Updated News: Benagil Cave Closed!

Access to the famous cave denied to certain watercrafts for safety reasons.

Algarve Beauties Benagil Cave tour experience from faro .

Updated: October 17, 2023

What's Going On? Is The Benagil Cave Closed?

In a bid to ensure the safety of all visitors and protect human life at sea, authorities have announced the temporary closure of access to the renowned Benagil Cave, effective September 10, 2023 for certain watercrafts.

This decision comes as a response to the increasing number of incidents involving canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards in the area.

In a statement released on the 11th of October 2023 (11/10/2023), local authorities have updated the rules relating to visiting inside the Benagil Cave with certain types of Watercrafts.

“MINISTÉRIO DA DEFESA NACIONAL AUTORIDADE MARITIMA NACIONAL CAPITANIA DO PORTO DE PORTIMÃO

EDITAL 327/2023

Eduardo Luis Pousadas Godinho, Capitão-de-Fragata, Capitão do Porto de Portimão, faz saber, no uso das competências que lhe são conferidas pelo n.º 1, alínea c) do n.º 2, alínea a) do nº 3, e pela alínea g) do n.° 4, todos do artigo 13º do Decreto-Lei n.º 44/2002, de 2 de março, na sua atual redação, bem como o definido nas alíneas a), h) e k) do art. 2º, e no n.º 1 e 2 do art.° 14° do Decreto-Lei n.º 159/2012, de 24 de julho. na sua atual redação, considerando também a alinea d) do nº1 do art.° 46°, juntamente com a alinea a) do nº 1 e alinea c) do n° 2 do art.° 4°, e as alíneas c) e h) do art. 5º, todos da Lei 27/2006, de 3 de julho, na sua atual redação, faz saber:

Considerando que:

O litoral costeiro, entre a praia de Benagil e a praia da Marinha, é constituido na sua maioria por vertentes rochosas denominadas de arribas, que, por definição, encontram- se permanentemente ou periodicamente expostas à ação do mar.

A evolução (erosão) natural das arribas processa-se numa sequência intermitente e descontínua de derrocadas instantâneas, dinâmica esta que constitui perigo para os utentes deste litoral.

Os desmoronamentos são muito variáveis no espaço e no tempo, dependendo de inúmeros fatores, como a intensidade e frequência da ação de agentes climáticos, a fracturação e o tipo de rocha em que a arriba é talhada, a ocupação humana, a presença de vegetação, a vibração, a sismicidade, entre outros, não sendo possível prever a ocorrência desses desmoronamentos.

Na área em causa, tem-se verificado nos últimos anos um aumento exponencial de atividades turisticas, de atividades marítimo turisticas, de atividades de recreio náutico e atividades balneares junto à costa, na área terrestre e no plano aquático (maritimo) e que estas atividades recorrem a praias balneares de pequenas dimensões, inseridas em faixas de risco, sem qualquer mecanismo de controlo que permita limitar ou condicionar o número de utilizadores que acedem ao areal e ao espelho de água, originando, grandes acumulações, no espelho de água, em simultáneo com o tráfego de embarcações locais na área também elevado, causando frequentemente, acidentes entre eles.

Que os utilizadores e visitantes da gruta de Benagil excedem largamente em número, os utentes das embarcações na área, sendo na sua maioria, utilizadores particulares ou clientes de outras empresas que arrendam os meios para o acesso por meios próprios para deslocação e visita a esta gruta, frequentemente desembarcando na praia existente no interior da gruta de Benagil.

Que a praia existente na gruta de Benagil, o espelho de água no interior da gruta e a praia da Marinha estão integralmente abrangidas por faixas de risco das arribas, o mesmo é dizer que estão integralmente contidas em áreas potencialmente atingidas por detritos de eventuais movimentos de massa, como comprovam os blocos visiveis nessas praias resultantes de detritos de anteriores movimentos registados.

A dispersão dos diversos enquadramentos legais para as várias atividades no mar, bem como a utilização dos mais variados tipos de veículos aquáticos, com diversos tipos de propulsão e, a existência de diversas habilitações legais para a prática dessas mesmas atividades no mar.

A criação do grupo de trabalho multidisciplinar com a missão de estabelecer a capacidade de carga humana e de determinar as condições de acesso às Grutas de Benagil, instituído pelo Despacho Conjunto n.° 8777/2023, de 30 de agosto.

Atento à necessidade mitigar o risco de acidente em torno da gruta de Benagil, à necessidade de garantir e salvaguardar a vida humana no mar, a prestação de socorro e a manutenção da segurança dos visitantes e das embarcações que visitam as grutas, e da navegação em geral na área, implementam-se as medidas de controlo da navegação abaixo referidas, por um periodo experimental de 1 (um) mês, devendo ser reavaliadas a 10 de novembro de 2023:

1. A atividade Maritimo Turistica (MT) de aluguer de caiaques e pranchas quando realizada pelas praias de Vale Centeanes, Carvalho, Barranquinho, Albandeira e Barranco, obriga á supervisão de um caiaque guia por cada cinco caiaques ou pranchas:

2. Os guias dos caiaques serão obrigatoriamente equipados com equipamentos de segurança, a saber. apito, navalha, kit primeiros socorros, um meio de comunicações com terra e um cabo para o caso de ser necessário rebocar um dos caiaques do grupo.

3. Todos os elementos embarcados terão obrigatoriamente de usar colete de salvação:

4. Cada empresa não poderá ter mais de 12 (doze) caiaques ou pranchas em operação e terão de estar identificados com o nome da empresa licenciada para a atividade maritimo turística;

5. Não é autorizada a operação de caiaques e pranchas a partir da Marinha e a sua permanência no areal é interdita;

6. É criada a “Área de Benagil delimitada pelos meridianos 008° 25′ 44″ We 008° 25° 20 W e pela linha de costa e o paralelo 37° 05′ 10” N. Nesta área a atividade MT de aluguer de caiaques e pranchas é interdita, conforme esquema abaixo.

What Are The Authorities Saying?

The document titled “MINISTÉRIO DA DEFESA NACIONAL AUTORIDADE MARÍTIMA NACIONAL CAPITANIA DO PORTO DE PORTIMÃO EDITAL 327/2023” is an official public notice issued by Eduardo Luis Pousadas Godinho, Capitão-de-Fragata, who serves as the Captain of the Port of Portimão, which is a maritime authority in Portugal. This notice contains several key points and explanations:

  1. Legal Authority: The document outlines the legal authority vested in Eduardo Luis Pousadas Godinho by various articles and sections of Portuguese law. These legal provisions empower him to take specific actions in matters related to maritime safety and regulations.

  2. Coastal Geology and Safety Concerns: The document describes the geographical characteristics of the coastal area between Benagil Beach and Marinha Beach, emphasizing that this area consists mainly of rocky cliffs known as “arribas.” It highlights that these cliffs are continuously or periodically exposed to the action of the sea, leading to natural erosion processes and cliff collapses. These collapses are unpredictable and pose a significant risk to people using this coastline.

  3. Rise in Touristic and Maritime Activities: The document notes a substantial increase in tourist activities, maritime tourism, recreational water activities, and beach-related activities in this coastal area, both on land and at sea. It mentions that these activities are conducted in small beach areas located within the risk zones of cliff collapses. The absence of control mechanisms to limit or regulate the number of users on these beaches has led to large crowds, often simultaneously with high boat traffic, resulting in frequent accidents.

  4. Visitor and Boat Traffic: The document points out that the number of visitors and users accessing the Benagil Cave far exceeds the number of boats in the area. Most of these visitors are either private individuals or clients of other companies who rent equipment for self-guided exploration of the cave, often disembarking on the beach inside Benagil Cave.

  5. Cliff Risk Zones: It is mentioned that the beach within Benagil Cave, the water mirror inside the cave, and Marinha Beach are entirely within the risk zones of these coastal cliffs. These areas are at risk of being affected by debris resulting from potential cliff collapses, as evidenced by visible debris on these beaches from past incidents.

  6. New Maritime Regulations: The document announces the implementation of specific maritime regulations to address the safety concerns and risks associated with these coastal conditions. These regulations are outlined as measures to control maritime activities in the area and ensure visitor safety. These measures are set for a one-month experimental period, with a reevaluation scheduled for November 10, 2023. The regulations include:
    • Supervision requirements for kayak and paddleboard rentals on specific beaches.
    • Safety equipment requirements for kayak guides.
    • Mandatory use of life jackets for all individuals onboard.
    • Operational limitations on the number of kayaks and paddleboards.
    • Prohibition of operations at Marinha Beach.
    • Establishment of a restricted area, known as the “Benagil Area,” where kayak and paddleboard rentals are strictly prohibited.

 

In summary, the document explains the background, safety concerns, and legal authority behind the implementation of new maritime regulations in the coastal area around Benagil Cave in Portugal. These regulations aim to ensure the safety of visitors, regulate maritime activities, and protect the environment in the face of unpredictable cliff collapses and increasing tourism.

The Consequences?

1. Temporary Closure of Cave Access:

With this latest update, the most notable impact is the continued temporary closure of access to the Benagil Cave for specific types of watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.

These watercraft are prohibited from entering or exiting the cave since September 10, 2023, and will continue to be until further notice.

2. Restricted Operation Locations:

The new regulation specifies the prohibition of watercraft operations, including rentals, at specific beaches in the area, namely:

  • Benagil Beach,
  • Marinha Beach,

Visitors are not allowed to use these types of watercraft from these locations.

3. Increased Supervision and Safety Measures

Where Kayaks, Canoes, and SUPs are allowed to operate, the regulations mandate enhanced safety measures for visitors participating in maritime activities.

For example, rental companies must provide supervision in the form of a kayak guide for every five kayaks or paddleboards.

These guides are required to carry safety equipment, such as whistles, first aid kits, communication devices, and towing cables, to ensure visitor safety.

4. Mandatory Life Jackets:

All individuals on board kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are obligated to wear life jackets, which adds an extra layer of safety to their activities.

5. Operational Limitations:

There are restrictions on the number of kayaks and paddleboards a company can operate, allowing for better control of the total number of watercrafts in the area.

Rental companies will also be required to clearly identify their equipment with their company name.

6. Prohibited Operations at Marinha Beach:

The latest changes explicitly prohibit the operation of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards from Marinha Beach during the specified period.

Visitors and operators are not allowed to engage in these activities from this beach.

7. Creation of a Restricted Area:

What can be considered the most important news and update.

A restricted area, known as the “Benagil Area,” is defined, where the rental of kayaks and paddleboards is entirely forbidden.

This area is specified by geographical coordinates, ensuring that no maritime tourism activities take place within this designated zone.

Benagil Cave Closed, New Restricted Area Created
The New Benagil Area, showing the restricted area for rentals.

Benagil Cave Closure Summary

Let’s recap all the latest news and developments regarding the Benagil Cave closure.

Who Is Banned From Entering?

The watercrafts that are not allowed to enter Benagil Cave, during the closure period are:

Canoes: small, narrow boats typically paddled by one or more people, will not be permitted to access the cave or the specified beaches during the closure.

Kayaks: small, narrow watercraft typically paddled with a double-bladed paddle, will also be restricted from entering the cave and the mentioned beaches.

Stand-up Paddleboards (SUPs): which are long, narrow boards that users stand on and paddle with a single-bladed paddle, will not be allowed into Benagil Cave or the affected beach areas.

Are Boats Allowed To Enter?

Based on the news curently available it would seem that boats and other engine powered watercrafts that can carry multiple passengers are not banned from navigating near the Benagil cave area.

However the longstanding ban to beach inside the cave is still in effect.

You can see those who provide these Benagil Cave boat tours here.

Can You Swim Inside The Benagil Cave?

As of the information provided swimming inside the Benagil Cave may still be allowed.

The latest dispatch primarily addresses the temporary restrictions on specific types of watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, from accessing the cave and certain beaches due to safety concerns related to the coastal cliffs.

To confirm the latest regulations and whether swimming inside the cave is permitted, it is advisable to check with local authorities or relevant sources, as the situation may evolve.

is it Possible To Use A Kayak, Canoe and/or SUP in the area?

The latest dispatch outlines the following rules and restrictions when it comes to Canoes, Kayaks and Stand up paddleboards:

  1. These watercrafts are allowed to operate from the beaches of:
    • Vale Centeanes,
    • Carvalho,
    • Barranquinho,
    • Albandeira.

  2. Operation of kayaks, canoes, and SUPs is prohibited from Marinha Beach.

  3. A designated area known as the “Benagil Area” is created, delimited by specific coordinates, where the operation of these watercraft is strictly prohibited.

 

It’s important to follow these guidelines and operate kayaks, canoes, and SUPs only from the permitted beaches mentioned in the document.

Violating these regulations could lead to safety concerns and potential legal issues.

Visitors and water sports enthusiasts are encouraged to check for any updates or changes in these regulations with the local maritime authorities or relevant sources before planning their activities in the area.

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Concluding Remarks

In summary, the recent updates regarding the Benagil Cave highlight significant changes for visitors and watercraft operators:

Temporary Closure of Cave Access: Since September 10, 2023, access to the Benagil Cave is temporarily closed to certain watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. This closure will remain in effect until further notice.

Restricted Operation Locations: Watercraft operations, including rentals, are prohibited at specific beaches in the area, which include Benagil Beach and Marinha Beach.

Increased Supervision and Safety Measures: Where kayaks, canoes, and SUPs are allowed to operate, strict safety measures have been implemented. Rental companies are required to provide supervision with a kayak guide for every five watercraft, equipped with safety gear and first aid supplies.

Mandatory Life Jackets: Visitors using kayaks, canoes, and SUPs must wear life jackets for enhanced safety.

Operational Limitations: There are restrictions on the number of kayaks and paddleboards each company can operate. Equipment must be clearly marked with the company’s name.

Prohibited Operations at Marinha Beach: During the specified period, the operation of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards is not allowed at Marinha Beach.

Creation of a Restricted Area: A designated “Benagil Area” has been established where rental of kayaks and paddleboards is entirely forbidden, marked by specific geographical coordinates.

It is essential for visitors and water sports enthusiasts to adhere to these updated regulations to ensure safety and compliance with the law.

Stay informed and make responsible choices to enjoy your experience in the area.

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