Having visited the Algarve twice, I now want to talk about the most beautiful beach there. Not just in Portugal but this beach often features in Europe’s most beautiful beaches lists.
I’m talking about Praia da Marinha, a.k.a. the Marinha Beach with golden sand and stunning rock formations.
Introducing Praia da Marinha
We all have heard of the Algarve, the coastal region in Portugal with insanely beautiful rock formations. But you do know what’s the most beautiful beach in the Algarve? It is Praia da Marinha, also sometimes called the Navy Beach.
I visited the Algarve for the first time in 2022 but revisited it in 2023 and based my trip around Marinha Beach. I did lots of research so that you don’t need to. I spent a lot of time here so you will find my complete guide to Marinha Beach useful.
Praia da Marinha is considered one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe by the Michelin Guide and also as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. It also received the Golden Beach Award from the Ministry of Environment in Portugal due to its outstanding natural qualities.
Many guides call Marinha Beach a “small beach” but let me give you a perspective. It is much bigger than Italy’s small beaches with pebbles that get overly crowded in summer. It is also bigger than many beaches of the Algarve region but smaller than Dona Ana beach of Lagos and smaller than Praia do Nazare.
Table of Contents
Where is Praia da Marinha?
So if you want to make the Marinha beach a star of your beach holiday, then you have to stay in the nearby Carvoeiro, which is just 7 kilometers away. In fact, in my Algarve itinerary post, I suggest picking Carvoeiro as your base and then Lagos.
Another option would be to stay at Armação de Pêra, which is 9 kilometers away. You can also stay at Benagil village, which is less than 4 kilometers away but I found it a little boring. Also, the city of Lagoa is 7 kilometers away but there’s no beach.
How to Reach Praia da Marinha
There are many ways you can reach Marinha Beach. I have visited on a kayak, on a taxi, by hiking, and on a Stand-up Paddleboard. You can also arrive here by bus and I will talk about all these points in detail below.
Reaching Praia da Marinha by Car
You can reach Praia da Marinha from Carvoeiro by car by heading east on Estr. do Farol toward R. do Povo do Burro and then follow the Estr. da Marinha.
In order to reach Praia da Marinha by car from Armação de Pêra, you can EM530-1 to Porches, and turn left onto Estr. do Poço Santo to EM1154, then left on to EM1154 to Estr. da Marinha. You can also do this route by N125 but that has a toll fee, and it was earlier known to be the most dangerous road in Europe.
If you are traveling in Portugal with another friend, family, or just your partner, it makes more sense to just rent a car and explore by driving. Car rental prices in Portugal are lower than the nearby countries like France and Italy.
If you do end up renting a car, then not just the Marinha beach, but you can also explore the stunning beaches of Lagos like the legendary Praia do Camilo.
Reaching Marinha Beach on Taxi / Uber
Uber is shockingly affordable in Portugal and we often use this app-based taxi service to move from Carvoeiro to Praia da Marinha. We usually paid EUR 8 or 9 for two people and splitting it for two people made it super affordable. So if you are traveling in a group, then getting on Uber is going to be the best option for you.
Tip: Normal taxis are way more expensive than app-based services. So download Uber and Bolt and use taxis to make your life simpler.
Reaching Praia da Marinha by Bus
There is a bus stop right outside Praia da Marinha, where bus 77 runs twice daily to Benagil and Lagoa. This is the Vamus bus service and you can buy your ticket on the bus as you get in. This makes arriving at Marinha Beach by public transport easy.
I traveled a lot by Vamus bus service in 2022 when I was in Lagos and I usually paid EUR 1 or 1.50 for a ride, sometimes even less. I didn’t use the bus in 2023 because I had a friend to split the taxi fare with.
Reaching Praia da Marinha by Train
From the Faro train station, get on train R 5906 that’s going in Lagos direction, and get off at Estombar Lagoa. You can buy the tickets on the train itself, no need to buy from before. Note that “Lagos” and “Lagoa” are not the same.
From Lagoa, take a bus from Estômbar (Estação CP) stop to Barros Brancos, which will take around 15 minutes. From there, you can get on bus 77 that comes to Marinha Beach.
So if you want to use public transport to arrive at Marinha Beach, a bus will be easier because you just have to change it once.
Reaching Marinha Beach by Hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys trail
One of the best ways of reaching Praia da Marinha is by hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys trail that starts in Carvoeiro and ends at Marinha Beach. The middle point is Benagil.
The Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail is beginner-friendly. Just make sure to wear non-slippery hiking shoes and stay on the hiking path. There are a lot of holes in the rocks on this hike, which are called “algares” which are fenced off for safety.
This hike goes on top of the Benagil Cave beach too. In fact, the path from Benagil Village to Praia da Marinha is the prettiest part of this hike.
It will take you 1 hour – 1.5 hours (or more) to hike from Benagil Village to Praia da Marinha. For the complete route starting from Vale de Centeanes in Carvoeiro to Marinha Beach, it will take you double.
We did this hike and realized that the best way to do it was to split it. Also, there is a beautiful heart-shaped hole in the rocks that comes on this hiking trail. I will talk more about that later.
Reaching Marinha Beach on a Kayak or SUP
One of the most fun things that you can do in the Algarve is to get on a kayak or a paddleboard to explore the caves. I did a kayak tour to visit the Benagil Caves in 2022 and then the next year I visited the Benagil Cave and Marinha beach on an SUP in 2023.
I have SUPed on lakes before but SUPing on the Atlantic ocean waves was really something else. Standing on the paddle board wasn’t so easy so I was mostly sitting during this SUP ride. I should call it a “sit-down paddleboard” trip instead of a “stand-up paddleboard”.
No matter which tour you pick, Kayaking or SUPing almost all of these tours for Benagil Cave end on Marinha Beach. But only some of them include getting off at Marinha Beach to see it because most of them just turn from the arched rock, take the kayaks or SUPs under the arch, and head back to Benagil.
So if you want to include Marinha Beach on the same tour at Benagil Cave, please read the tour description very carefully before you book.
There are some boat trips that will take you to Marinha Beach and Benagil Cave but read the description very carefully because it isn’t allowed to get off big boats to go to walk on Benagil Beach.
Praia da Marinha Parking Info
There is a free parking place right outside Marinha Beach next to the bus stand. Click here for the Google Map coordinates for the parking spot at Praia da Marinha.
This parking lot is nice but isn’t the biggest. I’d say that the best time to arrive here is as early as 9 a.m. during the peak travel months of July and August.
The Long Staircase at the Entry Point
When you arrive at Praia da Marinha by car or bus, you have to climb down a long staircase to arrive at the beach. It is worth every bit of effort and the views from the steps are lovely.
At the start of the staircase top of the beach, there’s also a small car shelter.
Swimming at Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha is famous not just for its stunning backdrop of rocks but also its water quality. Not just from the beach but you will notice it when you arrive from the parking lot as you will see the clear blue water from up above, which looks more blue on a sunny day.
Yes, Portugal is a warm destination but when you go in the water for a swim, you will notice that it is very cold, even in the summer months. It is because you are swimming in the Atlantic Ocean!
I did say that the best time to arrive at Praia da Marinha is at 9 a.m. in high season to find a decent parking spot. But the best time for a swim is at least 11 am or even better after 12 when the body gets heated up by the sun.
The water is still going to be very cold but it is easier to swim during the mid-day or afternoon at Praia da Marinha. Go take a dip in the calm waters, the cool temperature is good for the nerves.
Still, Praia da Marinha is actually one of the best beaches in the Algarve for swimming because of its clear water and soft sand.
The times I visited, I didn’t see any seaweed on the water like some of the other nearby beaches. The only other beach that I think is as good for swimming as Praia da Marinha is the Camilo beach in Lagos.
The Rocks at Praia da Marinha
The most famous feature of the beaches of the Algarve is the rocks. These rock formations have taken years of erosion from the wind and sea to look the way they look now.
These rocks form a unique backdrop to this golden sand beach and you can see hues of brown, orange, and golden.
There is a big rock that divides the Marinha beach into two and is towards the right side as you enter the beach. When the tide is high, you can swim around the rock but be careful and maintain enough distance so that the waves don’t push you onto the rock.
During low tide, you can just walk around the rock and it looks like one big beach. The smaller cove that’s created during high tide joins the main beach when the tide is low.
The rocks also create an arch that’s at the end of Marinha Beach on the right side. If you get on a kayak or a SUP, you can swim under the arch.
Thanks to the rock formations on Praia da Marinha, there are plenty of shaded areas to sit.
Restaurant & Bar at Praia da Marinha
There is a family-run snack bar that’s right on the beach that also has WC / toilets. This is the one and only place on Marinha Beach for buying drinks or food and is surprisingly affordable.
The Praia da Marinha restaurant is right at the end of the long staircase at the entry point of the beach, so you don’t need to make an effort to find it.
We ate at this restaurant twice and I loved my garlic prawns with bread, they were less than EUR 15 from what I remember. The homemade sangrias were pretty good too and were for just EUR 3 per glass.
My friend usually had a vegan meal of vegetable sandwich and she seemed to enjoy it. They also have soup of the day and it is worth checking that option too.
There are a few more food trucks and roadside places near the parking area. I didn’t try them because I found the restaurant and bar on the beach to be comfortable and affordable. Because of this restaurant and bar, it was easy for us to spend an entire day at Praia da Marinha.
Hiking around Praia da Marinha
As mentioned earlier in the how-to-reach section, an excellent way of exploring the area around Marinha Beach is by hiking. The Seven Valleys Hiking Trail starts at Vale de Centeanes in Carvoeiro and ends at Praia da Marinha.
If you don’t have time to do the full trail, just go on the hiking path that starts near the parking area of Praia da Marinha and see the great views from the surrounding cliffs. Hike in the direction of Benagil (go right from the parking area), stand on top of the cliffs and you will witness the most popular photo spot of Marinha Beach from the top.
Yes, the Seven Valleys Hiking trail ends here but if you hike from Marinha Beach to the other direction instead of this hiking trail, you will see the stunning Praia da Malhada do Baraço from the top. For this, you have to go left from the parking area and the Marinha Beach entry spot.
The best time for this delightful walk is the sunrise or sunset time because the scenery turns golden. If you like hiking, I also have a post about Ponta da Piedade – another amazing hiking area in the Algarve.
How to Find the Heart in the Rocks over Praia da Marinha
For the last 2-3 years, there has been a photo of a heart in the rocks that has been going viral on Instagram. This spot is right on top of Marinha Beach on the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail.
In reality, this is just an illusion of a heart that’s made when 3 rocks overlap as you stand at a particular spot.
So, if you want to find this heart in the rock, you have to walk towards the right-hand side of the Praia da Marinha parking and go on the hiking trail. Walk for 5 – 10 minutes and you will reach Elephant Rock, or “Rocha do Elefante”, also called “m rock” because it is shaped like that alphabet.
When you can see the elephant rock, you have to get off the hiking path and stand on the edge to see the heart that’s made by overlapping cliffs. Most people don’t even notice it and just move past it.
The Elephant rock itself is beautiful and if you stand on the cliffs that face it, you get rewarded with incredible views. Walk a little here and look for a spot where the nearby cliffs can complete a heart with the elephant rock. If you are lucky, you will have that spot to yourself like we did.
I was here first at high tide and then I revisited to see the sunset at low tide, both the times the heart looked as lovely as ever.
Hotels near Praia da Marinha
I will mention a few options for places to stay in Carvoeiro, Marinha, and Benagil. But first Carvoeiro, because that’s where we stayed.
Rocha Brava Village Resort
This is a massive resort in Carvoeiro near Vale de Centeanes beach with many kinds of accommodation options. There are villas, family houses, and even apartments. The location is spot on because the Seven Hanging Valleys hiking trail starts right here. And also the beautiful Vale de Centeanes beach is a short walk away. This beach is like a smaller version of Marinha Beach.
We paid around EUR 100 per night for our apartment which had a kitchen, living room, balcony, dressing area, bath, and bedroom. The landscaping at Rocha Brava Village Resort is simply the best, we had bougainvilleas, the bird of paradise, and even a waterfall near our room.
If you do end up staying in Rocha Brava village, you can easily do the Seven Hanging Valleys hike, early morning kayaking, or SUP to Benagil Cave and then hike from there to Marinha.
Moreover, I found Carvoeiro to be an excellent base and I loved the Algar Seco cave walk and Carvoeiro boardwalk in general.
Casa Marinha Beach
This is the only place that’s super close to Marinha Beach and it sells out in advance for this reason. It is just 500 meters away from the beach.
The bedrooms at Casa Marinha are air-conditioned. The apartment comes with a kitchen, outdoor pool, washing machine, garden, and a terrace. This place has a stunning view,
The cost per night is usually EUR 175 and is perfect for a family of 4 and they also provide a baby bed on request.
FAQs about Visiting Marinha Beach
Is Praia da Marinha Family Friendly?
Yes, Praia da Marinha is family-friendly because the sand is soft and there are hardly any pebbles on the beach. If you are here with small children, keep them away from swimming near the big rock during the high tide.
What is the closest town to Praia da Marinha?
Technically speaking, the closest town to Marinha Beach is Lagoa of central Algarve, but there’s no beach there. Benagil Village is the closest beach destination to Praia da Marinha. But if you are looking for a beach destination with a town too, then Carvoeiro is for you.
Lagoa Town: 7 Kilometers (no beach),
Benagil Village: 4 Kilometers (then you are close to Benagil Beach and Benagil Cave),
Carvoeiro: 7 Kilometers (beaches, resorts, and town)
Armação de Pêra in Silves: 9 Kilometers (beach, resorts and town).
How to get to Marinha Beach from Albufeira?
In order to reach Marinha Beach from Albuferia, you need to get on bus 56 that’s going in Lagos direction. Get off at Lagoa (not Lagos) and from there get on bus 77, which will directly take you to Praia da Marinha.
You can also reach Marinha Beach on a rented car or taxi from Albufeira. It will take you 30 minutes and it is roughly 25 kilometers.
What is the closest airport to Marinha Beach?
The Gago Coutinho International Airport (FAO) at Faro is the closest airport to Praia da Marinha. It is 59 Kilometers away from Marinha Beach.
Closing Thoughts about visiting Marinha Beach
Marinha Beach is a perfect spot for spending a perfect beach day for every kind of traveler – the whole family or couples or adventure travelers on kayaks or SUPs. It is an award-winning beach and deserves all its hype.
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