are sea cave tours that leave from all along the Algarve coast.
The best Benagil cave tour for you will depend on where are you staying in the Algarve, how long you want to be in the boat, and how close you want to get to the cave.
You can take Benagil sea cave tours from Faro, Lagos and many places in between, as well as Portimao and Benagil Beach which is closest to the caves. If you are staying in a town which offers sea cave tours you could choose to take one from there, or you may prefer to travel by land to a town closer to Benagil to reduce the time spent in a boat – especially if the weather isn’t great!
As well as boat tours you can also arrange to visit Benagil Cave on a kayak tour or a SUP tour from Benagil. If you want to visit the town of Benagil and Benagil beach you can click on the above map to get directions for how to get to Benagil caves from Lagos, Faro, Albufeira and anywhere else you are staying in the Algarve.
If you want to visit Benagil caves from Lisbon you’ll first need to travel to the Algarve as it isn’t possible on a day trip.
Can You Swim to Benagil Cave?
It is possible to swim to Benagil Cave at low tide if the sea is calm and you are a strong swimmer. However, it can be very dangerous, both due to the sharp rocks and strong waves and how many boat tours go into the cave.
It is definitely not suitable for children and I personally wouldn’t recommend swimming, especially not without a life jacket.
If you want to spend time inside the cave and visit the Benagil Cave beach, I’d suggest a kayak tour or a SUP tour which is a lot safer and allows you to pull up on the beach and walk around without risking the dangerous swim. However, do check with the tour provider if current regulations will allow you to enter the cave.
Cost of Benagil Cave Tours
Benagil cave tour prices vary depending on what is included and what time of year you visit. Prices range from €20 per person in the low season for a tour to the Benagil Caves which just includes the boat trip, up to €60 and above for high season tours which include food, drinks or dolphin watching with a marine guide.
Tours starting from further away typically cost more as you’re covering a longer distance, although you can also find tours that include a barbecue or more of a cruise-type boat that travels along the coast more slowly, offering added extras like food and drink.
Access to Go Inside Benagil Sea Cave
Not all cave boat trips along the coast will actually go inside the beautiful Benagil sea cave. Larger boats like catamarans and sailing boats are too big to get inside the cave entrance, so a small, manoeuvrable boat will be best if you want to see inside Benagil cave.
No boats are allowed to actually dock in the cave, so you won’t be able to get out onto the beach inside Benagil cave unless you take a stand-up paddleboard tour or a kayak tour.
However, even without getting out of the boat, you will still get a great view of the Benagil cave as long as the boat can get inside. Our captain made sure everyone got good photos, turning around inside the cave so we all saw everything properly.
Your Comfort & Accessibility Requirements
Benagil boat tours that use larger boats are likely to be more comfortable than the smaller RIB (rigid inflatable boat) speedboats which can be bumpy if the waves are high! If you suffer from back problems, speedboats bouncing off the waves may cause you discomfort, and the size of the boat may also have an effect if you suffer from sea-sickness, as will the time you spend on the boat.
If you are an active person you may prefer a Benagil kayak tour or a SUP tour instead of a seated cruise. Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, of course, is best in warm weather with a calm sea, although we can’t always choose good weather for our holiday in Portugal!!
Depending on your requirements, you should be able to find an accessible tour to see the caves. Some of the boat tours to the Benagil caves are accessible for wheelchair users, but it is probably best to check with the tour company to make sure their tours are suitable for your needs. Others specify that they are not suitable for wheelchair users, people with back problems or pregnant women.
On GetYourGuide you can search tours using filters, including a filter to find wheelchair accessible tours to the Benagil caves which you can find under the ‘services’ section of the filter menu. I added the filters for this search.
Rain, high winds and rough seas do not make for the most enjoyable boat trip to the Benagil Caves. Sometimes rough seas mean that the boat departures directly from the beach in smaller villages like Benagil cannot leave due to the waves.
Boats that leave from actual ports such as Albufeira or Portimão have a better chance of successfully launching. Even though I visited Portugal in winter, I was lucky to get a sunny day with very little wind, so if you visit Benagil cave in winter while there may be more chance of poor weather you can still enjoy a wonderful experience.
That said, if the weather is very bad, you may prefer to postpone your Benagil caves boat tour – especially if you suffer from seasickness, do you really want to be on a boat trip in poor weather?
In some cases, the tour company will contact you in advance to let you know if the weather is forecast to be poor and wave conditions won’t allow access to the caves.
My Personal Benagil Sea Cave Tour Review
I really enjoyed my Benagil cave boat tour. The weather was perfect, the tour guide and captain were both excellent, and I highly recommend it!
The meeting point for the boat tour was outside the Clube Naval de Portimao, close to Cais Vasco da Gama, and the crew were there waiting when I arrived, just before our meeting time of 11.30 am. There was a girl checking people off the list, together with the captain and crewman. Once everyone had arrived, the captain took us to the boat around the corner.
There were 11 of us on the tour, and the RiB boat was pretty much full capacity. There was one single seat at the front, which I took, and straddled it like a horse, with a leg on either side. The other seats were bench style, and the rest of the people were cosily wedged in. We were all given life jackets to wear.
We set off at a steady pace – this isn’t a speed boat ride as such but there was certainly a cold breeze as we set off. I went backpacking in Portugal in January, and the weather during the day was beautifully sunny but it was cold, so I definitely needed my coat!
Thankfully the water was very calm so I didn’t get seasick, but I am glad I took my Dramamine before setting off.
All along the coast, the captain stopped the boat to explain what we saw, and he translated in Portuguese and English so we all knew what we were seeing. The first point of interest was the castle at the entrance to Portimao port, which protected the city from pirates and invaders.
Then as we travelled along the coast we went inside various caves, saw lots of beautiful beaches and coastline, and went to the famous Benagil sea cave.
The Benagil sea cave was the last thing we visited before turning around and enjoying a 30-minute boat ride directly back to Portimao. The Benagil cave is beautiful, there’s no doubt about that.
The sea has carved out an almost perfectly round cave, with an opening at the top which lets light flood in. You can see the different layers in the rock which have come from thousands of years of rock deposits, gradually being reclaimed by the sea.
Part of me was disappointed we weren’t able to get out of the boat, but our captain spent plenty of time making sure we all got a good view of the cave and had lots of opportunities for photos.
We didn’t get the view of the cave from the beach which you can only get if you take a kayak or SUP tour, but I was still really happy to see the cave and was impressed by the power of the sea for carving out such a beautiful cave!
Alternatives to my Benagil Cave Boat Tour
I really enjoyed the Benagil Cave boat tour I took, as we had a small boat and could go inside the cave (although we didn’t get out). Our guide was fun and informative, and we saw plenty of interesting sights along the way as well as the beautiful Benagil Cave. You can book the tour here.
For me, this was definitely the best Benagill cave boat tour available, but depending on your own preferences and requirements, there are other Benagil Cave tours that you might also enjoy:
Sea Cave Tours from Benagil
Benagil Cave SUP Tour
If you are an active person and want to get up close and personal with the Benagil Sea Caves, you can take a stand-up paddleboard tour from Benagil beach. These tours actually allow you to get out onto the cave beach and walk around inside the cave (subject to weather and tide restrictions) so you have the chance to get some gorgeous photos from the beach. These SUP tours leave from Benagil beach, so you need to arrange your own transport to get to Benagil from wherever you are staying. READ MORE>>>
Benagil Cave Kayak Tours
Another active alternative to the SUP tour is to take a Benagil kayak tour from Benagil beach. This one has excellent reviews and allows you to get out inside the cave (subject to weather conditions).
The Benagil Cave kayak tour lasts around 2 hours and includes a guide, instruction on how to use your kayak safely while practising at a secret beach, and visits to other nearby beaches and caves as well as the Benagil sea cave. You will spend about 20 minutes inside the Benagil cave so you’ll have plenty of time to take pictures! You will get wet on the tour, so make sure you have a waterproof camera or pouch for your phone. READ MORE>>>
You can also rent a kayak on Benagil beach to take along the coastline and into the Benagil Caves. The rental doesn’t include a guide and is only recommended for people with experience of using sea kayaks as getting inside the caves safely can be a challenge. If the sea is rough or you’re not confident with a kayak I wouldn’t recommend this option, but you can contact Taruga Tours who offer the kayak rental for more information.
Benagil Cave Tours from Lagos
If you are staying in Lagos and want the convenience of taking a boat from Lagos to the Benagil Caves, you can arrange a boat trip to take you all along the coastline departing from Lagos.
Visiting the Benagil cave from Lagos means you will spend longer in the boat before getting to Benagil – or whizz along the Algarve coast in a speed boat to reach the cave. However, if you suffer from seasickness you may be better travelling by land to get closer to the caves before taking to the water, especially if the weather is poor.
If you don’t have any problem with seasickness then a Benagil cave tour from Lagos is much less hassle than arranging additional transport to another location like Portimao.
There are various options for Benagil cave tours from Lagos but, in my opinion, the best Benagil Cave tour from Lagos is this one, which is a 2-hour trip that gets excellent reviews. There are also more leisurely catamaran cruises from Lagos which travel along the coast to see some of the other caves and rock formations, but without going inside the Benagil cave.
Benagil Sea Cave Tours from Albufeira
If you’re staying in Albufeira, there are also lots of options for Benagil boat tours from Albufeira, including this 2.5-hour tour which includes dolphin watching – and the chance to reschedule for free in case you do not see the dolphins!
A more comfortable choice would be this Catamaran cruise from Albufeira, which includes a cup of champagne and has wifi on the boat. This is a larger boat than most of the others, so if the weather and sea conditions are good you may be able to get inside the caves, but it isn’t guaranteed, so it is a reasonable option for an Albufeira benagil cave tour if you don’t mind not going inside the cave.
There are also SUP and kayak tours to the Benagil sea cave from Albufeira, such as this 4-hour tour which includes a 40-minute boat ride from Albufeira, then transferring to your choice of kayak or SUP board to enter into the Benagil cave and explore the other caves, caverns and beaches closeby.
Find more options for Benagil boat tours from Albufeira:
Accessible Boat Tours to the Benagil Caves
Depending on your requirements, you should be able to find an accessible tour to see the caves. Some of the boat tours to the Benagil caves are accessible for wheelchair users, but it is probably best to check with the tour company to make sure their tours are suitable for your needs.
On GetYourGuide you can search tours using filters, including a filter to find wheelchair-accessible tours to the Benagil caves, I added the filters for this search that came up with various options, including ones from Albufeira and Portimao.
Seeing the Benagil Cave from Dry Land
The most impressive views of the Benagil Sea Cave are from the water, but you can also visit the cave from dry land and look down from the hole in the top of the cave. If you drive to Benagil you can walk up to the cave, you could hike along the coast from Albufeira if you’re feeling adventurous, or even take a tuk-tuk tour to Benagil Cave which also visits other key sights along the way. Remember, from the land you can’t get inside the cave, but you can peer inside from above.
Safety on Benagil Cave Tours
Remember that when you are out at sea, make sure you wear the provided life jackets. Your captain will show you how to put it on, and always follow their instructions for where to sit on the boat. Be careful not to drop your phone, camera or anything else in the water! I always have a hand strap attached to my phone so I don’t drop it – and bear in mind that your camera or phone could get wet on the boat.
Have you got Travel Insurance?
- Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. I never leave home without travel insurance, so consider getting insurance for your trip to cover things like adventure sports and activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, stolen items, trip cancellation and more.
- Get a quote for your trip from True Traveller if you're based in the UK, or World Nomads or SafetyWing which both offer travel insurance for backpackers and long-term travellers. Alternatively, use a comparison site like Travel Insurance Master to find the best cover for you.
Quick Guide to Benagil Cave Tour Options
There are lots of different options for tours to see the beautiful Benagil sea caves or “Grutas de Benagil” as they are known in Portuguese. I recommend booking your cave tour through GetYourGuide. I had a great experience with them and you can easily compare over 100 different experiences and tours to Benagil Caves.
As well as a choice of a variety of tour options, you can book last-minute (sometimes on the day or the day before the tour, subject to availability) and if your plans change you can cancel up to 24 hours before your activity starts for a full refund.
SUP Sea Cave Tours from Benagil
Stand-up paddleboard tours from Benagil beach, more active style but allow you to get out onto the cave beach and walk around inside the cave (subject to weather and tide restrictions). You’ll need to travel to Benagil yourself to join the tour. CHECK PRICES
Benagil Cave Kayak Tours
Another active alternative to boat tours is to take a Benagil kayak tour from Benagil beach which also allows you to get out inside the cave (subject to weather conditions). Find your own way to Benagil to take part in these tours. CHECK PRICES
Benagil Cave Tours from Portimao
If you’re staying in or near Portimão then a tour to Benagil cave from Portimao is the easiest option for you. There are various options for cave tours departing from Portimão, including RiB speed RiB speed boat tours to the Benagil Caves from Portimao, which include going inside the cave but not getting out of the boat, relaxed catamaran tours which may not be able to go inside the cave but allow you to enjoy the coastline, and unique tours like a pirate ship trip along the coast or a private boat trip to see the sunset. FIND A TOUR FROM PORTIMAO
Benagil Cave Tours from Lagos
Benagil tours from Lagos are a great option if you are staying in Lagos and want the convenience of getting straight into a boat and being whizzed along the coast without the hassle of having to travel anywhere yourself. You could take a 2 hour RiB boat trip from Lagos or a more leisurely catamaran cruise which takes in the beautiful coastline but doesn’t actually go inside the caves. FIND A TOUR FROM LAGOS
Benagil Sea Cave Tours from Albufeira
If you’re staying in Albufeira, there are also lots of options for Benagil boat tours from Albufeira – either doing the whole trip by boat, or a combination of a boat trip to Benagil beach and then transferring to a kayak or standup paddleboard to go inside the caves. GET A TOUR FROM ALBUFEIRA
Unique Benagil Experiences
If you are looking for something truly unique, how about a cruise on a pirate ship! This boat tour from Portimão starts off in a pirate ship to cruise along the coast, then will transfer you to a smaller boat to go inside the Benagil Caves. BOOK A PIRATE SHIP CRUISE
Where Stay to Visit the Benagil Caves
If you plan to visit the Benagil Caves in Portugal and you have your own car you can spend the night basically anywhere along the Algarve coast, as Portugal is quite compact and it is easy to drive wherever you need to be. As I didn’t hire a car, I was backpacking in Portugal using public transport so I chose to stay in Lagos.
Lagos is a pretty city, with beautiful beaches and cliffs and there are plenty of things to do in Lagos to keep you busy. To get to my Benagil cave tour which left from Portimao, I took the train from Lagos to Portimao the morning of my tour.
Where to Stay in Lagos
Hostels in Lagos
Hostels in Portugal are generally of a very high standard, and Lagos hostels are no exception. Check out the Old Town Hostel which gets rave reviews for the friendly staff and great atmosphere, or the swanky Top City Hostels and Suites with a pool and incredible views from the rooftop terrace.
Hotels in Lagos
Airbnb in Lagos
Airbnb is also a great choice for accommodation in Lagos. I stayed in a private room in Maria’s home in Lagos (with her 3 cats, dog and pot-bellied pig!) and loved it – check the listing here. Check out all of the options for Airbnb in Lagos here. Have you been taken a Benagil cave tour to see the Benagil caves in Portugal? What did you think? Please leave your comments below.
Benagil Caves FAQ
If you are visiting the Algarve then going to the Benagil Caves is definitely worth it. I loved my boat trip along the coast and seeing inside this magnificent cave was certainly worth the trip. However, if you are in Lisbon and want to visit Benagil from Lisbon it probably isn't worth making the trip just for that unless you can spend several days in the Algarve.
Benagil Cave is in the Algarve, close to Benagil village. To get inside the cave you'll need to join a tour either by boat, kayak or stand up paddle board.
Benagil Cave is famous for being one of the most beautiful caves in the world, thanks to its rounded shape and distinctive hole in the roof of the cave.
The Benagil Caves are very popular, and can get extremely busy in the peak summer season. For that reason I'd recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn for the best chance of good weather without the crowds.
As for time of day, aim to be there as early as possible to beat the rest of the tours arriving that day. Early morning gives you more chance of having the caves to yourself. While the sun shines into the cave through the hole in the roof around 10am-4pm depending on the time of year, it's more beautiful to see the cave with fewer people.
There are some incredible caves on the planet, and Benagil cave is definitely a contender for one of the most beautiful caves in the world.
You can drive to Benagil village and park the car there, then walk to the top of Benagil cave to peer inside. It is fenced off to stop people falling in, so to get inside the cave you'll need to take a boat, kayak or SUP tour from Benagil to actually go inside the caves. Benagil Cave Boat tours leave from towns all along the Algarve coast so it isn't necessary to drive if you don't want to.
You can walk to the top of Benagil cave to peer inside from above. It is fenced off to stop people from falling in, so to get inside the cave you'll need to take a boat, kayak or SUP tour to actually go inside the caves.
It is potentially possible to swim to Benagil Cave at low tide if the sea is calm and you are a strong swimmer. However, it can be very dangerous, both due to the sharp rocks and strong waves and how many boat tours go into the cave. It is definitely not suitable for children and I personally wouldn't recommend swimming, especially not without a life jacket.
Access inside Benagil Cave is only possible from the sea, so to get inside the cave you'll need to take a boat, kayak or SUP tour to actually go inside the caves. Some kayak and SUP tours allow you to land on the beach inside the cave and get out and walk around once you are inside.
Want More Portugal Articles?Check out these blog posts to learn more about fabulous things to do in Portugal, or click here to read all of my Portugal posts.
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