The best independent guide to the Algarve
The best independent guide to the Algarve
The Praia da Marinha is one of the most famous beaches of the Algarve, famed for its spectacular setting and turquoise sea waters.
The golden sand beach nestles at the base of towering limestone cliffs, which have been eroded into unique formations by rainwater and winter storms. These formations include a double sea arch, the Arcos Naturais, which lies to the western side of the beach and is one of the most photographed natural features of the Algarve.
The sea waters of the Marinha beach are incredibly clear, and this makes them ideal for snorkelling and swimming. The beach is supervised by lifeguards during the summer, and the calm waters make the beach ideal for families.
On a calm sunny day in May, the Praia da Marinha is the best beach in the Algarve, but it won’t be like this in the summer!
Marinha beach is a gorgeous beach, but being so famous, expect your summer-time trip to suffer from over-tourism. Carparking is limited, the police routinely close the roads leading to the beach and there will be hordes of tourists at the best viewpoints. Also at hightide the beach can feel very crowded.
The Praia da Marinha is also the starting point of the finest hiking route in the Algarve, the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Hanging Valley), a spectacular 7km coastal footpath.
This article will help you get the most from your trip to the Praia da Marinha.
Related articles: The best beaches of the Algarve – The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos
The Arcos Naturais – A spectacular double sea arch and one of the most unique cliff features of the Algarve – and if you photograph it just right angle you can get the “Heart of the Algarve”(O coração do Algarve)
“Heart of the Algarve” 1 - This viewpoint is along the main pathway and can be easily photographed
“Heart of the Algarve” 2 - This viewpoint is on the edge of the cliffs and is not accessible or safe.
The paradise sea waters - The Praia da Marinha is one of the most sheltered beaches of the central Algarve; the waters are crystal clear and submerged rocky outcrops are teeming with sea life.
The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos – An outstanding hiking route along the golden cliffs to the west of Praia da Marinha
A sea cave on the Vale Espinhaço headland
Kayaking or SUP – Paddling around the stunning cliff formations of the Praia da Marinha, and it is only 1km to Benagil Cave – Unfortunately kayaks cannot be hired from the beach, but the Praia da Marinha is often the end point of kayak tours.
Praia da Marinha is a fully sandy beach which has calm sea waters, with no strong currents or waves. This makes the beach ideal for young children and families.
On the beach is a snack bar which gets very busy at summer and has prices which reflect its unique tourist location. At the top of the cliffs are a set of refreshment vans and beach stalls. Generally, it is better to bring your own food and drinks for a beach day trip.
Car parking at the Praia da Marinha in the summer is a real pain. There is only a small carpark with 32 spaces and this fills up incredibly quickly. The car park is free if you arrive early and are lucky to get a space.
Once the carpark is full, the police close the only access road to the Praia da Marinha, to prevent illegal parking and blocking of the surrounding roads. This road closure is 1km from the beach (GPS 37.097682, -8.418948) and there is very limited roadside parking around near it.
The best method to travel to the beach is to hire a taxi or Uber, who are allowed to drive to carpark at the top of the beach.
Warning: There is always high demand for ride hail apps and taxis at the end of the day when everyone wants to head home after a day on the beach. Either be willing to pay the surge prices or plan leave the beach earlier in the day (around 3pm).
Note: There is even less car parking around Benagil (for Benagil Cave and Benagil beach), and parking is a real issue for this section of coastline. It always surprises us, that the Algarve heavily promotes it’s tourism, but then can’t convert some of the surrounding scrubland near the Praia da Marinha into basic carparks, so that everyone can appreciate this beautiful section of the coastline.
We always advise heading to the beach as early as possible, so as to get a parking space and secure the best location on the beach.
There is just a single access point down to the beach, which is next to the Snack Bar, and this always tends to be the busiest section of the beach. Around the western headland (in front of the two rock pillars), is a much larger section of beach and is probably the better area to head to. At the far western end is the tiny Praia da Mesquita beach, and this can reached by scrambling over the collapsed cliffs.
The entire beach described above can be accessed on foot at high tide, but at high tide the size of the beach dramatically decreases. If you are heading to the Praia da Marinha for a beach day, you may wish to visit one of the other beaches of the region, and these are detailed at the end of this article.
To the east of Praia da Marinha is the Praia do Pau but this can only be accessed from the water (people do scramble down the cliffs but this is not safe). Beyond the eastern headland is the much larger Praia da Malhada do Baraço, another inaccessible beach, which is used as the “secluded private beach” for the high-end boat tours.
The Praia da Malhada do Baraço, a deserted paradise beach and a favourite location for lunch with the high-end boat tours
The only access to the Praia da Marinha is via a series of staircases and steep slopes; unfortunately there is no access if you have limited mobility.
The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos is the finest hiking route of the Algarve. It extends for 5.5km (11.5km round trip) along the rugged limestone coastline of the central Algarve.
Along the route, it passes Benagil Cave (only seen from the top), Alfanzina lighthouse and the pristine beaches of Praia do Carvalho, Benagil beach before ending at the Praia do Vale de Centeanes. There is a further footpath that continues on to the delightful resort town of Carvoeiro.
Advice: This is a rough footpath and good footwear is needed.
An interactive map of the hike is shown below, with the Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos marked in green and the additional stage to Carvoeiro in yellow. The Praia da Marinha beach marker number 7.
Sights along the route: 1) Praia do Vale de Centeanes beach 2) Farol de Alfanzina Lighthouse 3) Praia do Carvalho 4) Praia de Benagil 5) Benagil Cave 6) Arcos Naturais (double sea arch) 7) Praia da Marinha 8) Praia de Carvoeiro 9) Algar Seco rock formation 10) Praia de Vale Covo beach
The Praia da Marinha is one of the best beaches of the Algarve, but there are many similar beaches which will be less crowded and could be a better option for your beach day.
If you are based within the Albufeira region do consider the Praia de São Rafael, the Praia do Castelo, or the smaller Praia do Evaristo. These all are very similar to the Praia da Marinha, with pristine cove setting surrounded by golden cliffs.
If you are on holiday to the west of Praia da Marinha (such as in Carvoeiro) similar beach alternatives are the Praia do Vale de Centeanes and the Praia dos Caneiros.
Advice: In the summer never try to visit the Praia de Benagil, as it will be crowded with no car parking.
For a simple beach day, consider the beaches of Armação de Pera, the town may have many high-rise apartments but it does have a charming beach front.
At the weekends at the height of the summer, when everything is much to crowded we would suggest visiting the Praia da Galé. This is a vast sandy beach with plenty of space and multiple carparking (GPS: 37.084, -8.317)
The Praia de São Rafael, near Albufeira is a gorgeous beach