I’ve tried my hand at surfing in a few locations around the world. Latin America has some incredible beaches with world-class breaks, and my first ever surf lesson took place in Dominical, Costa Rica. I later took to the waves in Montanita, Ecuador, and – on a return visit to Central America, on a popular surf beach near San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua.
Living in Australia for a year, I had a few more lessons in the popular surf spot Coffs Harbour, but to this day I haven’t been fortunate enough to hop on a board in Europe.
This week, I teamed up with Yescapa – a platform that provides peer-to-peer motorhome hire across Europe – to find out more about the best surf spots in Portugal.
WHY USE A MOTORHOME?
Surfing is a sport that depends heavily on mother nature. The quest to find the ideal wave requires patience, the perfect weather conditions and the flexibility to move onto new spots quickly when all of the indicators are green.
If you’re staying at a hotel or fixed accommodation, you still need to travel to the beach, and there’s the added hassle of having to transport all of your equipment. With a motorhome, you can sleep right beside the action and be ready to move quickly to wherever the best swells appear.
With the aim of discovering some of the best surf spots in Portugal, two surfers – Lee-Ann Curren (former European champion) and Margaux-Aramon Tucoo, along with skaters Sam Partaix and Victor Pellegrin, hired a motorhome from Yescapa and took to the road.
They documented their trip in a video called ‘Radio Camping’.
BEST SURF SPOTS IN PORTUGAL
The Radio Camping road trip took the group through outstanding scenery to some fantastic swells, with the opportunity to visit a few cultural landmarks along the way. Let’s take a closer look.
PENICHE AND NAZARÉ
Nazaré and Peniche are two of the best surf spots in Portugal. Nazaré is a traditional fishing village in Portugal with an amazing atmosphere. It’s well known for sheltering the biggest waves ever surfed in Praia Do Norte (78 ft/23.8m) and makes a great pilgrimage for surfers. Nearby Praia da Vila has a beach break for skilled surfers only, as the waves are fast and dangerous. A lot of restaurants can be found in the area making it popular with tourists.
The beaches at Peniche have a wild aspect, and their world-class powerful waves are a delight to surfers all year round. Between sessions, you can enjoy a visit to the Berlengas Islands, which are a short ferry ride from the main town. This natural reserve shelters dozens of seabird species and is perfect for a relaxing break.
It’s possible to find medium-sized waves that are not too aggressive if you want to play it safe, but the show climax is to surf Supertubos, a barrel beach-break that’s reminiscent of the Pipeline in Hawaii. Peniche has long been an ASP world tour destination and highly deserves it.
If you feel like stretching your legs, it’s possible to hike an 8 km circuit of the headland, finishing at a lighthouse with delightful views of the surroundings. While you’re there, you should take the opportunity to sample delicious petiscos (local appetizers). They go well with the local beer, which is tasty and really cheap (sometimes as low as €0.80!)
The next stop for the Radio Camping team was the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. This city has so much to offer, including iconic monuments, interesting museums and culinary delights. São Jorge’s Castle is one particular highlight. You can climb the small streets of the old town to reach Alfama, the city’s most authentic neighbourhood, before experiencing the nightlife of Bairro Alto (a district overlooking Lisbon). Some of the best surf spots are just 10 minutes from the city.
To learn more about the region’s cultural background, you can pay a visit to Oeiras, where 18th century houses and palaces are set amidst stunning scenery. The beach that is featured in the video is called Praia da Torre, and this is located right next door to another great surfing spot, Carcavelos.
Post-surf, you can take an enjoyable 20-minute walk that links the Praia da Torre with the beach of Santo Amaro, passing an ocean swimming pool and a small Santo Amaro fort before curving around to the golden sands of Santo Amaro.
These beaches are extremely popular so it can be challenging to surf there during the summer months. Arrive early if you want to find a decent spot. A lot of established surf schools are present in the city and offer great opportunities to learn.
There are plenty of affordable bars and restaurants in the area, as well as handy facilities like shower blocks. If you feel like trying out a different sport, you can take to a local volleyball or basketball court.
The team made their final stop in the Algarve. This region has been a surfer’s favourite for some time. The waves might not be as impressive as they are in Peniche or Nazaré, but the tranquility and wilderness of the area is beyond comparison.
The south-east wind provides some great offshore breaks, and owing to its southerly location, the water temperature in the Algarve lends itself to surfing all year round. June to September are the hottest months.
Amado and Cordoama are suitable for all levels of surfer, while Castelejo, Ponta Ruiva or Zavial require experience. In the Algarve, there’s not much distance between the west and the south coast, so if you have a motorhome, you can follow the best swells depending on the wind.
There are so many beaches in this region, you won’t have any trouble finding uncrowded stretches of sand to make the most of your peaceful break.