110 clicks down the highway and we were off. Cruising in Cassie like we always do, head out the window getting some maori air con and everything looking good. Just left the Spanish coast and headed for Porto. The second largest city of Portugal and ready for some Portuguese waves. Check out Leahs blog on Porto, it’s a must if your passing through.
The variety of waves throughout Spain was epic and hoping to see more down through Portugal. Not knowing much about the place, we stalked instagrams, searched google and asked people along the way. If your into your surfing or just love the beach then follow Cassie, Leah and I as we chase the waves down the Portuguese coast. Heres our top 10 favourite spots along the way.
Number one, Nazare – On our hike south, headed for Supertubos, Leah, whilst looking at the map says ‘isnt Nazare a surf spot’ and instantly my eyes lit up like a fluorescent lightbulb. Having only seen videos of the legends who surf this crazy spot, the 20 minute detour was well worth it. We cruised into the town, down the dusty trail to find, at the bottom of the hill and on the point, is the building Forte de Sao Miguel Arcanjo. Straight away Leah pipes up and says ‘ive seen this view before’ and she wasnt joking. My youtube feed is usually congested with surfing videos including this exact spot. If you havent already cottened on, its the place where all the nutty surfers from around the world congregate a few times a year to surf some of the biggest waves known to man. To put it in perspective, surfing your standard wave on the gold coast is like driving a mini conservatively around town. Surfing Nazare is like driving 4 supercharged jacked up hummers, strapped together over the bumpiest road in the desert…ok you get the picture. This spot really opened my eyes to a whole new world of surfing, although not a big day for Nazare, you could feel a sense of spookieness around the place, the wind almost throwing us off the viewing platform. The iconic lighthouse sits on top of the old brick building, which for 1Euro, gets you entry to some epic views and some memorabilia which will have any surfer frothing at the bit. A mad respect for the crazy people who even attempt this colossal wave let alone conquer it.
Number two, Supertubos – Afternoon sun beaming down as we arrive in Peniche the home of the famous Supertubos beach. Every year the Rip curl pro, Portugal is held here. I suited up, Leah camera in hand and we were off down the beach to find some Portuguese pitts. Yeww, it was firing. I did the usual pre surf stretch and headed for the water. A short paddle and I was in the lineup, 3/4 ft beachy, which literally sucks up into an epic tube, hence the name. Frothing for some action, I quickly caught a few waves. Time and time again getting hammered by the intense conditions, but always getting back out there for another, soon enough I picked the right wave, got deep and popped out the other side. Such a surreal feeling, it was hard to leave such epic waves. This place has been my favourite by far along this trip and I highly recommend it. Stay for a night or a whole week and it wont let you down. We found a sweet free camping spot on Baleal beach with a bunch of other like-minded people, bars around us pumping, the mood was on point.
Number three, Ribeira de Ihas – On our way south to Lisbon, Leah doing the usual Instagram stalk, we found this epic spot. Very popular place for tourists, we parked up the van, board in hand and hit the beach. A right hand point break in its finest hour, this beach has an epic set up to hold some solid waves. I paddled out to the right of the beach around the rocks to avoid ending up at the neighbouring beach. The waves were super fun and the point style lineup meant waves all the way down the beach. People out enjoying the waves and the sun, I spent the afternoon surfing and Leah soaking up the summer rays. Dam, looking back now Leah’s doing a fine job of looking sexy on the beach. Theres a mint restaurant right there too, perfect for that post surf feed, or if your cheap like us, coffee to keep those eyes peeled for the drive ahead. We didn’t stay here but there’s a good spot close behind the parking lot by the road for campervans.
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Number four, Lisbon/Cascais – We made it to Lisbon, no plans to surf here but party instead. We met up with Liv and Tessa, friends from Auckland who were staying at The G spot hostel. Hit it up if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Lisbon. Epic hostel, Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians, Germans and people from all over, the vibe was sweet and even though we weren’t staying here, we befriended everyone who was. We got on board the Lisbon pub crawl which starts at the hostel and for 13Euros you get your moneys worth back in drinks. An epic night with cool people and better yet your somewhere in Portugal. If you’re looking to surf, hit up Cascais beach, the QS surf comp was on here including the Kiwis Ricardo Christie and Billy Stairmand. Timing was off and we wouldn’t catch their heats so we put our foot to the floor once again and headed south in our home on wheels.
Number five, Sines to Porto Covo – This stretch of coast reminded me of the last part of Spain where we stopped for the night. We camped up literally on the on the hill overlooking the beach where the waves were mellow and fun. This whole stretch from Sines going south is perfect for this. Pick a spot to stop, cook up a feed and enjoy the waves. Better yet, the sun set here is better then any we’ve seen. Take in the views and fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing outside. You just can’t beat it. We made friends with some hippy Swiss guy who kept us company for a while, interesting fellow he was. Waking up for a dawny surf, some yoga on the beach taught by Leah herself and life was looking pretty damn fine.
Number six, Cavaleiro – This spot was for us was mainly about seeing something a bit different. To be honest with you, looking at maps on your iPhone proves harder to find beaches than you would think. Just look at the coast right? Well somehow we came to this part of the coast which, don’t get me wrong, is definitely surfable, but the amount of cliff faces and hidden rocks makes it hard. None the less, we cruised down what we thought would be the “coast road”. Turns out it’s just a dirty track which runs about 5 km along the top of the cliffs. No one around and Leah in the driver’s seat we moved along at snail’s pace trying to stop everything in the back from flying around all over the place. We stopped along the way and took in the epic views. Amazing spot. On the way back to the highway we somehow ended up on some guys farm, Leah thinking the worst, she was sure he had his shotgun ready to fire. She kept asking, “were sweet aye?” but how was I supposed to know, I wasnt friends with him. Not exactly sure where the hell we had gotten ourselves to, we managed to escape Farmer Jose and his shotgun and make it back to civilisation.
Number seven, Odeceixe – Not exactly sure how to pronounce this place, we just called it the spot with the river. Yep, there’s a river running about 3km from the town to the beach. It reminds us both of Pauanui back home. We cruised down the north side of the river as we heard this is a nice spot to free camp. Whoever told us that was not wrong. Parked right on the riverside, we set up camp and headed toward the beach. Being on the north side of the river and being high tide, meant we had to pull up our shorts and wade the 50m to the beach side. Luckily I had my board to float the backpack across on, its one way to save an expensive camera. After a surf, to Leah’s surprise, I parked up next to her on the beach and got stuck into a novel about a man called Jack Reacher. The next morning, another short dash through the river and the surf was on. 2-3 ft and the beachy was working. Such a chilled spot there was never more than five other surfs spread across the break. If your into hiring a board there’s a little shack on the beach dishing them out. One thing you have to try if your ever in this town is a “Totas Mista”. A huge cheese, ham and tomato toasted sandwich for 3Euro. Nothing beats a feed like this after a solid surf session.
Number eight, Praia de Amado – Yet another dusty trail to get here, although I think we took a wrong turn. This time Jose wasnt waiting with his shotgun so we cruised along and as we approached what looked like a car park, we could see a bunch of campers all parked up. Our eyes lit up as we turned to the right and could see Amado beach running down to the south. A decent sized beach, this spot was going to be one of the best for sure. We parked up alongside other vanlifers like us, right up on the cliff overlooking the beach. Board in hand and superhero suit on (wetsuit), we headed for the beach for an avo paddle. A solid 3-4 ft and it was pumping. So many different spots to surf along here, we parked up on the beach and I got in the water. This place is a must, left and rights for days, heaps of people but it didn’t feel crowded and so warm it felt like the peak of summer…its late September. As I come out of the water, I see Leah from a distance, next to her is a board standing up vertically. It’s a long foam board. Shes already got her superhero suit on and ready to go. Without hesitation she comes zooming into the water, ready to show these learners how to do it. First time surfing in Europe and first time surfing since February, it all came back pretty quickly. We had heaps of fun for the rest of the afternoon and she caught more and more waves, mainly in the big whitewash waves but hey…gotta start somewhere. If you’re wanting to give it a go, this is the beach to do it. Along with many of the ones I’ve talked about, there always seems to be surf schools along the way offering lessons or hiring boards and this beach had three to choose from. Not badly priced either. As the sun fell behind the horizon, another epic sunset filled our eyes, stars bright in the sky. I’m beginning to get used to this, it doesn’t get much better.
Number nine, Vila do Bpo – Put the name for this place in your map and it will stump you why it’s inland and in the middle of nowhere. Well, having used the last tiny bit of wax at Amado, I was due some more stick for my stick so we pulled into a surf shop in this random town. As were flicking through the board rack, as you do, right there, somewhere in Portugal was the Kiwi silver fern. Somehow this shaper had manged to get his boards to Portugal and this random little shop, had the rights to sell them. This got us both excited, the whole shop was filled with all sorts of this kiwi brand. Damn cool to see. On a budget, buying a new board was waaaay out of the question so I settled for some new, carbon fins, all the way from NZ. Yeeew!!
Number ten, Sagres – our last stop on the western coast and evidently my last surf. With the swell looking pretty weak for the Algarve coast, we hit Praia do Tonel beach in Sagres, hoping for one last hoorah before heading south. Just my luck the waves were small and a bit on the messy side but you take what you can get. I got out there and found a little wave peeling off the rocks on the right. No one around, I soaked it up knowing its all I would get for a while. Surfing the wave literally right onto the beach was the best part, a little bit of adrenaline to finish the day off nicely. It’s also the most southern point of Portugal which is pretty cool. It gets some solid swell here so check before you come, or if you don’t really mind like we did, just show up and like Jack Reacher would say, hope for the best.
All I can say is what an epic part of our journey this has been. The west coast of Portugal has really surprised us, shaping our opinion in such a way we never wanted to leave. The places, people and of course the surf have all been on point. To think back, we were tossing up whether to even dip into Portugal and we’re damn glad we did. As I hang up my board, we leave the surf and head for Lagos. Next, The Algarve coast.
We love to hear feedback and questions about travelling, so if you have any or want to say Kia Ora, hit us up on the contact page, we wont bite and I hope this has you frothing for some Portuguese peelers like it has me.
Bryn free & addicted
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