Lagos and Ponta da Piedade

The sandstone arches and caves to the south and west of Lagos are a world class kayaking and SUP destination. In the summer KT Adventures does beginner-friendly tours from Lagos town every half hour, and after the one way trip down the coast the kayakers are towed back like a string of ducklings behind a motor boat.

Highlights include the “smuggler’s cave” in the left photo, with a skylight and a small external entrance, easy to miss if you don’t spot the small twinkling of light at the back of the cliff, supposedly used as a shelf for smuggled goods which could be passed through to someone on the neighbouring beach. The cave is accessible at all states of tide and don’t be afraid of the small entrance tunnel – once you are inside there is plenty of room to turn around. Location Here.

You will probably lose count of all the arches you can paddle under – new ones will open up as other ones become inaccessible due to water levels – but for the best experience avoid extremely low tides. Tide times Here.

Ponta da Piedade itself is incredibly photogenic and often crowded with motorboats and inflatable SUPs. At times the outside waters as you round the point can get choppy as you lose the protection of the bay and the tourist speedboats kick up wake. If this unnerves you, you may feel more comfortable paddling 20 metres from the cliffs to avoid the reflected waves (as long as the wind is not blowing you offshore!) However in summer it is usually calm and quite safe. Winter gales may bring out the thrill-seekers.

On the far side of the point the cliffs get even larger and grander with more blowholes, before you get to some beaches that can only be reached by boat. At this point the tour groups turn round, but you can choose to continue to the long curved sandy beach of Porto de Mos where there are beach cafés and road access.

Launching Points in Lagos Area

Cais da Solária (link) near the fort – sheltered and where the commercial tours leave. There is no parking but a car can drop off very close to the water.
Fishing port car park (link) – lots of free parking, half a dozen steps to flatwater launch point on the Rio Bensafrim just a few metres from the harbour exit, or stepfree launch on Meia Praia if preferred. SUPs should launch from the Meia Praia side as they are not allowed in the port approach channel.
Praia da Batata/Estudantes – access via steps to beach, may be paid parking at top of steps.
Do NOT launch from Praia do Camilo or Praia Dona Ana. They have long crowded staircases to the beach, and carrying boating or diving equipment is prohibited during regular hours in the bathing season.
Porto de Mos and Praia da Luz – car parks close to beach. No steps.

Plenty for non-kayakers to do

Other great paddles in the area include Ingrina and the Caves to the west. To the east the big attraction is Benagil , but closer to Lagos there is Alvor Lagoon for a flatwater trip.