Last Updated on 27 July 2022
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Looking for the best boat trip in Albufeira?
On a recent trip to Portugal, I was lucky enough to partner with local company Allboat Albufeira who gifted me a Benagil Caves and Dolphin Search boat trip for 2. In this blog post, I will give you an honest review of my trip with them. And let me tell you, I’ve got no intentions of deceiving anyone, so just because this trip was gifted to me, don’t you think I’m going to only include the good stuff. But (spoiler alert), the difficulty is, there’s nothing bad to say! So, if you want to find out why I think that Allboat offers one of the best boat trips in Albufeira, then read on my friend!
Note: A big thank you to my partner who accompanied me on this boat trip and took the photos for this review!
Who is Allboat?
Operating from Albufeira Marina, Allboat was born in 2017 and currently owns 2 rib boats that seat 18 people. With some fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor, Allboat pride themselves on their customer-focus and creating unforgettable memories for those who board their vessels. Allboat offer various trips, from caves and dolphin watching cruises from Albufeira (known on their website as Benagil Caves and Dolphin Search) to other Algarve boat trips (such as their Benagil Caves and Coastline trip, or their Benagil sunset trip), which are definitely one of the top things to do in Albufeira.
About the rib boats
If you’re expecting a gentle cruise down the Algarve coast when you book your trip with Allboat, then think again. Their vessels are rib boats which means that you are in for a bumpy and speedy ride. Hold on to the handrails tight and secure your sun hat because crashing over the waves whilst listening to a spot of reggae music as the wind sweeps through your hair is all part of the thrill. We sat right at the front of the boat, and apart from when we went close to the coastline and the water lapped from the cliff onto the boat, we didn’t get wet so you shouldn’t have to worry about that too much.
Tip: Top up the sun cream before you board the boat because you won’t have time to do this on board (if you try, it’s probably going to end badly with your sun cream taking a dive to the bottom of the sea). Because you’re on the water, you might be more susceptible to burning.
Dolphin and cave tour from Albufeira with Allboat – the review
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, what I hope you’re all here for, my review of the Benagil Caves and Dolphin Search boat trip with Allboat. Allboat depart from Albufeira’s colourful Marina, which is a short distance from the Old Town (approx. 30 minutes walk from the centre). As you approach the Marina from the Old Town, you will see a few kiosks on the left alongside the waters edge (before you get to the vibrant blocks of flats), one of which is for Allboat. If you need any assistance, you can locate Allboat on Google Maps. This hut is where you will need to go to present yourself on the day of your trip, when you will be handed a little credit-card sized boarding pass and told which harbour gate you are departing from.
Tip: I would recommend you pre-book your trip with Allboat in advance online, because I wouldn’t want you to get all the way to the kiosk and find there is no availability.
It was suggested that we arrive at least 30 minutes before our scheduled departure time. However, we decided to get there even earlier to ensure we had enough time to walk the distance from Albufeira Old Town, check in, and have a drink at the Marina. Sun cream replenished, feeling refreshed and boarding passes in hand, we headed to the departure gate and congregated with the others on our tour. The rib boat arrived a few minutes later than scheduled due to the trip beforehand overrunning, but this was no hassle and good communication from Allboat staff left us feeling like we hadn’t been stranded! A short while later once the group before us had disembarked, we were equipped with life jackets and boarded our Albufeira boat tour.
As you know if you’ve read this far, we sat at the very front of the boat which I would recommend, especially if you want to add a pinch more exhilaration to your trip. From the very moment we stepped onto the boat, the Allboat staff were welcoming, upbeat and really quite hilarious. As we gently headed out of the Marina bound for the Algarve coastline, staff briefed us on the itinerary for the 2 ½ hour trip and some dos and don’ts whilst onboard. The sedate boat ride didn’t last for long, and as soon as we were beyond the breakwater and in the open sea, the captain hit full throttle as we headed down the coastline.
Every so often we would slow down at various points of interest along the coast to take a closer look, and the knowledgeable Allboat crew would give us background information and fun facts about these places, with a hint of humour thrown in. Some of the places we stopped on our boat trip from Albufeira to Benagil were caves, secret beaches, rock arches and formations (some of which looked like megastars such as King Kong,) and the most beautiful chapel on the cliff edge (Chapel Nossa Senhora da Rocha). There was also the opportunity to swim, but none of the group chose to, probably because the water was pretty damn cold. All of this was in the build up to visiting the impressive Benagil Cave, which was the furthest point west that we reached.
Benagil Cave literally took my breath away. I had seen photos of it before visiting, but I didn’t quite anticipate for it to be as curiously spectacular as it was. Now you might be wondering what is so special about Benagil Cave, well, not only is it impressive in size, it has a circular hole in its roof which allows the sunlight to come gushing through. What I continue to find so baffling about this, is how that hole managed to form in the roof of the sea cave, and whilst inside I found myself gazing up in pure awe. The inside of Benagil Cave is a busy place, given its internet fame in recent years, and you will see many boats, kayakers and paddle boarders coming in and out, and people swimming from the beach.
Tip: If you want to get a closer look at Benagil Cave or other parts of the coastline, then going on a trip in a smaller boat, such as this one with Allboat, will probably be beneficial. I noticed that some of the largest catamaran-style vessels couldn’t get as close as we could, for obvious reasons.
Before we headed off in search of dolphins (which was the most eagerly awaited part of the trip for our group), Allboat gave us plenty of opportunities for photos in Benagil Cave. Now, as the crew will say, the dolphins are wild animals so sightings are not guaranteed, however they do communicate with other boats to try and find them. We were insanely lucky, as we managed to see two pods of dolphins including calves (babies) which were swimming in every direction around the boat. This moment has to be one of the most heart-warming and memorable experiences of my trip to Portugal. I particularly liked the care Allboat took to cause the least disruption they could to the dolphins and that they were considerate enough to leave after a while to afford other boats the opportunity to come into the area.
As our Albufeira boat trip was drawing to a close, we crashed back along the waves, music sounding, bound for the Marina. The journey back to where we started was quite a chilly one, as we were on the open sea a little further away from the shelter of the coastline, so I’d recommend taking a thin jumper or small jacket, especially if you are visiting Portugal in the shoulder season. On the way back, the captain slalomed around rock stacks and as we approached the breakwater, he decided to take us on one final exhilarating spin, which ended our trip on a high and left everyone with smiles all round!
Should I go on an Albufeira boat trip with Allboat?
In summary, I would definitely recommend taking a boat trip to see the caves and dolphins with Allboat. If you want a leisurely cruise down the Algarve coast, then this trip probably isn’t for you, and you might be better seeking the services of a catamaran or larger boat. But if you love a dose of adrenaline, the feel of the wind sweeping through your hair to the sound of upbeat music, witty staff, and want to get up close and personal with the coastline, then Allboat might be for you! I hope this post has helped you to decide who to take your Albufeira boat trip with when you visit, and that you get to visit Portugal very soon! Once again, a big thanks to the team at Allboat, it was a privilege to partner with you!
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