Mareta is a large south-facing beach in the small town of Sagres with plenty of space to practice. Semi-consistent in winter and mostly flat during summer when you’ll have to head to Tonel or check out the west coast. In big W-NW winter swells the south coast will be your bet with waves literally everywhere from Faro to Sagres. If Lagos is too small then head further west to the beach of Luz to find a wave. But beware of the scattered rocks as you get closer to the east end of the bay. On small days or during summer go to Bordeira or Arrifana on the west coast, both spacious beaches that will pick up any swell.
The area around Portugal’s capital has both a south and a west facing coastline which is pretty rare and can else only be found in the Algarve. If you want to learn surfing then your best bet will be the two most popular beaches of Carcavelos and Costa da Caparica.
Just a little North of Lisbon, the small fishing town of Ericeira in 2011 became the second surfing reserve in the world and remains the only one in Europe to the present day. For the beginner surfer the go-to-spot is Ribeira D’ilhas just a bit north outside of town. It’s a large and consistent beach break with a surf school and plenty of parking spaces. As you drive into town you’ll find a beach just north of the harbour, Praia do Norte with waves through all tides and a bit further south Praia do Sul which provides for lots of space to catch a wave. Leaving Ericeira and driving a bit further south to where the river Lizandro meets the Atlantic you’ll discover Praia da Foz do Lizandro – a lush beach with surf camps, schools and rentals nearby.
Perhaps the most famous area for surfing in Portugal with the World Championships being held in the roaring barrels of Supertubos. For beginners the spacious beaches of Baleal and Lagide with their gentle waves are ideal.
As you are heading north from Peniche you will pass by Nazaré where in winter time you can be eye in eye with the largest waves in the world. Obviously not the place to practice your pop-up but definitely worth a visit. If you are in the city of Porto and want to learn surfing, go to Matosinhos. This beach usually has small waves and the scenery with large cargo ships entering and leaving one of Europe’s biggest harbors is definitely something special.
In Luz you find a nice righthander breaking over the reef at the east end of the bay and into a deeper channel. If Tonel in Sagres is closing out then Zavial can be a good choice. It’s a bit smaller but still always bigger than Mareta and with the right conditions can deliver excellent, long rights peeling off the point. Tonel itself has shifting peaks with the left closer to the fortress usually being the most popular wave. Head for the big rock in the middle of the bay and use the rips around it to get to the line-up. Beliche is meant to have the best quality waves in the south. The left is hollow, fast and heavily localized with competitive bodyboarders. So if you want to surf it you should get up early. From the peak in the middle of the bay there breaks a left and right with the right ending up in a fun bowly section. Be ready to get barreled!
Carcavelos in strong NW swells gets glistening barrels that predominantly break to the left. Heading west from Lisbon for about 30 minutes you will find Guincho, the largest beach in the area. It has a big swell window due to its exposure and works best in light easterly winds.
An amazing righthand point break waits north of town close to Ribamar and delivers up to double-overhead waves, barrels and long rides. The reef is very sharp and the main take-off zone small so there isn’t always a free spot. As with every point break you can always sit a bit further inside and snatch a great wave. Best from low to mid-tide and unforgiving on big days.
Supertubos is obviously a super-hollow, fast wave and on top of that breaks only about 20 metres from shore. It works from mid to high-tide, is offshore in NE winds and can get pretty busy with competitive chargers. At the north end of the bay there is Molho Leste, also hollow and usually a bit smaller than Supers. The south end of the bay is confined by the headland of Consolacao with waves breaking either side of it. The right south of the headland is more consistent and can get seriously big. Entry and exit can be tricky as you have to time your jump from the reef right and urchins are waiting to pinch your feet. Low-tide only.
Close to Figueira da Foz is Buarcos, a rocky point break and arguably the longest right in Europe. It needs NE winds and can handle bigger swells that go along with strong currents. Driving south from Porto for half an hour will get you to Espinho, where waves up to 3 metres break off a jetty.
1 = Not to good
2 = Ok
3 = Good
4= Very good
5 = Very, very good
In a bar
In a café
In a surfshop.