Catching the Best Waves in Portugal
A land fringed with some 1,800 kilometres of coastline opening onto the wild Atlantic, where winds and currents drive the build-up of waves, is bound to be the perfect destination for surfers. We now reveal the reasons why Portugal exerts such a pull on surfers and pinpoint some of the best beaches for doing this thrilling sport.
Why Surfing in Portugal Rocks
Waves of all sizes and for all tastes. The long Portuguese coastline has ample room for everyone wanting to surf, be they beginners or those who have had loads of waves behind them; that is, under their surfboard.
The good climate. In Portugal, the weather is usually good most of the year around, except in winter, when temperatures go down. The rest of the year is conducive to having a good dip with your surfboard in tow.
The food is fantastic. After a hard day’s riding waves, regaining your strength by downing some great sardinhas asadas (grilled sardines) or savouring an exquisite dish of bacalhau à brás codfish is a delight on the palate.
Affordable prices. In Portugal it is comparatively easy to find quality food and accommodation at more than reasonable prices. What more could you ask for?
The Best Beaches for Catching Waves
Portugal boasts a vast array of surfing beaches, but here are the most outstanding ones:
Apart from being a charming fishing village, Ericeira, situated 30 kilometres north of Lisbon, is one of the favourite destinations for surfers heading for Portugal. It has the distinction of being Europe’s first listed World Surfing Reserve on account of the quality of its waves, the great number of surfing spots and its environment. One of the most prominent spots is the area of Coxos, a small cove with waves of up to 5 metres high, suitable only for daredevils. Another of the noteworthy enclaves is around Ribeira d’Ilhas, ideal for all kinds of surfers and well-known for its beach bars, where people congregate to refuel and socialise. Any time of year is suitable for surfing on these beaches.
Situated in the central area of Portugal’s coastline, Peniche offers what is probably the best set of surfing beaches in the country and draws enthusiasts from all over Europe. One of the best beaches is Supertubos – known among surfers as “Eurotube” – with powerful waves that will meet all surfing aficionados’ expectations. Its reputation has earned it the honour of hosting the world surfing championship once a year. Apart from surfing, its beaches are also ideal for bodyboarding and diving.
Nazaré – Praia do Norte
Like Peniche, it is situated in the central stretch of the country’s seaboard. The American, Garrett McNamara, has the honour of having surfed the biggest wave this year, an amazing 20-metre-high wave on the Praia do Norte. Indeed, herein lies the particularity of this spot on the coastline, where waves can often get to 10 metres, which is therefore a major draw for the big riders. The best time of year for viewing and experiencing this marvel of nature is in winter.
Situated on the Costa Vicentina in the northern Algarve, Arrifana is another of those destinations surfers should be considering. The beach is flanked at both ends by cliffs, accessed by a steep stairway. Apart from being a surfing spot, visitors to this area can also enjoy nature in the magnificent South-west Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. The best time for surfing here is in early spring, as in summer it tends to get overcrowded.
Also located in the Algarve, Sagres has become a veritable surfing hub. It is the ideal spot for signing up for a Surf & Yoga course at the Freeride Surf Camp, where surfing goes hand in hand with meditation, and for going on a boat ride, ideal for enthusiasts of whale- and dolphin-watching.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
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The Five Best Beaches surf Canarias
Good beaches abound throughout the Canary Islands, but Gran Canaria boasts some of the best. The steady winds and the contours of the sea bottom give rise to every sort of wave –tubes, long, giant, deep, and beach breakers.
The geography of the islands ensures land breezes, also known as offshore winds, which make the perfect waves for surfers and windsurfers, partly because the raise wave walls persist longer and often form tubes. Surfers from the worlds around come to the Canaries to experience them and to take part in competitions. For experts the best windsurfing beaches on Gran Canaria are Pozo Izquierdo and Vargas, but others are good, too, such as Ojos de Garza, Tarajalillo, Bahía Feliz, Playa del Águila, San Agustín, Playa del Inglés, Anfi del Mar, and Puerto Rico.
The Magnificent Five
El Confital (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
This marvellous beach, a natural extension of that of Las Canteras, is on the south-western shore of the peninsula of La Isleta on the north side of the island. Bathing takes place along a two-kilometre stretch, which is also the chief surfing zone, famed for the wave known as "Las Monjas" (“the nuns”), and reaches Gáldar and its legendary wave called "El Frontón" (“the wall”). The shore is rocky but it offers a brisk frequency of waves, including the biggest breakers, which can reach a height of five metres.
It is here on the northern coast that we find the mightiest waves for the best conventional surfboarding and also body boarding (with a smaller foam board. In fact the world’s body boarding championships are held in Gáldar. The surfing is simply spectacular on these waves. The powerful “El Frontón” is definitely not for beginners, since it breaks in two different directions, creating two new waves which eventually collide in an explosion of waters which facilitates fancy jumps and acrobatics by surfers. Cosmopolitan surfers compare Gáldar to Indonesian beaches.
On the eastern side of the island, this beach is perfect for surfers when the waves are coming from the east and the winds are calm. The best spots are "Mosca Point" (“fly point”) and to the right of "El Muellito" (“the little pier”). When conditions are propitious, windsurfers flock to these waters, which are famous the world over. Constant and strong winds fill the largest sails and send the boards skipping across the waves, which are always at least a metre high and can rise to three metres.
Playa del Inglés in San Bartolomé de Tirajana
On Gran Canaria’s south-western shore the most celebrated beach is the playa del Inglés, some three kilometres long, with fine white sands and usually calm waters. These conditions, plus a water temperature in the range of 18o - 22o C, makes it ideal for all water sports, including surfing, body boarding, and kite surfing.
Adjacent to the Playa del Inglés is Maspalomas, in the town of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This is where beachgoers concentrate, and surfers tend to gather on the curve linking Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés. The two beaches are used indiscriminately by surfers, swimmers, and tanners, some in costumes and others au naturel. The Faro de Maspalomas lighthouse provides some punctuation to the view of sea, sky, and sand dunes. This extraordinary lighthouse, built in 1871, is 55 metres tall. A 24/7 webcam allows surfers to check out wind and water conditions from anywhere in the world.
Need to catch a wave? Check out our flights today!
Photos: Promotur Turismo Canarias, Patronato de Turismo de Gran Canaria
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