The everlasting surfing waves of Portugal
- 07 November 2012 | Travel
Portugal offers approximately 943 kilometres (586 miles) of waves. It is considered one of the best countries in the world for surfing, as you'll find a good to great surf spot all along the coast.
Portugal is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, located at the western end of the Iberian Peninsula. The oldest European nation-state offers 300 days of sun per year and a Mediterranean climate with mild temperatures.
There are great waves for surfing along the mainland, as well as in the Azores and Madeira islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean. Surfing is a very popular sport in Portuguese beaches, in all seasons.
Beginners, intermediate and advanced surfers will find waves for their level of surfing, almost anywhere. Northwest is the most common swell direction in the Portuguese coast, so you can catch waves in the multiple beach breaks, point-breaks, jetty breaks and reef breaks on offer.
The Portuguese surfing map is divided in seven regions: Porto and North coast, Central coast, Lisboan and West coast, Alentejo and Algarve, Azores and Madeira.
The Northern coast is often forgotten. Despite having colder waters, there are epic rides to be explored. Near Viana do Castelo, the Cabedelo beach will gather surfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers and bodyboarders in the same day.
Aguçadoura is a virgin dune beach with multiple beach break peaks. If it's too big, drive 15 minutes south and get a jetty protection to enjoy mid-tide perfect waves at Azurara, right after the beautiful town of Vila do Conde.
The only urban beach break in Portugal, with a subway stop right by the sand, is located in Matosinhos, near the historical town of Porto, the country's second most important city. Despite the crowded peaks, there's always room for another surfer, all year round.
In Espinho, prepare to surf perfect, deep right-handers, in front of the casino, when swell is bigger. This wave is not for everyone, just for those who can.
In the Central region, Cortegaça beach offers solid and consistent waves, all year round. In bigger days, you can ride inside and outside waves. During summer, enjoy the Surf at Night festival.
In Praia da Barra, near Aveiro, a jetty and multiple peaks are available for all levels of surfing. Figueira da Foz is a coastal city with several world-class surf spots. Buarcos, Cabedelo and Molhe Norte will display endless tube rides for the most experienced surfers.
On your way to the capital of Portugal, there are three of the most important surf spots in Europe. At the same time, expect more crowded peaks with wave riders from all over the world.
Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, features the biggest waves in the world because of an undersea canyon located just off the coast. The Atlantic Ocean is fully channeled through to the beach creating rogue waves, especially in winter time.
Supertubos, in Peniche, is one of the best barreling waves in the world. A predominately perfect-peeling left-hander that, in epic days, is also a surfboard destroyer. The Portuguese Pipeline is for advanced surfers, only.
Widely sold as the capital of surfing in Europe, Ribeira d'Ilhas, Ericeira, is a pointbreak onto exposed reef break that will get you in the water for hours. It is also Europe's first World Surfing Reserve.
Guincho and Carcavelos are two great surf spots near Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. While Guincho gets strong northern winds, Carcavelos offers tube rides and perfect waves for beginners and relaxed surfers.
Alentejo is one of the most beautiful surfing regions in Portugal. Relaxed and natural environment, great food and uncrowded surf peaks resemble the inhabited parks of Southern California.
Although there are dozens of flawless surf spots along the Vicentina coast, check out four different waves. São Torpes is a jetty break with multiple options, Zambujeira do Mar and its point-breaks, Odeceixe and its exposed shore, and the long and perfect right-handers of Arrifana.
If you're in the Algarve region - the warmest are of the country - stay alert for southern swells and northern winds. Sagres, Zavial and Tavira will pump clean, transparent waves.
The Azores Islands holds some of the best waves in the Atlantic Ocean. All islands offer pristine surfing conditions, but São Miguel has the widest offer. Santa Bárbara, on the north shore, is probably the most famous and consistent, with its dark sands and multiple peaks.
In the Madeira Island, look for Paul do Mar and Jardins do Mar. These world-class waves require tricky access to the line-up, but you'll remember each ridden wave for the rest of your life.