The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
Carvoeiro and the Lagoa region has a glorious coastline of towering cliffs, turquoise waters and picturesque beaches.
This section of coastline is dominated by giant limestone cliffs, with the pretty sandy beaches hidden within sheltered coves or river valleys.
The beaches of the Lagoa region differ from the central Algarve (Albufeira to Quarteira) as they are not vast expanses of sand, but tend to be smaller, enclosed by cliffs and immensely more scenic. All of the region’s beaches provide soft golden sands, safe and clean seawaters, and are perfectly suited for families.
There are many beaches within the Carvoeiro region, but most visitors tend to head to the same beaches, and these can get crowded in the summer months. If you are willing to explore, you will discover idyllic beaches, free of tourists and set within stunning natural scenery.
The best six beaches of the Carvoeiro and Lagoa region are:
6) Praia Grande (Ferragudo) – Huge sandy beach on the Arade Estuary, close to Ferragudo
5) Praia do Carvalho – Sandy cove beach and secret of the locals
4) Praia de Carvoeiro – The main beach Carvoeiro, pretty, family-friendly and bustling in the summer
3) Praia dos Caneiros – Pristine beach, away from the crowds and any tourist developments
2) Praia do Vale de Centeanes – Golden sands enclosed by sheer cliffs, an absolutely stunning setting
1) Praia da Marinha – One of the best beaches of Portugal, turquoise water, rock pools and a double sea arch
The map below shows all of the beaches of the Carvoeiro region (from Ferragudo in the west to the Praia da Marinha in the east)
1) Praia da Angrinha 2) Praia Grande 3) Praia do Pintadinho 4) Praia do Molhe 5) Praia do Torrado (part of Caneiros beach) 6) Praia dos Caneiros 7) Praia da Afurada (inaccessible) 8) Praia do Paraíso 9) Praia de Carvoeiro 10) Praia de Vale Covo 11) Praia do Vale de Centeanes 12) Praia do Carvalho 13) Praia de Benagil 14) Benagil cave beach (boat needed) 15) Praia da Corredoura (inaccessible) 16) Praia da Marinha
Most visitors head to the Praia de Carvoeiro (10) as it is the main beach of Carvoeiro and very easy to travel to from Lagoa. The Praia de Carvoeiro can get busy during the summer, and a suitable alternative within walking distance is the Praia do Vale de Centeanes (12).
For somewhere less crowded consider the Praia dos Caneiros (6) or the Praia do Carvalho (9), but a car is needed to travel to them. The beaches of Ferragudo (2, 3 and 4) are popular with the Portuguese but rarely visited by tourists. For activities, the Praia da Marinha (16) is great for snorkelling, while the Praia de Benagil is close to Benagil Cave (14).
If you are with children, the Praia de Carvoeiro (9) is the best option as the waters are calm and supervised by lifeguards.
Note: If you are on holiday in Lagoa or Estômbar the beaches of Ferragudo maybe a better choice, as they have larger car parks. These beaches are detailed at the end of this article.
This section details all of the beaches of the Lagoa region and is focused around the popular resort town of Carvoeiro, where most tourists will be based.
10m from central Carvoeiro
The Praia de Carvoeiro is the main beach of Carvoeiro and is where the majority of visitors will spend most of their time on the beach.
Luckily the setting is picturesque, the beach is suitable for all and there is a wide selection of cafes and restaurants close by. The beach is sheltered from the sea by two rocky headlands, and this has formed a natural triangular beach.
The rear of the Praia de Carvoeiro is lined by traditional fishing houses, which have since been converted into tourist restaurants and bars.
The sea waters are calm and without strong tides, making the beach ideal for young children and families. The main issues with the Praia de Carvoeiro is the complete lack of car parking (as with the entire town) and that it can get very crowded during the summer.
The town of Carvoeiro extends around the beach
400m from central Carvoeiro
The Praia do Paraiso is the second beach of Carvoeiro, but the small size means that it is no real alternative to Praia de Carvoeiro.
Paraiso beach is situated at the base of towering cliffs and the small patch of sand is almost entirely covered by the high tide – not quite the paradise (Paraiso) the name implies.
To reach the beach from the centre of Carvoeiro take the right (western) cliffside road, and it is about 400m from the Praia de Carvoeiro. As the beach as at the bottom of the cliffs, there is a long set of stairs to the sands, which makes it unsuitable for older or less mobile visitors.
The Praia do Paraiso is beautiful, but not suited or large enough for a day on the beach……
2km from central Carvoeiro
The Praia do Vale Centeanes is situated in a natural valley that has been carved out of the limestone cliffs creating a semi-sheltered cove.
This narrow stretch of sand is nestled below the massive and imposing cliffs and forms another wonderful beach setting. Unfortunately, the allure of Centeanes is often lost during the summer when it has to be shared with hundreds of other tourists…..
Vale Centeanes beach has a very different appearance to the Praia de Carvoeiro and it should be considered as the second beach of Carvoeiro.
To reach the Praia do Vale Centeanes it is 2km walk along the Estrada Do Farol street, and is worthy of the 20-minute walk.
The Praia do Vale Centeanes is set in a scenic setting
The Praia do Vale Centeanes has stronger waves than the Praia de Carvoeiro, but when there is lifeguard supervision the beach is suitable for children to paddle and swim in. Situated on the beach is the “O stop” restaurant, and serves light meals and refreshments.
The Praia do Vale Centeanes is the starting point of the outstanding Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route, which, after navigating 5.5km of dramatic coastline leads to the beautiful Praia da Marinha, the best beach of the region.
1.3km from central Carvoeiro
The Praia do Vale Covo is a small and secluded beach, which overlooks a wonderful set of sea caves. This tiny beach is reached by following the clifftop walk that extends from the Carvoeiro boardwalk and Algar Seco.
The Praia do Vale Covo
The following set of beaches are a little further from the centre of Carvoeiro but can be reached by a longer walk, cycle or short drive, taxi or Uber.
4.5km from Carvoeiro
The Praia do Carvalho (Oak beach) is an outstanding beach and a great choice if you are seeking to explore further from the centre of Carvoeiro.
Carvalho beach may not be as famous as the Praia da Marinha but it still offers all of the good aspects; stunning scenery, crystal clear waters and golden sands. The other noteworthy feature of the beach is that it is reached via a tunnel carved into the cliff. At the top of the cliffs is a decent sized car park but there are no beach facilities, restaurants or shops.
The Praia do Carvalho
5km from central Carvoeiro
The Praia de Benagil is one of the larger beaches along the coastline and is the closest beach to the famed Benagil Caves.
Praia de Benagil is a beautiful beach and is always a hive of activity, with tour boats filled with tourists being pushed into the sea or returning at speed to beach the boats high up on the sands.
Behind the beach is the village Benagil, which was once a fishing community but has since been taken over by tourism.
Praia de Benagil beach
The Benagil Caves are only a 300m walk from the harbour, and the opening at the top of the cave can be seen from the cliff walk.
It is maybe tempting to swim to the caves, but the swim is surprisingly difficult, and at least two tourists get into fatal trouble each year. As tourists tend to ignore warnings, Lagoa council have been forced to install traffic lights to indicate when it is less dangerous to swim out there.
The tour boat to Benagil, and more interesting, above the boat are traffic lights telling tourists if it is safe to swim.
Unsurprisingly in the winter months when this image was taken it is permanently red.
3.5km from central Carvoeiro
The Praia do Vale Espinhaço, another pretty cove beach, which can only be admired from the top of the cliffs. This beach lies in the shadow of the Farol de Alfanzina lighthouse and is close to the village of Alfanzina.
The only real reason why visitors will pass the beach is that it is mid-way on the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route. Another notable feature is the massive sinkhole between the beach and the lighthouse.
The Praia do Vale Espinhaço may be very pretty but only birds can embrace the tranquillity!
These beaches are much further from the centre of Carvoeiro and are too far to hike to. To reach them, they either need to be driven to or a taxi/Uber needs to be caught.
6.5km from Carvoeiro (road route)
The Praia da Marinha was voted as one of the top ten beaches in the world, and it is easy to understand why it was awarded this accolade.
The beach has the regions characteristic weathered cliffs, golden sands and turquoise sea waters, but there is an abundance of small marine life hidden between the submerged rocks while at the western end of the beach is the distinctive double sea arch (or “M” arch). Praia da Marinha is an outstanding beach in the low season, but during the summer it will be busy.
Marinha beach is at the end of the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos hiking route and the beach is a worthy goal for the 6km hike.
The beautiful Praia da Marinha
The following are the beaches of the pretty fishing town of Ferragudo, which makes for a pleasant day trip from Lagoa or Carvoeiro.
7km by car from Carvoeiro
The Praia Grande, as the name implies, the largest beach on in the Lagoa region and on the western side of the Arade River. The beach is within the Portimao harbour defences and there are virtually no waves or currents, making it a safe beach for children and families.
Even though the waters are a combination of the Arade River and the ocean, the waters are clean and suitable for swimming (always check the water quality update on the board leading to the beach).
The beach is a vast expanse of sands, and it is the only beach of the region to have enough space during the summer months. At the southern end, there is a cliffside footpath while at the northern side there is a selection of good beach restaurants.
While much of the Algarve coastline is full with foreign tourist the Praia Grande tends to attract more Portuguese. We like the Praia Grande and highly recommend it for a day on the beach.
The Praia Grande (Ferragudo)
6km by car from Carvoeiro
The Praia dos Caneiros is the hidden gem of the Lagoa coastline and our favourite beach listed in this article. The beach is far enough away from any major town to keep it significantly quieter than all of the other beaches, while its scenery and setting is as good as the Praia da Marinha.
The setting is magical, with powerful Atlantic waves rolling onto the golden sands, while out to sea is the Ilheu da Boa Sorte, a large limestone pinacol and home to numerous sea birds. Further along the cliffs is the Ponta do Altar Lighthouse and the navigational tower.
The Praia dos Caneiros beach overlooks the Ilheu da Boa Sorte island
The Praia do Molhe is a tiny beach but is noteworthy for the long seawall and wonderful views from the top of the cliff. The sea defence gives two distinct sides to the beach, one section buffeted by powerful waves while the other side is perfectly calm.
The Praia do Molhe is beach of two very different sides, divided by the Portimao harbour wall
Praia do Pintadinho is yet another attractive beach which is widely touted as the beach that only locals know and go to.
This reputation is mainly due to it being a long way from the town centre and the walking route passes the Praia Grande (where most tourists stop).
Pintadinho has a pretty setting, with a large sea cave to the north of the beach and sea waters that are clear and calm. This is another beach that is ideal for children.
The Praia do Pintadinho
The Praia da Angrinha is in an interesting location but it’s not a beach for a classic day on the beach. To the rear of the beach are ramshackle fishing huts while to the south side is the Fort of São João do Arada.
The Angrinha beach faces the harbour and docks of Portimao, which are on the opposite side of the Arade River, and watching the river traffic heading to and fro is an enjoyable activity while on the beach.
The Praia da Angrinha
• The weather is suitable and warm enough for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September.
• The sea waters are always cold, even at the height of the summer, when they only reach a chilly 21C.
• Be wary of the crumbling cliffs, and never stay to close to the edge to get that perfect selfie
• Only ever swim in supervised and designated areas.
• The beaches and seas are safe for children and, surprisingly have some of the calmest waters of the Algarve coastline.
• There are no good surfing or body boarding beaches (only options are the Praia do Molhe or the Praia dos Caneiros), for surfing head west to Lagos or Sagres.
• Bring a snorkel (wetsuit and fins) as there is an abundance of sea life in the waters of the Praia da Marinha, Praia do Carvalho and even the small Praia do Paraíso.
• Car parking is very limited in the summer, don’t even try to get into Carvoeiro. Praia da Marinha, Benagil and Praia do Carvalho has more parking, but it quickly fills up. The town of Ferragudo has the most car parking and this is why it has been included in this guide.
Our most popular articles for Carvoeiro and the Algarve