Benagil – is as magic as they say

benagilboat

How did the day start

Where should I start with my day at Benagil? Do you think it mat­ters I just cel­e­brated the day with a good fish din­ner and loads of white wine in a local restau­rant?

But I don’t want to start with the end. Let’s start with the begin­ning.

Where is Benagil and why is so spe­cial

It is in the south­coast of Por­tu­gal in the Algarve region and it’s famous for its caves and beaches. One of the most beau­ti­ful of them is called Cave Benagil. This is where we are going:

cavefromabove4

So it’s 9 am, we – me and Sam the amer­i­can solo trav­eler girl I met in the hostel head towards the cen­tral bus sta­tion in Lagos, buy the tick­ets and find out our bus just left. So typ­i­cal for all my adven­tures with Sam. Yes­ter­day we missed the last bus by 2 min­utes, so I was get­ting used to it.

So what do we do in the 75 min­utes till our bus departs? At 11.00 in the morn­ing a cof­fee, or another cof­fee is just the best choice to make. So we head towards a cof­fee shop we knew in old town of Lagos and enjoy two strong expres­sos, spiced with the view of tourists swarm­ing around, wak­ing up, – a won­der­ful life rhythm to watch.

How we got to Benagil

We then head in towards the sta­tion take the bus and here is where our real Algarve adven­ture starts. We didn’t have a very strong plan regard­ing how we will get to see the caves of Benagil. I just knew – I say I – because Sam was totally rely­ing on me on this – so I just knew we had to take two buses and one boat. The first bus was Lagos to Lagoa. From there we get on a bus to Car­voveira and I was very con­fi­dent I knew where we were going when I asked the bus dri­ver which is the best way to get and see tha caves, and he says this bus does not take you to the caves. Ok, my face dropped on the bus floor for some sec­onds and after I felt some mus­cles com­ing back to life, the same dri­ver says : You have to get off two bus stops later than you have planned. And I think ” and that was it? I will go ten more if that takes me to the caves”. He was so nice to tell us that, because hadn’t he told us, then things would have been much more com­pli­cated.

Benagil the beach, the vil­lage and the rest..

So we get off where he said and we walk ten min­utes to the Benagil beach which was easy to reach by foot. Benagil is the most beau­ti­ful beach I have seen in the Algarve.

bengilbeach2benagilvillageI was totally enthu­si­as­tic about this place, so we rushed into find­ing out how we can see the caves by boat, booked a tour which cov­ered 20 caves and I left Sam on the beach. I took the hik­ing trail which went up the ocean coast and offered a panoramic view over the beaches which were hid­den and access­able only by boat. My first, sec­ond and third rea­son to not go straight and swim in the Atlantic on a hot day like this, was the fact that I had a date with the cave of Benagil. I fell in love with this cave from the first time I saw a pic­ture of it on the inter­net. The first thought that struck me was: I need to see this. She was call­ing me. And the call was irre­sistible.

So the rea­son why I post­poned the swim­ming was to go on the hik­ing path, above the cave and see the cave from its ceil­ing. Stand­ing above it and look­ing down was unique. A sim­i­lar feel­ing I had 6 weeks ago when I met Nav­ag­gio the first time, and I was stand­ing amidst wind cur­rents resist­ing it just to take pho­tos of this mar­velous spot on earth. Being up there already, I wanted to see what is there more to see, so I con­tin­ued walk­ing on the path and saw this…

I even­tu­ally came back to the beach and saw some­thing that impressed me to tears. Two par­ents in their 70′ bathing their paral­ysed daugh­ter into the ocean. She could not move any limb, but they were hold­ing here on their arms and laugh­ing at her joy.This scene kept all the peo­ple on the beach breath­less. It is in such moments that we real­ize how for­tu­nate we are to be able to run into the waves with our own two feet.

Know­ing that the time for boat sail­ing was close, I have decided to try the Atlantic waters and swim to the cave of Benagil just to see it, just to say hello. So, I did. It is a 5 min­ute swim from the beach, but the waves were really strong and I don’t want to start to talk about how cold the water was. But it didn’t mat­ter. At least after 10 sec­onds it didn’t.

Being inside the cave was inde­scrib­able. I just want you all to go and see it for your­selves. I don’t know what makes your jaws drop, but this view made mine drop.

The boat trip to the Benagil caves

I said hello and good­bye see ya and swam back to shore to meet Sam and take the boat. This is what the boat sail showed us.

Maybe hun­gry?

We then took the buses back and 5 min­utes after we got off in Lagos old town, we pass by this big tav­ern, which besides being big, was absolutely full of peo­ple sit­ting tight, packed. There were like 150 peo­ple inside, so I thought : this is either a big event, or this place is really famous. I asked the waiter which of the two it was, and he laughed and said: this just a nor­mal week­day evening for us.

We received a table, ordered fish and wine and had a won­der­ful din­ner with a bit too much wine for my sober­ness limit, but lim­its as rules are to be broken..right?taverninlagos

At the table next to us was a cou­ple in their 60’s. I just watched them for a sec­ond, gave them a smile and a big bright smile came back. I raised the first glass of wine and greet­ing them we drank together.  I was think­ing how beau­ti­ful is this world and how four worlds meet at one table, one fri­day sep­tem­ber night in Por­tu­gal. He was from Algarve, she was from Ham­burg, Sam was from New York and I am from Tran­syl­va­nia. We spoke as if we were hav­ing the Christ­mas din­ner together and we had planned this long time ago.  They have met 33 years ago on the beached og Algarve. She was a ger­man back­packer girl com­ing to see the Atlantic, he was the local boy play­ing the quit­tar on the beach on long sum­mer nights which you share with friends and drinks as he said. They loved the Algarve the same as they did when they met, although they said it had chanced a lot because tourism.

The good­bye came with an invi­ta­tion to visit them in Ham­burg and I will not pass Ham­burg with­out giv­ing them a call.

This was the diary of a per­fect day of a solo trav­el­ing girl like me.


Practical advice on how to get to Benagil from Lagos:

take the bus from Lagos to Lagoa (9.5 euro roundtrip) – from Lagoa to Car­voveira (7 euro roundtrip) and get off at Plaia do Car­valho- from here walk straight to the Car­valho beach (it’s 5 min) and from there to Benagil beach (another 5 min).

To see the Benagil caves you can either book a tour which is 20 euros for an hour trip which cov­ers 20 caves, or you can swim to Benagil cave, which is the first next to the beach. The cur­rents are strong and the water, the cold­est I have been in and I am not a whinny , but you’ll get there. If you want to take your cam­era, just put it in a water­proof bag and let it float on a board while you push it. It’s a free way to see this amaz­ing cave. This way you can stay inside as long as you want.


 

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