Google the best beaches in Portugal and you will see thousands of photos of picturesque beaches and magnificent sea caves. These caves have beautiful, dramatic openings on their ceilings, very similar to the cave I visited in Sayulita, Mexico. When I arrived in Praia de Benegil, I saw a lovely beach but didn’t see any caves. It turns out the cave is a short swim from the beach and set in a little cove. There was an option to take a tour boat which cost 9 euro, but you’d have to share the amazing cave with dozens of orange life vest-clad tourists. I decided to be adventurous and take matters into my own hands by swimming over in the early morning.
Right after breakfast, my traveling companion and I grabbed one surf board headed out. We didn’t know how far it really was and since you can’t see the cave when you leave the beach, I had a little panic in my belly over whether we made the right choice! Once I rounded the corner and saw where we need to swim, it wasn’t too bad at all. I decided to wear a full wet suit since the water was bit chilly and I am not the strongest swimmer, but I made it no problem. Maybe just a little out of breath from the swim.
When my foot touched the ground and as I peeled off my wetsuit like a James Bond girl (at least that’s how I felt!) and rushed to explore this cave, I soon found out what the fuss was about. This cave blew Sayulita away – it was gigantic! I was thrilled to have taken a chance on swimming over and beating the dorky tourists to this magical place.
A zillion photos later, I put my wet suit back on – feeling like a bond girl again – and swam back to the shore. People at the beach who had no idea what laid one rock over, looked at us like we were aliens, emerging from the sea. I just loved that we took a chance in adventure and decided to swim over. Sometimes you have to do things the hard way to truly enjoy the gems!
After the Praia de Benegil, we headed to Praia da Marinha. This beach is also full of caves which you can explore by swimming or by boat. It felt like I was sun bathing in a sculptural park. After a good swim I was starved so we headed to get some fresh seafood nearby.
I also explored the picturesque town of Sagres where I saw an amazing sunset disappear into the ocean. I love going to places where the main attraction is a sunset. I also went to 3-4 more beaches on the way to Comporta, Portugal. Comports is not really in the South but has amazing beaches as well.
I really enjoyed the south of Portugal and I want to come back and explore more secluded, secret beaches before the world finds out about them all!
Villa Joya – small and exclusive. Amazing food
Hotel Quinta do Lago – Most renowned Hotel and area in the Algarve with beautiful golf courses, beach etc. Much bigger and less private
Martinhal Hotel in Sagres. Younger vibe but beautiful and great spa – savers is great for kitesurfing
- Have lunch/dinner at Praia do Castelo at a restaurant called Evaristo.
- In the village of Almansil/Vale do Lobo go for dinner at a restaurant called Paixanito. It is 35kms from Villa Joya and is very good.
- At the Quinta do Lago hotel, there is a restaurant right on the beach called Gigi where you should have lunch.
- Have lunch/dinner at Mont Carapacho (hotel will have details)
- Have lunch in beach of Villa Joya at Petisqueira
Beaches, Beaches, and Beaches! I highly recommend waking up super early and going to Praia Benegil. And then swim to the cave (15 min swim). You will see the sign every where boats taking you for 9 euro, but if you go early you will have the whole place to yourself before tourists arrive. If you aren’t a strong swimmer then take the boat. Water is also cold as hell. Praia Marinha was also my favorite.