Despite having been born and raised in beautiful beach-spoiled California, I knew we had to see the famous Algarve beaches in Southern Portugal.
They did not disappoint.
In addition to the gorgeous weather we were fortunate to have, the main highlights I did not expect were:
- There were no beach resorts. Just laid-back towns. This meant no crowds, no large buses, no street vendors, no restaurant-lined streets with annoying touts, and extremely limited parking. As a result, visitors were truly able to relax and explore the area.
- There were endless hiking trails. With a brief glance at the map, it seemed as if all the beaches in Southern Portugal were connected by trail. I had the time to hike the trails at both the beaches we visited, and it took 3x longer than it should have due to the incredible cliff views. Because we were there in early April, it wasn’t hot enough for me to want to sunbathe on the beach. Hiking the trails was perfect, and I was thrilled to have that option instead of hanging out on the beach.
The first beach was Praia do Camilo. We arrived at 1pm, just before everyone else could arrive, which meant we easily found parking in its tiny lot. Gorgeous beach, isn’t it?
I didn’t stay too long at this small beach. I spent more time hiking the cliffs above.
Later that afternoon we arrived at Praia de Benagil, famous for its beach caves. Because we arrived just when everyone else was leaving, we easily found parking along its incredibly steep streets. What lured me (and everyone else) to this beach was this famous beach cave; however, upon arriving I quickly learned that it would cost €17.50 for a boat tour to only see the cave from the exterior. In only perfect weather (low tide, calm conditions) could the boat go inside the cave, and even then, people wouldn’t be allowed to step out of the boat. In other words, no one could actually step foot in the cave unless you kayak there yourself.
Praia de Benagil wasn’t attractive at all; it was the hike to the neighboring Praia da Marinha that was spectacular. Numerous sinkholes dotted the hike, allowing us to look down into the beach caves from above.
Praia da Marinha did not disappoint. This was perhaps the most stunning beach of all in the Algarve.
Best of all, we found a bunch of motorhomes parked along dirt trails near Praia da Marinha. Excited, we hurried back to our motorhome back at Praia de Benagil and moved over to our camp spot for the night.
Watching the sunset over the beach, feeling the warmth of the ocean breeze flow through the window, and sipping on a cold beverage are moments that make campervanning worth it. True freedom and adventure.
The next morning we properly explored Praia da Marinha.
And we even made time for the Cemetery of Anchors at Praia do Barril. To be honest, the beach and the cemetery weren’t that spectacular.
In a nutshell, the Algarve Beaches are not to be missed in Portugal. Even I’m a California beach snob and Portugal’s beaches still wowed me. And forget the actual beaches; it’s the hiking trails from above that will allow you to appreciate its beauty.