Picking up all the northerly, western and southern swells from the Atlantic, surf in Portugal is not only impressively tall, but also incredibly consistent. Surfers come from all over the world to ride waves that are only a short drive away from Lisbon, and remain refreshingly chilled when temperatures take a hike. Here, we look at some of the best set-ups, from the uncrowded beaches of Caparica to Peniche (which is famous for hosting one of the ASP World Tours), so you know which part of the coast to head to when the surf’s up, and you want to chase that perfect barrel.
Just north of Lisbon, Praia das Maças boasts waves just as good as its famous neighbour Praia Grande, but doesn’t suffer from the same overcrowding. Just don’t get too carried away, as rocky ends sandwich an otherwise perfect slice of surf.
Bafureira has some of the best rides on the Estoril coast, and all the attention to show for it. With the surf break so predictable, it’s a great place for beginners to start, too. There’s only one small price for all the perfection, however, and that’s the fact that some of the rocks make it a place that should only be surfed at medium to high tide.
Not as predictable as some of the other spots mentioned, but when Carcavelos is having a good day, there are few places Lisbon surfers would rather be. With cylindrical left-rolls, shallow sandbars and crests that average six feet, visitors and locals can all be found plunging into barrels near the cliff edge’s romantic fort, Sao Juliao da Barra.
Although located a bit further from Lisbon, we can’t speak about surf and not mention Praia do Norte in Nazaré, the official record holder of the largest wave ever surfed. The local underwater canyon, along with a happy combination of local winds and currents resulted in one of the most perfect A-frame big waves the world has ever seen. The danger factor is an adrenaline bonus.
Breaking from both left and right, and great in all sorts of tides, Guincho is the gift that keeps on giving. That said, it’s more a treasure for beginners to admire than the real pros, as lots of starters (sometimes known as “grommets” or “kooks”) can be found trying out their moves, failing to honour the line-up, and cutting up the paths of others in the process.
Offering both north and south-facing coastlines, Peniche possesses more than 20 surf spots for surfers of all levels. It’s mostly famous, however, for hosting world-class surf competitions, which bring the likes of Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Gabriel Medina to its shores, singing the praises of what everybody calls “the European Pipeline”.
Offering over 20 miles of coastline, Costa da Caparica’s strengths lie in its diverse beaches and consistent surf. Those who prefer uncrowded places and occasional swell should head for the south, whilst those chasing big winds and perfect peaks should opt for one of its northern beaches, which offer first-rate tubes.
A fisherman’s village north of Lisbon, Ericeira is one of the most popular destinations for off-season surf. Famous for being the home beach of Tiago Pires, the first Portuguese surfer to become a celebrity, as well as being the first surfing reserve in Europe, the key to Ericeira’s reputation is the diversity of its coastline, which offers at least five characterful beaches with craggy bays and smudgy sunsets.
This point break provides a great wave to surf and with the right conditions it can be a wonderful experience. There are South Western swells as well as occasionally North Western swells to enjoying. Perfect for all levels, and it works best on the rising tide.
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