Surfing Portugal — Photo courtesy of Bengt E Nyman
When most surf rats think of big swells, they probably imagine Hawaii, California or maybe Australia. But for one of surfing’s best kept secrets, why not head to Portugal? A more-than-1000-mile coastline ensures plenty of hidden beaches, with some of the world’s most monster waves and breaks hammering in off the Atlantic, especially come winter.
From November to February, huge swells roll in. Especially in Praia do Norte, Nazaré, where extreme surfer Garrett McNamara recently broke the world’s largest wave ride record, riding a 90 foot monster swell created by a deep water canyon.
The north of the country along the Costa Verde (green coast) sees the biggest waves and yet, at the same time, less crowded beaches, but you probably need to have some pretty toned surf legs to even think about coming up here and riding with the big boys. However, there are plenty of surf camps and schools here to help learn the swells, and if you come in summer, the water will be calmer.
The beach of Ericeira was named the best place in Europe to surf, and is home to the Association of Surfing Professionals' Quicksilver Pro tourney, where stars like Tiago Pires, Portugal’s top surfer, compete against other professionals for big prize money.
Further south, the Algarve is Portugal’s most famed beach and resort area, but there are still plenty of hidden coves and breaks here worthy of a surfing holiday, not to mention the waves being more suitable for novices. The area between Lagos and Raposeira is known for its laid back party atmosphere and mellow surfer vibe, with Lagos being one of the country’s best young party spots.
And if you don’t want to to spend all your time on a surfboard, well, there are other forms of surf sports available. Guincho Beach, not so far from Lisbon, features both kitesurfing and windsurfing, as plenty of big gusts blow in from the ocean year-round. One thing is for sure, you certainly won’t be bored on a surf holiday in Portugal!