June 21st, 2014
Places of Pinterest: Benagil Sea Cave

In our regular column, Places of Pinterest, we serve up the low down on those iconic travel images that pinners love – how to get there, where to stay, what else to see nearby… all the details that you need to turn your virtual daydream into reality.

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This time: Benagil Sea Cave, the Algarve Coast, Portugal

Where: The Benagil Sea Cave is part of a system of caves that lines Portugal’s southern coast in the Algarve region. This most iconic cave is located just around the corner from a beach in the tiny town of Benagil.

What: The Algarve coast is Portugal’s most popular holiday destination, drawing many Europeans looking to embrace the country’s summer sun. The coastline runs for about 150 kilometres and is dotted with alternating beaches, cliffs and caves, the latter of which bear interesting formations like skylights and often host picturesque variations of light throughout the day.

How:  To visit the caves on the Algarve coast, join a tour in one of the many larger towns including Albufeira, Carvoeiro, Lagos, Portimao and Faro. In fact, sea caves tours by kayak or speedboat are available from most of the tourist towns on the coast and are sometimes coupled with stops at secluded beaches and dolphin spotting. If you’re adventurous, a tour may not even be necessary. Many beaches or marinas have kayak rentals and you can set out on your own to discover caves just around the corner.

Alternatively, if you’re driving across the coast, a stop in any town will yield at least one enterprising captain who’s willing to bring you to a nearby cave. Caves are best visited during low tide – some are even just a swim away from the beach.

What else: The Algarve has been developed into your typical seaside destination with expanding resorts adding more and more concrete to the region, but leaving the busy strip between Faro and Albufeira to escape into nature and tiny fishing villages is still a piece of cake. When you’re not at the beach, world-class golf courses, important religious sites, Roman ruins and nature reserves are all easily accessible by car and even busy Albufeira retains its traditional charm.

Stay:  Aside from multitudes of cookie-cutter resorts, the region boasts plenty of quaint (but still luxurious) bed and breakfasts, guest houses and boutique hotels. Check out Calcada Guesthouse for a plesant stay in a traditional town, or Casa Tres Palmeiras, a cliffside B&B with an idyllic pool