The Portimão port authority has prohibited the entry and exit of canoes, kayaks, and boards on six beaches near Lagoa’s famous Benagil cave, one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Algarve.
The measure, which came into effect on September 10, aims to “safeguard human life at sea, provide assistance, and maintain the safety” of boats and people visiting that cave.
The statement, published on the website of the National Maritime Authority and signed by Portimão’s port captain, Eduardo Godinho, reveals that the measure applies to the beaches of Vale Centeanes, Carvalho, Benagil, Marinha, Barranquinho, and Albandeira, all in the borough of Lagoa.
According to the statement, the measure, excluding prohibitions in cases of rescue and emergencies, will remain in effect “until mechanisms are created to control the flow of these vessels in the water column adjacent to these beaches,” with violators subject to fines.
These “mechanisms” are currently being discussed by a working group created by the government which recently held its first meeting.
Portimão’s port captain justifies the measure by noting that the coastal area in this zone is primarily composed of cliffs that are “permanently or periodically” exposed to the sea’s action.
“The natural evolution (erosion) of the cliffs occurs in an intermittent and discontinuous sequence of instantaneous cliff falls, a dynamic that poses a danger to the users of this coastline,” the document states.
Since it is impossible to predict the occurrence of potential cliff falls, and considering the exponential increase in tourist activities in recent years, this is a way to safeguard the safety of beachgoers who frequent the area.
According to Eduardo Godinho, those who rent these kinds of vessels often end up going to small beaches within risk zones, with no control to limit the number of users accessing the sand and water.
As a result, there are significant “accumulations in the water column, along with high local boat traffic, often leading to accidents,” he said.
In the notice, Godinho also points out that the number of users and visitors to the Benagil cave far exceeds the number of boat users in the area, with most of them being private individuals or customers of other companies.
By accessing the cave independently, they often disembark on the beach inside the cave, which is “entirely within risk zones of the cliffs,” meaning it is entirely contained in an area “potentially affected by debris from any mass movement.”
This is evidenced by the visible blocks on that beach, which are the result of debris from previous movements, he adds.