Sun all-year round, friendly locals offering the warmest of welcomes, a world-renowned cuisine served in a dream setting and, not to mention, a never-ending stretch of picture-perfect waves. That’s right, we are talking about Portugal. Check out our pick of the top 10 best waves found in this magnificent country, south-west of the Iberian Peninsula. Stretching along 1800 kilometres of coastline, Portugal is a tourist destination increasingly sought after by surfers from around the globe due to the numerous surf spots hidden in wild coves, beautiful beaches and tailored to all abilities.
The west coast of Portugal is a hub for surf spots, from Porto to Ericeira, or passing by the beaches of Peniche, you can rest assured that you’ll find some A-class waves. In the southern end of the country, especially Lagos which is one of the main cities for extreme sports in Portugal, a myriad of incredible reef breaks set in a breath-taking and “Instagramable” back drop are waiting for you.
In the small fishing village in Praia do Norte is Nazaré, internationally renowned for its gigantic swells, and consequently, monstrous waves. This record-breaking wave with an unsettling height that rises and exceeds over 30 meters, came to fame thanks to the few daring men and women in the world of big wave surfing who are brave and expert enough to ride and wipe-out in this crazy spot. Heed warning, this spot is exclusively reserved for professional and experienced surfers with support teams and years of experience, so please, enjoy the grandeur of this place with your eyes and not with your surfboard. Garrett McNamara, Benjamin Sanchis and Justine Dupont set historic records on this gargantuan wave, located in the Leiria District of the historical province of Estremadura, Nazaré is recognised in photos around the world by its mountainous form rising out of the ocean in front of a lighthouse on the cliff.
The most prestigious spot in Portugal, with perfect conditions all year long and an ideal offshore wind to satisfy all surfing levels. If it’s your first time on a surfboard, Praia do Cero in the bay north of Peniche is the ideal choice; a beach-break on the left or right that allows you to work on your technique whether you are goofy or regular, and always under the watchful eye of your surf instructor. Those with a little more experience may want to descend to the south of Peniche and check out Molhe Leste, a point-break with a hollow right, or Banana Beach which is ideal for a bit of barrel training. The famous spot Supertubos, also fondly called the “European pipeline”, is known for its tubular waves (hence the name) on a beach located within a national ecological reserve and for hosting a world tour event on the WSL circuit each year (Rip Curl Pro).
Surf connoisseurs claim it’s the best wave in Portugal, Coxos is located next to the town of Ericeira and is surf-world famous for its long, fast and tricky right-hander, making it a wave reserved for experienced surfers. The best time to get there is from autumn to winter, but beware because despite what the blazing sun may make you think the water is pretty cold, roughly between 12 °C and 18 °C, so have your booties and warm wetsuit at the ready. There are a couple of other spots near this fishing village, such as Foz do Lizandro, Sao Lourenço or Pedra Branca, which are all a must-surf, and while you’re in Ericeira visit Mafra, known for these local pastries that go down very nicely after a long session in the water.
Praia de Carcavelos
The next spot on our list, attached to the municipality of Cascais, is only a few minutes from the countries capital city Lisbon, the waves of Carcavelos are suitable for amateurs as well as more experienced surfers. It is said that this is where Portuguese surfing was born, in the clear water of an idyllic spot that, furthermore, annually hosts a qualifying round of the World Surf League. However, be warned, this beach is one of the busiest in the region so try to arrive early to avoid tussling for a wave.
Praia do Amado
Another gem of a surf spot found in the Algarve in Portugal is Praia do Amado, and despite its strong currents and occasionally brutal waves, this spot is still accessible to those new to surfing thanks to the easy access to Costa Vicentina where a variety surf schools will be waiting for you. This user-friendly spot offers loads of car parks and a dedicated infrastructure to make Amado beach perfectly equipped to ensure your stay is enjoyable.
Sagres is a town located in the Faro district in the far south-west of Portugal, a place mainly known for its scuba diving but is also home to a fun surf spot catered to all abilities. Fall in love with surfing at Praia do Ingrina which hosts a beautifully long rolling wave ideal for beginners, or, for the more seasoned surfer, Praia do Beliche boasts a left-hander with a bit of kick. Moreover, this area is also popular for the secluded beaches and caves while offering a rare opportunity to see dolphins and whales roaming free in their natural playground.
Paúl do Mar
Located in the south-west of Madeira Island, this small traditional beach-side village of Paúl do Mar (or Ribe das Galinhas), is loved by surfers for its calm and beautiful waves. This spot draws you in with sunny skies and a relaxing atmosphere in a remote location where you can enjoy the rich local cuisine and a traditional Portuguese beverage called Poncha, an alcoholic drink concocted with honey and lemon juice. Put your adventurous side to the test with a lesson in paragliding, diving, SUP or bodyboarding, it is not just about surfing here, there’s and abundance of new activities to discover and enjoy on the island of Madeira.
Situated in the district of Aveiro in the North region and Greater Porto sub-region, Espinho and Esmoriz have become very popular destinations for more seasoned surfers thanks to the endless supply of punchy waves, in fact, young hopefuls got to showcase the potential of this wave in the Projunior surf contest held last month. Espinho is fabled to be one of the most beautiful spots in the whole of the Porto area, and in addition to surfing, there’s plenty to discover on this 17-kilometre beach, whether it be walking to the Douro River estuary or (hopefully) getting lucky in the beach casino.
The small fishing village called Aljezur is a very popular area for surfers and travellers alike, with the long promenade of the Costa Vicentina Nature Park showcasing its cliffs and beautiful coastline, you’ll be hard-pressed to leave this magical place. Arrifana is lucky enough be home to a coast that has remained wild and free, away from tourists and the bustle of the city, it’s ideal for a care-free cruising session in the magnificent waves of the Algarve coast.
Figueira da Foz
The longest wave in the country can be tracked down along the central coast in Buarcos, a famous wave that peels perfectly over 200 meters, providing a dream canvas for any surfer and, equipped with a breath-taking view, Figueira da Foz is known as the best right in Europe by surfing enthusiasts. This beach break cooks up a mix of fast, hollow and tubular waves framed in a picturesque setting; these dream-like conditions are guaranteed to wet the appetite of surf lovers far and wide. If you catch a moment in-between surfs don’t forget to check out Praia do Cabedelo, only 10 minutes away from Figueira da Foz, this place will draw you in with its wild vegetation and calm beaches.
Translated by Charlotte