Adventure Activities

Best beaches for snorkeling in the Algarve

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 8 min read

Discover the underwater world of Algarve snorkeling at its best! The Algarve, a stunning region in Portugal known for its breathtaking coastline, mild temperatures, sunshine and crystal clear waters, is a haven for those looking to explore sea life and other sea creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether the weather when it's summer or not, the good weather in this area allows for an unforgettable experience almost all year round, especially during the high season when the sun beams brightest.

Discover underwater world

Best Beaches for Snorkeling in the Algarve

1. Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha is not just a beach; it's a world-renowned beauty spot. Often hailed by tourists as one of the most stunning beaches in the world, it doesn't disappoint with its rock formations and abundant colourful fish, making it a prime spot for snorkeling in the Algarve. As a beginner, I was enthralled by the variety of fish I spotted within just the first 10 minutes of my dive!

  • Surrounding Area: The cliffs are a tapestry of colors, offering scenic walks where the view of the beach from above resembles a perfect postcard scene.

  • Amenities: There aren't a ton of shops right next to the beach, but there are a few. For example, there are small stands selling snacks and drinks. Remember to bring water and maybe a sandwich!

2. Praia do Camilo

Wow, Praia do Camilo was a challenge to get to with its 200 steps down, but it was worth it! The water was so clear, I could see 5 feet deep. I'm still new to snorkeling, but I found it easy and safe to explore the underwater rocks and caves.

  • Surrounding Area: The wooden staircase to go down is long, but there are places to stop and take pictures of the amazing view. The sand is super soft too.

  • Amenities: This beach is a bit hidden. It's got a great restaurant on top of the cliff, though. They had the best orange juice I've ever tasted!

3. Praia da Rocha

With its vast expanse, Praia da Rocha is a great place to snorkel, for families and beginner snorkelers. The calmer spots near the rocks are brimming with schools of fish like bass and bream, ready to welcome you to their underwater world.

  • Surrounding Area: There's a boardwalk with lots of cool shops and cafes. The big rocks on the beach are fun to explore, too.

  • Amenities: Lots of parking, and there are lifeguards. Plus, there are bathrooms and places to rent gear. You can find beach chairs and umbrellas, too, but they can cost around 15 euros each.

4. Praia da Luz

If you're seeking a cozy spot for snorkeling, Praia da Luz is it. The waves are mild, and the water is inviting, not too cold for a comfortable dive. My unforgettable experience here included spotting a small octopus among the rocks!

  • Surrounding Area: The town around Praia da Luz is cozy and not too crowded. There are these cute, white buildings everywhere. Plus, there are black rocks on the beach that look awesome against the sunset.

  • Amenities: There are a few places to grab a bite, like beach bars and small restaurants. The chicken pita at a place called “The Snack Shack” was delish! Oh, and there's a spot for renting snorkeling gear if you forget yours.

5. Praia de Benagil

Praia de Benagil was a dream spot for snorkeling. The water was super clear, and there were caves! I didn't venture too far into exploring them since I'm new to this, but I saw people kayaking into them, which looked fun.

  • Surrounding Area: The cliffs are huge, and there's this famous cave called "Algar de Benagil." You can only get there by water, but it's so worth it. The pictures I took are just wow!

  • Amenities: It's a bit smaller than some beaches, but there's a great seafood spot nearby. No shops on the beach, so bring what you need. I suggest packing a picnic, really.

6. Praia do Burgau

Praia do Burgau felt like a hidden gem. It wasn't super busy, and the fish didn't seem scared of me at all. I saw striped fish and even a tiny seahorse. Being new, I stayed close to the shore, and it was still awesome to swim around.

  • Surrounding Area: The village feels like stepping back in time. It's peaceful, with narrow streets and old fishing boats on the sand. I could walk around there for hours!

  • Amenities: There's this cool beach bar with yummy ice cream and sandwiches. Not a lot of shops, though. But the chill vibe more than makes up for that.

7. Praia da Falésia

Snorkeling at Praia da Falésia was different because the beach is surrounded by tall red cliffs. The water was a bit cooler, not cold, but once I got used to it, I saw some neat shells and fish. I stayed where the water was only about 3 feet deep since I was still getting the hang of snorkeling.

  • Surrounding Area: The red cliffs are something else! They stretch for miles and make you feel like you're on another planet. The contrast between the cliffs, the golden sand, and the blue water is super cool for photos.

  • Amenities: There are a few restaurants and snack bars along the beach. I had a tasty salad at one of the beachside places. You can rent sun loungers too, but they're popular, so sometimes you've got to wait.

8. Praia do Martinhal

Praia do Martinhal is great for beginners like me because it's an island in a bay, so the water is calm. There's lots of interesting stuff under the water, like sea stars and weird-looking snails. I even saw a crab!

  • Surrounding Area: There are these little islands of rocks sticking out of the water in the distance that make the view really unique. The sand has areas with lots of shells, so I made a mini-collection.

  • Amenities: There's a fancy resort nearby, so the restaurants are a bit pricier but really good. I got a burger that was out of this world. There's a place to rent paddleboards and kayaks, so maybe I'll try that next time.

Also checkout 10 best beach towns in Algarve.

Places to go snorkeling in the Algarve

Benagil Caves

  1. First Impressions Wow, the Benagil Caves are something else! When I first got there, I couldn't believe how cool the rock formations looked. The water was so clear; I could see fish swimming even before I put my mask on!

  2. Getting There Getting to the caves was part of the adventure. I took a boat tour, as folks told me it's the easiest way to reach them. The boat ride was around 30 minutes, and we saw 5 other beaches on the way.

  3. The Snorkeling Experience Snorkeling here was magical, even for a beginner like me. There were so many colorful fish, like the blue and yellow ones called damselfish. The water wasn't too deep, maybe 4 to 6 feet in most places I explored, which felt pretty safe.

  4. Tips for Other Beginners One big tip: go early! Around 8 AM was when I went, and it was perfect. Fewer people, calmer waters. Also, stick close to the guide if you're not a strong swimmer. They know the safe spots.

Rocha Negra

  1. First Impressions Rocha Negra is impressive with all the dark rocks – they got their color from an old volcano! The contrast with the blue water is super pretty.

  2. Getting There I walked from the town of Lagos. It took me less than an hour, and the path was easy. The closer I got, the more I could see the dark rocks.

  3. The Snorkeling Experience The water here was a bit cooler, but once I was in, it was refreshing! I saw different creatures here, like tiny crabs and even an octopus. The rocks create cool shadows and spots to explore but be careful; sometimes they’re slippery.

  4. Tips for Other Beginners Water shoes are a big help here because of the rocky beach. Oh, and check the tides! Snorkeling is best when the tide is somewhat low, so you get more space to explore.

Ilha da Armona

  1. First Impressions When I first set foot on Ilha da Armona, I was struck by its natural beauty. The island's serene vibes and pristine beaches were like a call to relax and explore. The water looked inviting, and the idea of spotting some underwater life got me super excited!

  2. Getting There Reaching Ilha da Armona was an easy-breezy trip. I hopped on a ferry from Olhão, and in about 15 minutes, I was on the island. The ride itself was fun, and I got to see a couple of other islands nearby, like Culatra and Farol.

  3. The Snorkeling Experience Dipping into the water for snorkeling, I felt a bit nervous but also thrilled. The water was calm, thankfully, and not too deep for a beginner like me. I was in the water about 3 to 5 feet deep and got to see some marine life—small fish in shades of orange and silver, darting around the seagrass. It wasn't super fancy, but for someone new to snorkeling, it was fascinating!

  4. Tips for Other Beginners If you're planning a trip, try to bring your snorkel gear if possible, as there aren't many shops around. Oh, and make a day of it! There are spots on the island where you can have a nice picnic after enjoying the water.

Albufeira Marina

  1. First Impressions Albufeira Marina caught my eye with its colorful buildings and bustling vibe. The vibe was lively with people walking around, boats coming in and out, and the smell of tasty food in the air. The water looked clean and sparkly under the sun—just perfect for a swim and a snorkel.

  2. Getting There I was staying in Albufeira, so getting to the marina was a quick 10-minute bus ride from the town center. There were also loads of signs, so finding my way there was a piece of cake!

  3. The Snorkeling Experience The snorkeling around Albufeira Marina was a gentle start for a newbie. The water was mostly calm, with depths of around 5 to 7 feet where I chose to explore. I saw groups of small fish, and one time, a curious octopus! It was pretty neat to watch it change colors!

  4. Tips for Other Beginners One thing I learned is that it's good to check the wind forecast before planning your snorkeling outing—the water is calmest on less windy days. Also, there are boat tours offering snorkeling trips that include gear rental, which is handy for beginners unsure about buying their own equipment.

Ponta da Piedade

  1. First Impressions Oh my stars, Ponta da Piedade was like stepping into a postcard! The cliffs were all shades of gold and red, and the water? Crystal blue! I was super excited, though a bit nervous, 'cause remember, I'm still getting the hang of snorkeling.

  2. Getting There So, here's how it went down: I took a taxi from Lagos, which is just 6 kilometers away. It was quick, like 15 minutes, tops! Then, there was a bit of a walk down some steps - I counted around 182 steps, no joke - but it was so worth it when I got to the bottom.

  3. The Snorkeling Experience Wow, the snorkeling? So cool, even for a newbie like me. The water was calm, and I guess about 5 feet deep mostly. I saw these small caves and arches underwater; felt like a secret world! The fish weren't super big, but they were playful. Schools of them, like the silver bream and the striped ones - I think someone said they were sea bream.

  4. Tips for Other Beginners Okay, team huddle: I learned some stuff. First, wear water shoes. The shore's pebbly and it can hurt your feet. Second, the current changes, so ask locals about the best time to go. I heard it's usually the calmest in the morning. And hey, if you're like me and still learning, staying close to the shore is okay. You'll still see plenty of fish! Oh, and bring water. Those steps and the sun? They’re a workout and a half!

Ria Formosa Natural Park

  1. First Impressions The moment I stepped into Ria Formosa Natural Park, I knew it was special. It's not just a beach; it's like a whole other world! The park has tons of birds and cool plants, and the water is super calm – perfect for someone who's just starting out with snorkeling, like me.

  2. Getting There To get to Ria Formosa, I hopped on a bus from Faro, and it was about a 20-minute ride. I remember the bus number was 16. Then, it was a short walk to the park. Super easy, even if you're not used to traveling a lot.

  3. The Snorkeling Experience Snorkeling at Ria Formosa was a dream. The water was really shallow, which was awesome for a beginner. I think the deepest part was only about 5 feet. I saw seahorses! Can you believe it? Seahorses in the wild! And the seagrass beds were full of life – little shrimp, and fish I couldn't even name.

  4. Tips for Other Beginners Wear water shoes! The bottom can be a bit rocky in places. And, oh, bring your camera – there are spots on the beach where you can see flamingos. Yes, real live flamingos! It's not all about what's under the water at Ria Formosa.

Checkout Exploring Winter in Algarve: Best things to do and Where to Stay.

What to see when snorkeling in Algarve

I couldn't believe my eyes when I first tried snorkeling in Algarve. Even as a beginner, I was surrounded by a new world!

animals, nature, aqua

  1. Colorful Fish: The waters are teeming with colorful fish, creating a vibrant underwater spectacle. I encountered various species, with Parrotfish being particularly memorable for their vivid hues.

  2. Sea Turtles: Spotting a sea turtle is a rare but magical moment, especially around areas like Praia da Luz. These ancient sea creatures add a sense of wonder to your dive.

  3. Octopuses: These elusive creatures are a thrill to spot. My friend saw one change colors, a testament to the rich diversity of sea life in the region.

  4. Rays: Gliding gracefully, rays are like the sea's enchanting carpets. Eagle rays are a majestic sight if you're fortunate to see them.

  5. Seahorses: The Algarve, especially Ria Formosa, is known for its seahorses. Though adept at hiding, just knowing they're nearby is exciting!

  6. Sea Stars: These celebrities of the shallow waters add charm to your snorkeling adventure, dotting the rocks with their colorful presence.

  7. Coral Reefs: Though not extensive, the coral reefs are bustling with life, hosting an array of other sea creatures.

How to stay safe when snorkeling in Algarve

  1. Remember, safety is paramount.

  2. Always snorkel with a buddy, keep a close eye on the tides, and respect the marine life – no touching, please!

  3. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially nearby boats and people taking boat trip, and don't forget your sunscreen.

Why is Algarve a great place to go snorkeling?

  1. Super Clear Waters: Firstly, the water is so clear, it's like swimming in a giant pool. Seriously, visibility can reach up to 30 meters. This is a big deal for a newbie like me because everything underwater is so crisp and clear!

  2. Calm Seas: The Algarve's seas are super calm, especially during summer. I tried snorkeling in a few spots, and not once did I have to worry about big waves. Being a beginner, this is perfect for building confidence.

  3. Warm Water Temperatures: The water is warm, folks! We're talking around 18 to 24 degrees Celsius in summer. I could stay in the water all day without feeling chilly.

  4. Loads of Marine Life: The variety of fish and sea critters here is amazing. I saw colorful fish, like the ornate wrasse and two-banded sea bream, just a few feet from the shore!

  5. Beautiful Beaches: The beaches, oh, they're gorgeous. Places like Praia da Marinha and Praia do Barril aren't just great for sunbathing, but they're also known hotspots for snorkeling.

  6. Easy Access: Lots of these snorkeling beaches are easy to get to. I rented a car, and it was a breeze. Some spots are less than a 30-minute drive from the main towns, which is super convenient for a quick day trip.

Also check, Algarve Nightlife: A complete guide to the Algarve party scene and nightlife activities  

What are the benefits of snorkeling?

It's not just an ocean adventure; it's a full-body workout and a proven stress reliever. Imagine floating in tranquility, surrounded by nature's live TV show. Plus, it's a social activity – I made new friends during my snorkeling adventures!

underwater swimming

What to expect when snorkeling in the Algarve?

Clarity like nowhere else, an explosion of colors, and a variety of sea life such as dolphins and underground caves that keeps you exploring for hours. And the beaches? Pure bliss, with soft sand, rock-free zones, and abundant sunny days, making every snorkeling trip unforgettable.

fish, underwater, corals


Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

I am a globe-trotter with a passion for exploration. From the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal to the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, my travels are as diverse as they are inspiring. My journeys through Spain, Finland, Austria, and Germany have fueled my soul and shaped my writing.