Lagos is a beautiful town in the Algarve region of Portugal. Along with being home to some of the world’s finest sandy beaches to relax on, there are also some amazing spots in which to go snorkeling in Lagos.
Yep, from secluded coves to ancient cave systems, there are a number of options when it comes to putting on the airpipe and goggles in this corner of southwestern Europe. You’ll encounter all sorts under the water, from deep grottoes filled with seaweed to a kaleidoscope of strange and intriguing creatures, including sea slugs, seahorses, squids and bonefish.
Tempted? Here’s our list of the five top spots for snorkeling in Lagos. Whether walking in from the sands, sailing in on a boat tour, or paddling over in a kayak, this list will feature something that suits. So, put on your goggles and dive into this list!
Ponta Da Piedade
Our first snorkeling spot is not a beach, but a water-bound collection of rock formations. Limestone arches, caves, and grottoes make up Ponta Da Piedade, and provide amazing scenery for a day on (or under) the sea. While this spot can be visited on foot via hiking, access via boat tour, kayak, or paddleboard will allow for a better all-round experience. Only a seven-minute drive out from the center of Lagos, Ponta Da Piedade is easily accessible to visitors, most of whom go by foot down 182 steps directly into the water.
If planning a trip to this beautiful site by boat, make sure to delve into the specifics of your tour. It’s important you research and pick the right tour for you. On a larger boat with more people, the route may be more touristy, with only the most well-known parts of the area on the itinerary. Taking a smaller boat tour, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard will allow for better access to the caves and grottoes of Ponta Da Piedade. It’s also worth knowing that you can only access most grottoes during low tide.
Whether boarding through the Kissing Rock or paddling past the Camel Head formation, always be cautious of rocks here – they poke out from all angles in all different shapes and sizes. Climbing in and out of the grottoes can be a little treacherous, so always take the advice of your tour guide. However, with such still, crystal-clear waters, it’s no question that this is a great spot for snorkeling in Lagos.
Praia da Dona Ana
Now we move to a gorgeous beach situated between Lagos town and Ponta Da Piedade. Mhmm, Praia da Dona Ana is one of the most iconic beaches in the Algarve. With its marvelous cliffside surroundings, it is easy to see why, too. The beach is also complete with hireable loungers, toilets and shower facilities, and snack bars and restaurants, so there’s plenty to keep you sustained throughout the whole day. Oh, and the site offers some of the best cliffside views in Portugal, so consider taking a walk up to catch a stunning sunset. There’s plenty to do here before you even get to the snorkeling…
It’s the cliffs of Ponta Da Piedade that make the waters at Praia da Dona Ana remarkably still. This, along with their reputation for being very clean, makes the spot attractive to snorkelers. And there is an abundance of underwater plant life to be seen under the surface, including multi-colored seaweed blooms and plumes of darting sardine fish. Be warned however, the waters are known for often being very cold, even in the summertime.
Praia do Pinhão
Now we move along the coast to another beach: Praia do Pinhão. This small cove on a small bay is perfect for a secluded summer afternoon’s snorkeling. Located near Dona Ana, this similarly rocky beach contrasts by being a favorite of local families, rather than a hotspot for tourism. If you make your trip early in the day, it’s likely you could have it all to yourself.
There are two sides to Praia do Pinhão, connected by a tunnel in the rocks on the beach. However, one side is much smaller, and the smaller side and tunnel are only accessible during low tide. There are no restaurants on this beach, so if you’re planning on spending the whole day here it’s worth bringing some snacks or a packed lunch. In fact, there are no facilities at all, and that includes lifeguards! Be careful on your snorkel adventure!
The rock formations around the beach create some protection from strong winds, and the water is very clear. This makes Praia do Pinhão an ideal location for snorkeling in Lagos. The water is known for being cold though, so brace yourself on entry even in the summertime. On the left side of the beach, there is also a great spot for cliff jumping and diving, but that’s only for the very brave.
Praia do Camilo
Located between Praia da Dona Ana and Ponta Da Piedade (only a short walk away), this is one of the most visually striking beaches in the region. Yep, Praia do Camilo is considered one of the best things to do in Lagos on TripAdvisor, despite being a relatively small beach. The sands are soft underfoot, and the surrounding rock formations are majestic and imposing. Accessed only via a long wooden stairway of over 200 steps, getting to Praia do Camilo can take a little effort. But, on arrival, during low tide, you will see that all of your stepping was worth it.
The waters at Praia do Camilo are simply perfect for snorkeling. The sea is shallow, basically transparent, and the winds are blocked by nearby rocks. This allows for serene swimming, and an amazing view of the life under the water. Various species of coral, fish, and other sea life can be clearly seen at Praia do Camilo.
Praia do Camilo does suffer from being as popular as it is. Being so small, it can become very crowded on a summer day. Visits in the early morning will allow you to enjoy the beach in peace, with less commotion. Similarly, watching the sunset from the nearby cliffs is a memorable treat for the family to enjoy. And the Do Camilo restaurant, located on top of the nearby cliffs, is a tempting place for an evening meal to end your day.
Praia Porto de Mos
Perhaps the most popular beach in Lagos, Praia Porto de Mos is a large Blue Flag beach that is regularly visited by travelers and locals. With fine golden sands to walk on, and massive cliff faces on either side of the beach, this spot has a great balance of comfort and scenery. Despite being so popular, the 4-kilometer length of the beach means that it is not often overly crowded. It is also a great place to hire a boat, kayak, or to bring a board and make your way to Ponta da Piedade. There are a couple of restaurants right on the beach, too, so there’s no need to pack a lunch.
Praia Porto de Mos is also connected to the nude beach, Praia do Canavial, which can be a great spot for some secluded sunbathing. However, you can only reach this hotspot for naturists during low tide. Praia Porto de Mos is in fact better visited during high tide. This is because the water contains lots of small rocks, that are easily stepped on during low tide. In high tide there will be sand underfoot making for a softer step.
The water at Praia Porto de Mos is very clear and generally calm, however it is also known as a site for larger waves. Popular amongst surfers, this spot is better for more experienced snorkelers who feel comfortable in slightly rougher conditions.
Is Lagos good for snorkeling?
In short, yes, there’s plenty of excellent snorkeling in Lagos. With a variety of beaches and coastal locations with brilliant clear waters, there is a lot to see in the region with the goggles in tow. Stunning scenery make the experience all the better, and there’s stacks of marine life to see, from dolphins to sea slugs.
Where is the best place in Lagos for snorkeling?
While not an easy choice from this list of stellar spots, our choice of the best snorkeling in Lagos has to be Ponta Da Piedade. Being the only totally water-bound location on this list gives this spot a unique edge. The necessity of aquatic travel, and the opportunities to explore the cave systems make it feel more of an adventure than the other locations. But don’t just take our word for it, book a trip to Lagos, and pick a favorite for yourself!