If all you know about Portugal is linguiça and futbol, you don’t know Portugal. In recent years, this coastal country has become one of the hottest surf destinations in the world. Forget Honolulu and Sydney: when you’re ready to jump on the longboard, it’s all about Lisbon. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in Portugal:
Follow Rudolph’s Red Nose
Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day? Not in Portugal. While other beach cities find summer to be the prime season for big waves, it’s reverse in Portugal. Pro surfers start itching for waves once the temperatures begin to drop and the winds pick up. You’ll find some of the best conditions in fall, winter, and the first blush of spring. Granted you can also expect more rain and colder temps in the northern waters if you’re surfing during Santa season, but it goes with the territory. Remember a thick wetsuit when you’re packing your board and wax. And don’t worry, all the best surfers are out there shivering and shrinking too.
Don’t Listen to the Donald
Location is everything, according to property guru Donald Trump. Clearly, he and his…hair have never been surfing in Lisbon. There are two sides of the surfboard when it comes to the best waves in the country. There are the popular beaches with radical waves big enough to host competitions each year, and then there are the less popular beaches with gnarly waves that the locals enjoy on the down-low. With over 600 km of beach break along the coastline, there are prime surf spots all along the edges of the country.
If you’re looking for the TV-worthy beaches, head to the Ericeira area. This stretch has several tricky jetties, including the Ribeira das Ilhas beach, which is where the World Surfing Championships take place each year. Peniche is another sought-after area, as it’s home to the Subertubos. This beach is famous for its powerful and wide hollows, giving surfers that perfect curl to ride through.
For fewer crowds, just head south. The Sagres area is rocky, but it still provides ample waves. In particular, the Arrifana Costa Vincentina and Praia do Amado Cost Vincentina beaches aren’t very packed and can still deliver potent point break waves. You won’t see the Donald or anyone like him in these parts—just locals indulging in big tides.
Lose Your Kook Card
Remember summer camp with all the sticky fingers, gross frogs, and weird bunkmates? Yeah, surf camps in Portugal aren’t like that. Surf camps along the coast cities are popular for a reason. While you can sign up for simple surf lessons, many of them include BBQs on the beach and a place to stay for the weekend. Mingle with fellow travellers and learn how to do it goofy footed or regular footed like the pros.
Surf camps in Portugal routinely rank as some of the best in the world. For instance, Baleal Surf Camp, which is located on the Cantinho da Baia beach, is known for its long, smooth waves, making it perfect for beginners (also called “kooks”). You can usually choose between 3-14 days of lessons along with optional accommodations. The Peniche Surf Camp is another top-ranked school. Located close to Lagido, the famous reef break on the peninsula, the waves are ideal for intermediate surfers who want to learn new tricks. You can take your pick of lessons and whether you’d like to stay on site. You’ll be saying “dude” and “radical” in no time—albeit in Portuguese.
Don’t be one of those hodads using the lingo and wearing the gear but never stepping a toe in the water. Get out there on the waves! With award-winning surfing areas and tons of classes waiting for you to sign up, there’s no reason to leave Portugal without turning in your kook status.
Have you ever surfed, or are you looking to learn during your trip to Lisbon?