Exploring the caves of the Algarve Cliffs

I’ve posted what the views are like when walking the cliffs of the Carvoeiro coastline a few times, but after dealing with a paddle board that badly needed patching, winds and strong swells, I finally got the opportunity to explore the coast by water.


One of the most impressive places to launch from is at Benagil where there’s plenty of parking close by and easy access to the beach. But most importantly, because this is where the largest and most impressive cave on the coast can be found close by. It’s impressive not just because of its size (you could hold great concerts here), but also because of how it is lit up, with a small opening in the roof, as well as two arches from outside, that provide a wide range of colors as light reflects off the yellow-toned walls and turquoise waters, different depending on the time of day of your visit.

Further on (going eastward), there are smaller and deeper caves that are accessible by board and fun to explore. But you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing this on a windy day, or especially when swells are happening – you could wreck your board and possibly yourself.



Praia da Galé

Another great spot to explore caves on this coastline is near the beach of Sao Rafael, near the small town of Galé, which is to the east of Carvoeiro, right next to the large Algarve town of Albufeira. In between Carvoeiro and Galé the cliffs drop away and a long stretch of beautiful beach connects the two, where the small town of Aramacao de Pera is situated. It’s a great walking beach as there’s little development here, just a few small beachside restaurants.

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Top Right: Sao Rafael beach. Far Left: Ponta Grande Cala

You can access the beach and the beginning of the cliffs from a beach access at Galé. There’s a large parking lot and a few restaurants, some with lounge chairs out front. Highly recommended for lunch or dinner is Pedras Amarelas, with inside and terrace dining, as well as beach lounge chairs. Their greek salad with tzaziki sauce is amazing.

Sao Rafael Beach

Praia (Beach) Sao Rafael

But for some great cliff  and cave exploring you’ll want to go a little further east to the beach of Sao Rafael. There’s lots of parking here, a small beach restaurant, and easy access to the beach. Head west and you’ll discover some amazing arches and caves that pass through the fingers of land that reach out from the shoreline.

Far Right: Water entrance to Ponta Grande Cala
Narrow & shallow entrance to the Cala

The most amazing place along here is at Ponta Grande Cala. There is a small cave entrance to the beach from the ocean, or, you can walk in from the back, down a narrow rock staircase that the homeowner above made. Lovely little spot. You can see it in the satellite image above, by the large home to the left. You can just make out the water inside the Cala. The water cave entrance is quite small and shallow, shallow enough that at high tide you have to be careful, especially if there’s swells coming through.

The few times I was boarding along this coast I had the place to myself, except for a few fisherman on the cliffs above. Even the large tourist boats seem to prefer the coast of Benagil. And the fisherman were there for good reason, as the water was boiling with fish. There were large schools and that kept close to the surface, that would quickly dissipate as I paddled up to them.

Inside Ponta Grande Cala – can just make out cave entrance in center of photo

First photo above is the narrow entrance to the Cala from land. 2nd photo is the view of the Cala from above. 3rd photo shows one of many well-like holes along the walk path that fall down to the water that you have to be aware of.


Another interesting place is Praia dos Piratas, or Pirates Beach. The only way to access it is by climbing down a ravine and passing through an entrance in a wall that is in the shape of a man. And it looks quite natural, that it wasn’t man-made. On the other side is a small beach, accessible only through this walkway or by water.

Above you can see the image of a man cut out from the rocks from the coastal pathway. 2nd photo show the man image that is also the only entrance (other than by water) to a private beach (below).


Here’s some other images taken while boarding and exploring other caves and arches:

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