Snorkelling is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and usually swim fins.
The Algarve is an excellent place to go snorkelling. With plenty of beaches spread out from the edge of Sagres till Spain, the region exhibits perfect spots with translucent and warm waters suitable for a relaxing morning or afternoon snorkelling around. Good weather with more than 300 days of sunshine per year, warm temperatures, a calm sea with reefs, underground caves and rock formations are some of the conditions that the Algarve manages to gather together that make this a privileged spot to do snorkelling.
What is the best time of the year to go snorkelling?
Summer – During summer, weather in the Algarve is at its best. Temperatures run hot and the sea is really warm, meaning you can easily swim for one or two hours without ever being cold. This allows you to snorkel for a longer period of time and without having to wear a suit. However, summer is also high-season for tourism in the Algarve. This means that beaches will be crowded with tourists, which means you may find the sea a bit sandy due to the many people inside the water, and it means you will have to be careful while swimming to avoid other swimmers.
Winter – In winter, sea temperatures can be a bit cold, forcing you to wear a wetsuit. Winter also has the downside that the sea is rougher and waves can get too big to be safe to swim in the ocean. Even though you can snorkel in good days, when the sea is calm, winter is definitely not a good time to go snorkelling in the Algarve. Definitely not worth it booking a trip to the Algarve during winter if you are expecting to go snorkelling.
Autumn/Spring – During autumn and spring, the weather is warmer than in winter but still colder than in the summer. This means that, depending on how well you bear the cold and on the weather conditions of the day, you might be able to snorkel for a couple of hours without a wetsuit. The sea also tends to be a lot calmer and safer than during winter. A great advantage when compared to summer, is the absence of tourists at the beaches, meaning you will practically have the sea to yourself, so that you can snorkel and explore as much as you want without ever being disturbed.
Best Algarve snorkeling beaches
Praia do Martinhal – Praia do Martinhal is placed on the east of Sagres and, like all the other beaches in Sagres, it is a heaven for snorkelling. The water is incredibly transparent and the many underwater islands of limestone make for an interesting observing point to be discovered.
Praia do Burgau – Also located in Sagres, this sheltered beach makes for a perfect refugee for many fish species, which is why it is always full of fisherman. The sea is quite calm in this beach, and despite the slightly colder water, this is a wonderful place for snorkelling. Here you can see lobsters, shrimps, anemones, octopuses, gorgonians of various colours and many other underwater animals.
Praia do Camilo – This ravishing beach is located in Lagos. Famous for its beautiful rocky formations that manipulate shadows and colours in a unique way, it is one of the most popular beaches for snorkelling in the west coast of the Algarve and is known as a snorkelling heaven.
Praia Dona Ana –The rocks and cliffs, together with the marvellous blue water of the ocean, make it seem like you are in an exotic island somewhere lost in the pacific. Have fun exploring the underground caves.
Praia de Benagil – Deep on the bottom of a valley, next to a picturesque fisherman’s village, in Carvoeiro, lies this breath-taking secluded beach. It is near this beach that there are the famous caves of Benagil including the Algar de Benagil, the largest of the caves with a circular opening in the ceiling (‘the eye’) through which light enters and which hides a small beach inside. Around this cave lies a snorkeler’s paradise as the type of reef that is created harvests some incredibly rich nature.
Praia da Marinha – Regarded as one of 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe and one of the 100 most beautiful in the world, this multi-times awarded beach has been used by international advertising agencies and television stations around the world. Its water is in fact so transparent that the seabed becomes visible to those standing on the dunes of the beach.
Praia dos Aveiros – This is a quiet and calm beach located in Albufeira. The beauty of the place will make you fall in love with it. It is ideal for snorkelling during summer, since it doesn’t get as crowded as other beaches in the Algarve.
Praia de Armação de Pêra – Warm blue and shallow sea makes this a popular beach for those wanting to do snorkelling.
Praia da Ilha da Culatra – Culatra’s island is inhabited by fishermen throughout the year. Its rich biodiversity, calm waters and stunning beauty has been enchanting snorkelers and divers ever since.
Praia da Ilha da Fuseta – The Island of Fuseta has calm and warm waters that allow you to be inside the sea for long periods of time without feeling cold. Because it is an island and is placed in the middle of Ria Formosa Natural Reserve there are lots of fish and other sea-creatures.
Praia da Ilha de Tavira – Located on the Island of Tavira, right in front of the city, the Island stands between Rio Gilão and the sea. This means that on the same place you will be able to do snorkelling in the sea or in the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve. This is a perfect place for snorkelling.
Recommended Snorkelling Trips:
Besides these beaches, there are also a bunch of snorkelling trips spread out across the Algarve. Here are our recommendations:
Ferragudo Coastal Snorkelling Tour –This tour across the crystal clear Atlantic waters has a diving master as a guide. With him you will be able to find some of the most exciting and ecologically rich areas in the Algarve. All the equipment you need is provided to you on the trip.
Albufeira Snorkeling – On this trip you will be taken to the best hotspot for snorkelling in Albufeira to explore the diversity of marine wildlife. Secluded beaches that can only be accessed by boat gather many fish species and water plants that are sure to make this an unforgettable experience. All the equipment is provided to you and, in case you have never been snorkelling before, there will be trained professionals ready to help you in every step of the process.
Coastal Kayak Cave and Snorkeling Trip in Lagos – This is one of the most exciting trips on this list. Have fun exploring the clear waters of Lagos on a 3-hour guided kayak tour. Paddle off from Praia da Batata in two-person kayak (there is also pace for two adults and a child) and gently stroll along the secluded beaches and spectacular caves of the area. At some point you will stop kayaking and will be able to explore the shore while snorkeling.
The BBQ Ria Formosa Boat Trip from Faro – Another great way to discover the beautiful region of the Algarve while getting the chance to do snorkelling, this whole trip lasts for 5.30 hours. It includes the chance to do SUP (stand up paddle), kayaking, island tours, swim stop and snorkelling. The barbecue includes chicken, pork, fish, sausage, vegetables, salad, water, juice and fruit.
Sailing and BBQ Catamaran Trip in Vilamoura – Similar to the previous one, this one is done in Vilamoura and the boat is a catamaran. Depending on the weather, you may even get to see some dolphins!