The Algarve: a surfer’s paradise
Surfing has become a very popular sport activity in Portugal in the last couple of years. Every year, people from all over the world come to Portugal for surfing. One of the most famous places for surfing in Portugal is the Algarve. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about surfing in the Algarve.
Algarve surf video
Get excited and feel the waves by watching the short video below.
Surfing in the Algarve
The Algarve isn’t merely about beautiful beaches and a great climate. The region also has excellent surfing conditions. The waves are consistent, every day of the year. The water is warm and clear blue. The atmosphere is laid-back and people are friendly. The combination of action, nature, fitness and adrenaline is the reason why surfing in the Algarve is so addictive to many. The Algarve really is a surfer’s paradise.
Surfing tourism is a niche area of tourism in the region. However, surfing in the Algarve is an activity that is growing in popularity, especially among young people. Every year, more people come to the Algarve for surfing and surf lessons.
The west of the Algarve is situated next to the rugged Atlantic Ocean, which creates good waves 365 days a year. In the Algarve, every day is a possible surf day. This is quite unique. Many other surf destinations in the world cannot guarantee that. According to the Portuguese tourist authority, the Algarve has the best waves in Europe. They are so confident with their claim, that the authority even offers free holidays for surfers who didn’t find waves of more than 50 centimetres on 3 consecutive days, on one of 28 selected beaches.
Where to go surfing in the Algarve
Surfing is possible on various places along the coast, but especially around Sagres and the West coast. Along the South coast, the more you go east, the smaller the waves become. That is why many people stay near the area of Sagres. Here the sea is rough and there are bigger waves. In this region, surfing and nature related activities are the main tourist attractions. The beaches in this area are known as a paradise for surfing and windsurfing. The waves are very consistent, which makes it easy to catch a wave. Some popular beaches for surfing around Sagres are:
- Praia do Martinhal. This is a popular surfing beach.
- Praia do Tonel. This is a beach within walking distance from the town of Sagres. Easy to access. Many restaurants and bars nearby. The waves are consistent.
- Praia do Beliche. This beach near Sagres has large cliffs, which makes it a stunning place to surf.
- Praia do Zavial. Great beach for intermediate surfers.
The West coast (Costa Vicentina), north of Sagres, is a big national park. The West coast of the Algarve is full of wildlife and beautiful sandy beaches. The area is protected, which means that there are no (commercial) buildings. You will be surrounded by beautiful mountains. Conditions here are perfect for surfing, due to the big waves from the Atlantic Ocean. That is why the area attracts many surfers. Some of them come by campervan from far away. There are a lot of surf schools here as well.
Our favourite beaches for surfing on the West coast of the Algarve are:
- Praia do Amado. This beach near the village of Carrapateira is one of the hotspots for surfing in the Algarve. Surfing conditions are excellent, which is why many surf schools travel there daily to enjoy the waves.
- Praia da Arrifana. This is a great beach near Aljezur. Good waves, but the beach can be crowded at times. Many surf schools can be found here.
- Praia da Bordeira. This is a large stretch of beach in the wilderness, near the village of Carrapateira. Conditions are great for surfing.
- Praia de Odeceixe. This beach is near the village of Odeceixe and is famous for its beautiful views.
- Praia da Amoreira. This beach is relatively close to Ajezur, but is not as well known as other surf beaches.
- Praia de Monte Clérigo. This beach near Aljezur is less crowded than other beaches nearby. It is often described as a surfer’s paradise.
- Praia do Castelejo. This is a secluded beach with nice views and conditions that are good for learning how to surf. Go here with an instructor, because there are rocks in the water (that you want to avoid).
- Praia da Cordoama. This is an impressive surf spot, which is surrounded by beautiful cliffs. Waves are quite consistent. However, this beach is relatively more quiet than the more popular surf beaches.
When to go
It depends. Although you can surf all year round in the Algarve, the best time to go surfing depends on your travel plan:
- Are you going to the Algarve for some sun in general and is surfing just one of the many things you will do? Then probably anytime between May and October is best.
- Are you going to the Algarve for a full surf course for several days? Then basically any month will do, but be aware that some surf schools can be closed in January or February. Just check beforehand if the surf school of your choice is open.
- Are you an independent experienced surfer, and are you looking for the biggest waves? Then avoid the summer months.
In general, the waves are bigger in the winter than in the summer. The winter in the Algarve is quite mild and almost feels like spring. The water actually still has a very comfortable temperature in the winter. Some people say that it is too hot for surfing in the summer, while others say that the sea can be especially refreshing on a hot summer day. In any case, make sure you always bring sunscreen, as the sun can hit quite hard, even in the winter.
If you go surfing in the Algarve, you can bring your own surfboard or rent one over there. If you are a beginner and don’t have your own surfboard yet, we recommend this surfboard from Osprey. The surfboard is soft on top and it has three fins and a leash.
Surf lessons are a must if you have never surfed before. Fortunately, there are many different surf schools and hostels available for those who would like to learn to surf. This is a great solution for people who are backpacking in the Algarve and did not bring any surf equipment. With the help of an instructor you will learn to surf faster and also learn how to stay safe in the water. In addition, these surfing schools have deep knowledge of the local area and can show you the best spots for surfing. Most surf school offer classes to both beginners as well as intermediate surfers. While some surf schools are located near the beach, others will take you to specific beaches on the West coast to surf. You can take a class for one day or take a whole surf course for several days.
Some surf schools in the Algarve are:
- Albufeira Surf & Sup (Albufeira)
- Arrifana Surf School (Aljezur)
- Arrifana Surf Lodge (Aljezur)
- Algarve Surf School (Lagos and Sagres)
- Fil Surf School (Lagos)
- Extreme Algarve (Lagos)
- Algarve Watersport (Lagos)
- Raven Surf School (Lagos)
- Odeceixe Surf School (Odeceixe)
- Future Surfing School (Portimão)
- WaveSensations (Sagres)
- Wavy Surf Camp (Sagres)
- Freeride Surf Center (Sagres)
- Fun Ride Surf Camp (Vila do Bispo)
It is also possible to combine your surfing experience with a peaceful retreat and yoga. This is for example offered by Freeride Surf Center.
Campervan surf holidays
Some surfers come to the Algarve by campervan, often from far away. They love to be in nature, sleep in their campervan and of course surf. This is quite an adventure, but a lot of fun.
Surf forecasts (secret tip)
If you would like to know how the surf conditions in a specific area are, download the free Magicseaweed app on your smartphone (available for iOS and Android). This app is a must-have for the serious surfer. The app provides surf forecasts for many places worldwide, including the Algarve. Forecasts include the surf height, swell height, swell period and direction, wind speed and direction and the water temperature. For a quick preview, check out the surf forecast for Sagres:
Did you know? (current world record)
Extreme surfers who prefer bigger waves, go to Nazaré (about 130 kilometres above Lisbon). In 2017, the Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa set a new world record, by riding the biggest wave (24.38 metres high) that was ever surfed in history. He broke the previous world record of Garrett McNamara , who rode a wave of 23.77 metres in 2013. Both of these events happened in Nazaré.