If you’re not thinking of taking a Benagil Cave tour, you should be. Benagil Cave is often listed as one of the most stunning caves in the world. The stone that forms the cave is yellowing, with streaks of rusty orange. The ocean waves lap gently through the cave entrance and onto the shores of the tiny beach within. Up above is a naturally occurring skylight, or an eye, as it is sometimes called. When the sun shines through the skylight, it is like a spotlight illuminating the cave.
For more great beach suggestions, check out our picks for the Top 10 Most Stunning Algarve Beaches!
The Benagil Cave is a natural cave formation in the oceanside cliffs of Portugal’s Algarve region. Though many caves and rock formations line the coast of the Algarve, the Benagil Cave is unique for the “skylight” in the cave’s ceiling.
The cave, like much of Portugal’s coastline, is made up of limestone. Layers and layers of limestone built up over the years to create the stunning banded appearance of the rocks.
Limestone is very soft, and therefore easily susceptible to erosion. Powerful waves wore through the cliffside over millions of years to create the vast Benagil Cave. Similarly, the roof of the cave eroded, likely from high volumes of rainwater. The erosion in the roof created the spectacular skylight that attracts tourists from all over.
The easiest way to reach Benagil Cave is with a Benagil Cave tour. Boat tours depart from all over the Algarve to explore the fascinating caves and rock formations that line the shores. Many of these boat tours also stop off at Benagil Cave. If you choose to take a boat tour, you will get to see a large portion of the coastline, which makes it a popular choice for people who want to explore as much as possible. However, you may not be allowed to leave the boat once inside the cave.
It’s also possible to access the cave by renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP). This is a great option for those hoping to take their time exploring the cave, as there is no pressure to return to a tour group. It’s also a great choice if you want to get in some water sports during your time in the Algarve.
If you’re a very strong swimmer, you can also swim to the cave. The waters of the Algarve are warm, but can have powerful waves. Be sure to know the tides before you leave, and do not overestimate your strength as a swimmer. It is about a ten minute swim in each direction, which is not easy.
Taking a Benagil Cave tour is a great way to spend an afternoon. However, it’s important to consider the costs before you go. A tour on a motorized boat will probably last between 1.5 and 2 hours, and will cost around 30 or 40 Euros per person.
A guided tour with a group of kayakers or SUPers will probably cost around 50 Euros per person. Guided tours are recommended for first time kayakers or SUPers, and are great for anyone who wants to see multiple caves and learn more about them.
Renting a kayak or SUP for the day should cost between 30 and 40 Euros. However, renters reserve the right to deny you if they think you do not have the required skills to take a kayak or SUP out on your own.
Please note that with both guided tours and personal rentals of kayaks and SUPs, there may be age restrictions. These activities are often not recommended for children under 12.
Touring the Benagil Cave does not take too long, depending on how long you choose to stay at the cave. Luckily, there are a lot of fun options nearby for the rest of your day. Around the corner from the cave is Praia de Benagil, where you can enjoy a day at the beach. Nearby is Praia da Marinha, another spectacular beach where you can spend an afternoon.
The town of Benagil is small, but is located near Carvoeiro. There, you can enjoy a delicious meal, relax with a round of golf, or go on a wine tour. There is also a water park nearby in Lagoa, and the resort town of Portimao is not far.