The sea cliffs on the western edge of Lagos create the fantastical rock formation of Ponta da Piedade. Access to this ensemble of grottoes and sea arches is via hundreds of steps cut into the cliffs. However, the best way to appreciate it is by boat.
This rugged promontory in the western Algarve features majestic 20-metre-high ochre cliffs, calm green-blue waters and some of the most stunning rock formations, sea arches and caves that you will ever see. It is a great spot to come to watch the sun rise or set and provides excellent photography, snorkeling and boating opportunities. Birdwatchers might also enjoy looking out for migratory birds including falcons, egrets and swifts as they stop-off on the rocks just off the coast here.
The Ponta da Piedade headland lies around 3 km from Lagos town centre and can be accessed by road, by foot along a cliff-top path or, even better, by boat. The road from Lagos passes Praia de Dona Ana, with its beautiful, often crowded beach, the slightly quieter Praia do Camilo Beach and ends at a large car park next to a picturesque lighthouse (closed to the public). There is a café and souvenir shop here, and from this spot a flight of 182 stone steps lead down to the sea, giving visitors a chance to explore the grottos and spectacular rock formations below. The waters here are calm and crystal clear and the overall effect is quite simply magical.
One of the best ways to fully appreciate the beauty of this place is to approach the Ponta da Piedade from the water. Boat trips leave from Lagos Marina, with prices ranging from around €10 to €25 per person, depending on the length of the trip, the number of people in the boat and any extras, such as snorkel equipment which might be on offer. In the peak of the holiday season it might be necessary to book ahead. Boat trips continue in the winter season, weather permitting. For visitors who have walked or driven to the headland, local fishermen offer boat trips in smaller boats departing from the bottom of the stone steps, below the lighthouse. These smaller boats often have access to areas amongst the rock formations which larger boats cannot get to, and the local fishermen will tell you of the special names they have given to particular rocks and grottos. Look out for "General de Gaulle", "Submarino" (the Submarine) and "Gruta dos Amores" (the Grotto of Love).
Another exciting way to explore the sea caves, grottos and arches around the headland is to take a sea kayak trip from Praia da Batata in Lagos, or if you’re looking for a totally new, fun experience, why not take an (SUP) stand-up-paddle trip around the promontory?