A breathtaking coastline, with an almost endless array of creeks to explore

With nearly 850 km of coastline bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, mainland Portugal offers great snorkeling opportunities. The rocky coasts of the south of the country, in particular, are home to numerous coves where you can enjoy the local sea life.

If you go snorkeling in Portugal, however, expect cooler water temperatures than in the Mediterranean. The ocean can also be very rough, especially when there is wind or swell. Underwater visibility, often affected by sand and sediment, is also highly variable depending on the day.

Praia do Marinha, Portugal
Good snorkeling is found around scenic Praia da Marinha, one of the most famous beaches of Portugal.

The Algarve, which comprises the country’s stunning southern coastline, is considered the best region for snorkeling in Portugal. Along its jagged coastline, with cliffs sculpted by erosion, hide numerous coves with crystal clear waters.

In Lagos, Praia do Camilo is one of the best options, although you can also get in the water from the city, at Praia Dona Ana or Praia dos Estudantes.

Zebra seabream in Portugal
The zebra seabream is one of the most commonly spotted fish along the Portuguese coastline (here, photographed at Praia do Camilo).

Praia da Marinha, halfway between Portimão and Albufeira, is often considered the most beautiful beach in the region. You will never tire of snorkeling along its cliffs and rocky islets. Just one kilometer further west, Praia de Benagil is also a good option.

If you find yourself near Sagres, head to Praia do Martinhal or Praia do Burgau, while Praia dos Aveiros is considered the best spot in Albufeira. Dozens of other coves are suitable for snorkeling along the Algarve coast.

Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, Sesimbra
Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, near Sesimbra, is one of the nicest spots accessible from Lisbon.

The long sandy beaches of the Lisbon region are not very suitable for snorkeling. Instead, head to Sesimbra, about 40km south of the capital, where Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, a pretty sheltered cove bordered by rocks, is located.

Another famous snorkeling region in Portugal is the Berlengas Archipelago off Peniche. Several rocky coves can be explored in these small, wild islands, which also offer one of the best underwater visibility in the country.

School of sargo in Lagos
A school of sargo photographed in Praia dos Estudantes, in Lagos.

The mainland coast of Portugal has an underwater life very similar to that of the Mediterranean, with an abundance of wrasse, seabream, and mullet. The rocky areas allow observing small moray eels, octopus and cuttlefish, while flying gurnards and small stingrays are occasionally encountered on the sandy beds. The lucky ones may hope to observe a triggerfish or a filefish in the shallows.

Berlengas archipelago
São João Baptista Fort, in Berlengas archipelago, is surrounded by crystal-clear waters.

When to go snorkeling in Portugal?

Due to the water temperature, the best time to snorkel in Portugal is summer, from June to September. Even during this period, a wetsuit can be useful to protect against the cold: the water temperature rarely exceeds 68°F/20°C around Lisbon, and 74°F/23°C in the Algarve. The climate in Portugal is sunny, particularly in the Algarve, a region famous for its 300 days of sunshine per year.

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