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What I Learned Surfing in Portugal (Surf Guide)

Updated: Jun 18

This summer, my family and I embarked on a surf trip to Portugal, but little did we know what we were fully getting ourselves into.


When we arrived at our first destination, it was like nothing we had ever experienced.


Coastline stretched all around us and the salty air swirled around. The towns around were slow, but welcoming.




All the buildings seemed to have been there forever and all in their own perfect place.


It was a perfect mix of a new unfamiliar culture with the comforting scenery of a coastline.


In this article we will look at a few places where I stayed during my trip, and others that I did not, and what makes the surf there so special.


What’s So Special About Surfing in Portugal?

Waves in Portugal

While in Portugal, I experienced all types of breaks.


From reef, to point, to beach, they have it all.


The winter time is most well known for bringing large swells to Portugal, but you can still find some smaller, clean waves at all times throughout the year.


The Surf Culture in Portugal

The surf culture in Portugal was some of the best I have ever experienced.


While surfing in an unfamiliar place, it may be a little nerve racking, but I was quickly eased by the welcoming locals and the beautiful scenery around.


Equipment Needed to Surf in Portugal

Portugal is home to relatively cold water all year round.


For the majority of the year, expect to be wearing a 3/2 or 4/3 and add on a hood, booties, and gloves during the colder months of December through March.


However, you may see a few locals braving the cold during the summer months in just boardies or a springsuit.


Regardless of season, ensure you wear sunscreen too!


The 5 Best Surf Spots in Portugal

Sagres

The town of Sagres was our first stop on our trip.


This town often is overlooked when it comes to surfing, simply because of how small the area is, but it certainly is worth a mention.


During our stay here, we visited two beaches, Beliche and Mareta.


We weren’t expecting much as we walked down the stairs of Beliche, but were quickly taken back. Coming off the rocks was a barreling wedge that shot left.


This wave works best under a directly southern swell, and tends to get pretty busy when it starts working.


While this is more of an experienced wave, we also visited Mareta which is more than suitable for beginners.


This beach break works best during the winter season and a south swell, however, throughout the rest of the year it can still be good for beginners and longboarders.


As we paddled out here, we were met with a few people learning how to surf in the lineup, so the crowd around here is pretty open to new faces.


Peniche

This city is one that can’t be missed, next up is Peniche.


With more than 10 different breaks to choose from, you are guaranteed to find a wave that works perfectly for you.


Two notable breaks here are Gigi and Supertubos.


Gigi is a surf haven for all longboarders. During a rising tide and southeast wind, this break creates pumping left and rights that run all across the beach. Not only can you find these conditions at various seasons throughout the year, but it is also pretty rare to see large crowds battling for waves in the lineup.


In contrast, is the iconic Supertubos. This wave is said to be a mini Pipeline, suited for experienced surfers and susceptible to gnarly closeouts when conditions aren’t great. You will find one of a kind waves here during the winter and southern swells.


Nazare




Even though most of us won’t get to score in this town, you don’t want to miss out on the chance of watching these inexplicable waves.




Known for some of the biggest and most deadly waves, the town of Nazare is a sight to see.


Unfortunately, if you come here during summer like I did, you may see a whole lot of nothing.


Waves like Praia de Norte, the biggest wave in Europe, only turn on during the months of October through April.





Still, if you find yourself visiting during the summer, visit this iconic lighthouse museum where you can see some of the most historical waves and boards ridden here by the best big wave surfers in the world.


Cascais

Although Cascais may be one of the busier surf towns in Portugal, it has incredible surf which is worth all the hype.


Stretching from Lisbon to the Sintra Mountains, are 6 main breaks along the coast that locals tend to surf.


Two of the most popular being Carcavelos and Praia de Guincho. Carcavelos is a left point break that works best from October to March.


Since this wave is often pretty consistent and has some of the best waves the town has to offer, the crowds and localization are on the heavier side.


So, if you aren’t up for a paddle battle, head over to Praia de Guincho which is known to be firing during a south swell.


This wave is best for intermediate and experienced surfers during this time, however, it can provide a few slow rollers for longboarders and beginners during the summertime.


Ericeira

A surf guide to Portugal would be nowhere near complete without including Ericeira.


This classic surf town has a variety of different waves all year that can be surfed by both experienced and beginner surfers.


We would need a whole different surf guide to describe every break here, but two spots I visited during my time here which are worth noting are Sao Juliao and Ribeira D’Ilhas.


Sao Juliao is located on the south side of Ericeira and is a classic beach break.


During the summertime when all other spots seem to be dead, we took a trip to Sao Juliao where we still found great surfable waves. On the northern side of town is Ribeira D’Ilhas.


If you’ve never heard of this break, you’ve probably watched a surf competition being done here.


This break is extremely reliable at producing clean rights over the reef below.


It was no different when my family and I visited.


Ribeira D’Ilhas was one of the most fun waves I had ever surfed, and even in the summer.


If you too want to experience this wave, there is a great rental shop right in front of this wave where you can get your own gear!


What To Do In Portugal When the Waves Are Flat

Portugal is filled with beauty and history.




When we weren’t out surfing, we were exploring the beautiful streets and architecture that the country had to offer. It is also hard to experience Portugal without seeing its nightlife.


When the sun goes down, the people come out.


Whether it is a town celebration or just another Tuesday night, the streets of Portugal fill with people ready to have a good time.


Portugal Surf Guide

Portugal is a country rich in surf culture and one that cannot be missed on your next surf trip.


Beyond this, it has some of the most beautiful and historical cities that Europe has to offer.


So, if there is one place that you have to add to your bucket list, it has to be Portugal!


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