The best beach caves in Portugal can all be found along Portugal’s stunning Algarve coastline in the southern part of the country. Portugal’s Algarve coastline starts at Monte Gordo, the border with Spain, and runs 150 km west all the way to Europe’s most southwest point near Sagres in Villa Do Bispo county.
Dotted along this beautiful coastline are hundreds of white sand beaches, stunning cliffs, and of course some awesome beach caves worth exploring too. Most of the best beach caves in Portugal involve hopping on a boat to access them but there are some that you can get to by car and then on foot, and here they are.
The most famous beach cave in Portugal by a long way is Benagil Cave, it’s so famous in fact that it was named by the Huffington Post as one of the top 10 coolest caves in 2014. As you can imagine, it’s the most popular beach cave in Portugal and it can get quite busy but don’t let that put you off as it’s a stunning sight to behold.
You will find the cave in the district of Lagoa and then the only way to access the cave is via boat, kayak, or standup paddleboard as it’s just around the corner from Benagil beach. It’s not a place you should try to swim too, so don’t think you can as it would be very dangerous.
You can book standup paddleboards and kayaks to see the Benagil cave right by Benagil beach. You can spend the day relaxing on the white sand and swimming in the blue seas and then hop on a little cave trip and have a delicious seafood lunch at the beach restaurant too.
Entry into the cave is based on the tide and sea condition so be sure to book in advance so that you can visit the cave at the best time as truly see it in all its glory. The cave is huge, so huge it even has its own beach with 3 entrances to the sea. You can paddle into the cave and hang out on its beach for a while and look out of the awesome blowhole in the top.
If paddling a standup paddleboard or a kayak sounds a bit strenuous, you can also book a boat to take you to the cave from Lagos, Carvoeiro, Portimao, Ferragudo, Albufeira, Benagil, and Armacao de Pera.
The Elefante Cave is just outside of Lagos town on the western side of the Algarve, around an hour’s drive from the Algarve’s capital Faro. Lagos is a stunning town that is worth a visit in its own right. The cobbled streets are lined with cute cafes, delicious restaurants, and fun bars too.
At the Ponta de Piedade, just south of Lagos town, sits a whole string of caves, amazing cliffs, awesome arches, and more. The best cave of them all is the Elefante cave but you get to see them all when you book a little cave exploration.
If you head to Praia Do Batata just up from the Lagos Marina, you find more than a few outfits that will take you on a cave tour. You can choose to rent kayaks, standup paddleboards, or hop on a boat to see the amazing coastline around Ponta de Piedade and of course see the Elefante cave.
I would recommend going on a kayak or standup paddleboard as it allows you to get far more up close and personal with the caves and cliffs, plus you can paddle through the natural arches. If you’re worried about safety, there is no need to be, every kayak or standup paddleboard trip comes with a safety boat to make sure you’re safe at all times.
The Xorino Cave sits just to the west of Albufeira and has quite an amazing history to it. The Xorino Cave was, according to local legends, used by the Moors to hide away from the Christians during the Christian Reconquista times.
The cave can only be accessed from the sea, like almost all of the beach caves in Portugal. If you’re staying in Albufeira, then you can easily find a boat to take you to the Xorino Cave at the Albufeira marina. You can also hop on a boat tour to the cave from the Vilamoura marina too, which also includes a few more stops than just the Xorino Cave.
You’ll enter the cave on a smaller boat and be able to see it from the inside. It’s a very cool trip but make sure to plan ahead as accessing the cave is very much dependent on the tide and sea conditions.
Arches of Marinha
If you want to spend some time at one of the most stunning beaches in Europe and see some amazing coastal features then you should head down to Praia da Marinha. The beach is covered in white sand, backed with golden cliffs, and loads of amazing things to explore such as natural archways, caves, and of course the stunning sea is always there for a swim and snorkeling.
Praia da Marinha is just a few kilometers east of Benagil beach and Benagil cave. It’s best explored on a standup paddleboard as you’ll be able to paddle through the arches and get close to all the amazing features.
Unfortunately, you can’t actually rent standup paddleboards or kayaks at Praia da Marinha but when you book a boat tour, kayaking, or standup paddleboard tour for Benagil you can also extend it to include the stunning caves and arches of Praia da Marinha.
You should go and spend some time on the Praia da Marinha just because it’s so pretty and if you have your own standup paddleboard then you can go on your own little adventure.
Zorreira cave is another stunning cave along the Algarve and luckily for all us cave adventurers, it’s right next to the Benagil Cave so you’ll get to see a whole host of caves on a boat to tour to Benagil. You probably won’t make it to the cave if you’re part of a standup paddleboard or kayaking tour but you can always request to add a stop to your seafaring adventure.
The Zorreira Cave is a beautiful cave with its own charm. No cave is ever the same and you should certainly try to visit the Zorreira Cave as it’s worth it.
Gruta do Capitão
Gruta do Capitão or the Captain’s Cave is a stunning series of caves that run along the coast from Armação de Pêra to Carvoeiro. The Gruta do Capitão is one of the hardest caves to access in Portugal and it can only be done with perfect sea conditions and by a very skilled captain.
Luckily, the southern coast of Portugal is known for both amazing skippers and calm seas, so your chance of seeing the caves are pretty good between May and October.
You’ll be able to find a local skipper with ease in the Carvoeiro area and the trip will have your boat through caves, arches, and dipping in and out of the network of features. It’s a super cool trip and one you should take if the conditions allow.
If you’re looking to check out some of Portugal’s best caves on foot, then Algar Seco is the place you have been waiting to find. Algar Seco sits between Vale Centeanes beach and Carvoeiro beach, and it’s easily accessed via a stunning boardwalk that follows the cliff edge and has stunning views over the ocean. It’s a wonderful hike to take regardless of seeing the amazing coastal features at the end at Algar Seco.
Algar Seco is home to a cool network of caves, a blowhole, incredible rock formations which are an amazing red/orange color, and a super cool blowhole too. You can access the caves and walk around inside, get a cool view out to sea through the caves (it makes for an excellent photo), and you can hang out at the Boneca viewpoint.
It’s quite a long walk down some stairs to Algar Seco but it’s certainly worth it. There is also a delicious beach bar and restaurant where you can have amazing local seafood with an incredible view.
If you don’t want to hike, you can park right next to Algar Seco, but it’s certainly worth taking a stroll along the boardwalk. There are even lights and benches, so you can walk along the cliffs at night and see the stars and the moon come up from the ocean.
Visiting The Algarve
Visiting the Algarve has a lot more to it than seeing the best caves in Portugal. There are loads of things to do in southern Portugal. Its amazing coastline is covered in magical beaches where you can always find a quiet spot to sunbathe and hang out.
The food, particularly the seafood is to die for and you should try their clams, fresh fish on the BBQ, and the octopus salad to name a few, and things like a Portuguese steak and Piri-Piri chicken are a must too.
It’s best to visit the Algarve outside of school holidays as the accommodation prices come down a lot. It’s also the sunniest part of Europe with over 300 days of sunshine a year. It only really gets a little cold from December to February but is hot from March to November.
The southwest coast is also one of the best places to learn to surf, so if that’s been on your radar, then Portugal is the place to be without a doubt. Surf lessons are available everywhere and there are consistent waves all year around.