Three different hikes are leading through this stunning Nature Reserve. The shortest is 2.1 km, the middle 5.5 km, and the trail along the whole peninsula is 9.2km long.
Best at low tide especially for the 9.2 km long hike around the peninsula. Tide times
Whale spotting from May to November possible.
Candelabra flowers in bloom from February to April.
In general, low rainfall in the Plettenberg area. Driest and coldest months are from June to October. The coolest and driest month is July. More precipitation in the hottest months from November until March. Most rainfall in March. However, Plettenberg gets more than 300 hours of sunshine each month in summer.
(updated by whentobewhere)
Benagil is famous for its caves, the coastal walk to several beaches and the lighthouse. It is a stunning walk from Benagil to the famous Praia de Marinha.
Inside of the famous Benagil Cave is a beach which is much bigger at low tide. Swimming into the cave can be quite challenging especially during rough seas! Swimm with a board and in a group not alone. Check the tides first before swimming! Anyhow, you need to be an experienced swimmer. An alternative is a boat trip to the existing caves at the Algarve.
Avoiding Crowds and Best Time for Swimming
Best months for swimming are June to September with pleasant sea temp. July and August are the peak season; Prices increase and beaches are pretty crowded. The Portuguese school holidays start mid-June and last roughly until the first week in September depending on the school. Therefore, the ideally times with fewer tourists and pleasant weather are the first half of June and at the beginning of September but even October is an excellent month. Bring a neoprene shorty for longer swimming though the sea temperature is around 21°C / 70°F during summer until October and 20°C / 68°F in June.
Benagil Cave during rough sea
The gannets are common to New Zealand.
The gannets start nesting in August and stay latest until April when the chicks are fledging. Muriwai is one of only three mainland gannet colonies. This bird sanctuary is easily accessible, and you get relatively close to the birds which make Muriwai unique. More than a thousand pairs of gannets nest at Muriwai each year.
Getting there is easy: It's just a forty minutes drive from Auckland to Muriwai. From the car park leads a short walking track to the main gannet colony and a viewing platform.
Hidden Gem Tour
From Auckland: The gannet colony was a must-do for us! When staying in Auckland, we suggest booking a hidden gem: The Vineyards, Honey, & Black Sand Beaches of Muriwai Tour from Auckland. These guys are amazing and so knowledgable! You visit Muriwai Beach with its gannets as well as a private wine and honey tasting tour. Plus, it's extremely comfortable, as you get picked up at your hotel in Auckland.
5 Highlights and Must-Know Tips
- The mating rituals are spectacular to observe and occur at the beginning of the nesting season
- The breeding population reaches a peak in November
- In summer, around December to February, you can watch how the chicks get fed
- In March/April, the juveniles leave the nest
- Late autumn and beginning of winter, from May until July, most of the gannets migrate to Australia
The popular Muriwai Beach is patrolled during summer. Swimming between the flags is allowed
The summer is the peak season. From December to March weekends are more crowded due to beach visitors and surfers. There is limited parking! Therefore, visit the colony either early in the morning or late afternoon if you visit on weekends. Mid-week and spring are less busy. It's also usually more crowded on sunny days. On the other hand, there are very few visitors during cold, rough days.
Warmest months are in the summer from December until March often with pleasant temperatures around 20 °C at daytime and 10-12°C in the night. The coldest months are in the winter from June to August, but it's not freezing. Most precipitation occurs in winter but it already starts in May with its peak in July. Driest months are during the summer from November to February/March. The best months for swimming at Muriwai Beach are January until March, but the sea temperature is still lower than 20 °C.
Tip: Be prepared for the windswept coastline and bring a warm jacket. If you are downwind, you experience the penetrating smell of gannet poo.