Surfing in Portugal

Coxos on a good day

Until relatively recently few people outside of Portugal realised the huge surf potential of the Portuguese coastline. With around 600 miles of Atlantic coast in mainland Portugal, much of which is sandy beach, it is not really surprising that some of the best surf spots in Europe can be found here.Surfing in Portugal is concentrated into several areas on the with a good few stand out spots in between. Lets start with what is often considered the spiritual home of Portuguese surfing and provides some of the most consistent and powerful waves on the coast, Ericeira.


Located around 45 minutes north of Lisbon, Ericeira is a small (but rapidly expanding) traditional fishing town. The beaches in front and to the north of the town are home to some quality reef breaks and produce a wide range of waves.

Most popular is Ribeira d’Ilhas – a sandy beach set in a valley with a large car park and cafe. Capable of holding big swells and slightly more mellow than most of the waves on this coast Ribeira is a popular first stop. It is mainly a right hander working through the tides.

For those in search of top-to-bottom barrelling, fin-scrapingly shallow right hander reef action just head a hundred metres south to the imaginatively named Reef. The swiss-cheese like rock here is never that far below the surface but this is a high performance wave. One story is that local legend and surf pioneer Nick Uricchio got his fingers broken when they stuck in the rocks on a wipeout.

Keep going in the same direction and you’ll find Pedra Branca – Reef’s less psychotic sibling. Pedra Branca is a shallow short hollow wall of a wave offering open barrels and a the possibility of a move or two.

A couple of miles north of Ericeira is Coxos, a true beast of a wave. At around head high this right hand point break is a fun wave – add a few feet and it becomes a different story. Holding a solid 10ft, this freight train of a wave barrels and spits its way along the point with humbling power.

The locals here are generally fairly tolerant as long as you watch your manners. This goes double for Coxos.


An hour or 2 north of Lisbon is Peniche. The coastline here forms a peninsula that offers breaks facing in almost every direction and working in practically every condition.

The best known surf spot in Peniche is Supertubes (Supertubos). As the name suggests this is a super hollow beach break just to the south of the town. With a southwest swell and an offshore (you can tell it’s offshore by the smell of fish from the local sardine cannery!) this is one of the best surf spots in Portugal.

Other well known spots in the area include Molho Leste, a pokey right hander near the harbour wall, just up from Supertubos, Baleal – a half decent beach break and Lagide, a long, fun left hand reef break.

Between Peniche and Ericeira is Santa Cruz beach which can get really good. The best I’ve surfed it was at high tide when it can get really peaky and hollow.

Figueira da Foz

Heading north from Peniche is Portugal’s big wave spot, Nazare. Part traditional fishing village and part Portuguese bucket and spade seaside town Nazare sits right at the end of a finger of deep Atlantic water. This means big winter swells hit the beach here with full force.Although Nazare is a beach break it holds massive swells and has often been surfed at over 10-12ft

Figueira da Foz is a popular resort town at the mouth of the River Mondego. One of the best spots here is Cabedelo (river mouth) which is a long, walling left hander holding a good sized swell. The main drawbacks are it can get pretty busy and being on a river mouth the water quality isn’t always to great.

At the opposite end of town is Buarcos This is a super long, fast, right hander that reels down a reef at the end of the beach. On its day this is a quality spot and hosted an ASP world surfing tour event back in 2001

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