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:
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.
I 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.
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?
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.