We “planned” to travel a lot in 2020 but, as you all are well aware, sometimes things don't work out as planned. It's been a crazy year with a lot of our flight tickets cancelled. Still, we were offered options of either free flight changes or airline vouchers (to be used on flights in the next 12 months). In the hope that things would get better, we decided to escape the English summers and travel to Portugal in July 2020. One of the key highlights of this trip was a boat tour to Benagil Caves, one of the most well-known caves in Algarve (south of Portugal).
To visit them, you can easily find boats departing from various beaches across the Algarve coast, which gives you the flexibility to choose where you start your trip from. Given the pandemic situation, we wanted to go on a tour with less people and where we would feel safe. You can't help the travel bug, but safety first!!! Doing a lot of Internet-search, we came across some safe Airbnb Experiences. A couple of advantages here are that you can book the tour well in advance for a specific time period, cancellation is possible (but who wants to cancel a trip to Benagil Caves anyway!) and they meet safety guidelines (well they have to!). This experience was hosted by Susana and it was easy to coordinate via Whatsapp. This experience starts from the beach of Armação de Pêra. We were staying in Portimão and so it was a 30 minutes car-ride to this beach (something to plan for if you're not staying close to the place where your experience starts). On our arrival, we were greeted with a hand-sanitiser (that feeling of security!). The boat-tour was 1-hour long and we paid €20 per person. This included exploring several secret caves and wild beaches, access to most of which was only via sea. The boat had a capacity of 10 people, making it difficult to practice social distancing, but we were relieved because everyone was wearing masks during the entire trip (this was truly commendable!).
The day was quite bright and sunny, and the sea waters were clear and of a turquoise color. We were able to enjoy many amazing views, including beautiful rocky cliffs and open sky caves; we even went through a cave to discover a hidden beach (truly a paradise!). We were quite happy of our decision to take this boat trip during the evening, especially because Algarve gets very hot during summers and obviously during day peak hours. While exploring some caves, we were sometimes scared we were going to hit the rocks, because of the narrow caves. Nonetheless, the guys in charge of the boat were professionals (nothing happened - sigh of relief!!!).
We also passed by Marina beach, considered among top 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe (and among top 100 in the world). Fun fact – the beach has a restaurant with the eating place facing the cliffs and the toilets facing the sea (planning in haste!). To reach the Benagil caves, you can also rent kayaks and row from the nearest beach. You may swim too, but at your own risk (brave souls!). Unfortunately, when you reach the Benagil caves, you are not allowed to get off the boat (legal requirement!) – Still, you can enjoy its beauty from the boat. Big boats go there too, but these cannot go inside the smaller, secret caves along the way (another travel tip there!).
In general, a 5 out of 5 for the boat-tour. We would highly recommend it on your trip to Portugal!