Algarve lures surfers with a guarantee not many places in the world can offer: year-round surfing waves! Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean on both the west and south coast, the Algarve is a magnet for surfers looking for the perfect swells. Europe’s top surfing destination, the region can easily compete with surf destinations like Hawaii and Australia and keep its head high in any ranking. Surfing the Algarve means riding glorious waves while enjoying excellent weather, superb beaches, and beautiful views.
Surfing on the west coast
Passionate and experienced surfers meet on the west coast of the Algarve, where they can enjoy the flamboyant northwesterly swells. While the summer comes with acceptable waves, the ambitious winter enchants wave riders with waves that easily reach 15 feet. And since you’re in Portugal, the sun keeps shining, and the water temperature continues to be comfortable even during the winter months. The best part is that most surfing bays on the western coast are remote and create an idyllic setting for serene surfing experiences:
Alzejur – the gateway to superb surf spots, the little town of Alzejur has recently become an international surfer’s hub. Among the most beloved breaks, you’ll discover Arrifana that awaits with scenic views and plenty of surf schools for everyone to practice their skills. The northernmost end of the bay is the meeting point for local surfers eager to enjoy the hollow sections moving fast from left to right and the fun northwestern waves.
Carrapateira – spectacular lefts define the beach of Carrapateira, blessed by Mother Nature with an abundance of breaks that often show off their peaky and hollow side. The place is surreal even for non-surfers and has something for wave riders of all levels of experience. There are plenty of waves to share, sometimes bigger and bolder than in Arrifana, and many are happy to accept the challenge.
Beliche – guarded by dramatic cliffs, Beliche welcomes surfers with elegant waves and dazzles with chubby triangles. And this is not all. Beliche is known for its hollow sections and decent walls ready to up the stakes and pump some extra adrenaline into the veins. If the break feels generous and in a good mood, there are days when beginners can have the time of their life enjoying soft beach breaks.
Sagres – we left the best for last as Sagres is a Mecca for surfers from every corner of the world. Home to numerous beaches and breaks, the town is vibrant and wrapped in fun surf culture. Outstanding waves delight surfers on the beach of Tonel creating breathtaking sights and memorable surf experiences. Beginners looking to test the water will always find a calmer ambiance on Praia do Martinhal, where the waves are gentler, even when the rest of the west coast is wreaking delicious havoc.
Surfing on the south coast
The south coast may not have the same consistency as the west, but this doesn’t mean it can’t show off with quality breaks and nice waves. Visit the south Algarve in the winter, when the Atlantic is in the mood for games, and you can encounter exciting waves and sheltered bays. Furthermore, the south will always have what the west doesn’t: warmer water and finer weather.
Zavial – the beach has earned a reputation as the next best thing when you can’t reach the breaks on the west coast or they seem too scary and furious for you. If the stars align and the sandbanks are good, you’ll have fun playing with fast waves on the bold side. While beginners are absolutely fine with the left side, veterans prefer the adventures waiting for them on the right. The locals love Zavial’s point break, where the waves may look discouraging if you catch them breaking off cliffs but prove to be tamable once you put your mind to it.
Porto de Mos – situated south of Lagos, the other famous surf town in the Algarve, the beach has rock reef breaks at both ends. However, since the right-hand side can get trickier, many recommend staying on the left and closer to the shore. The bottom consists of a flat rock reef, and it may have some sea urchins waiting to ruin a surfer’s day, so keep an eye for them.
Meia Praia – situated on the longest beach in the Algarve, the break works best when the Levant (easterly) decides to visit. When the conditions are just right, the beach provides enough swell and a pretty right-hander that breaks off the wall at the low-mid tide. The beach break is fast and entertaining, and peaky waves are daring enough to come up the beach.
Albufeira – who can ever forget Albufeira, the picturesque yet busy resort town that has enchanted an entire world with its velvety beaches and statuesque cliffs. While the town is famous for its nightlife and extravaganza of resorts, the surrounding breaks turn into a playground for beginners who love a sandy bottom and friendly waves. Praia Falesia is the perfect destination for surfers who are just getting the hang of this great sport, especially when the waves come from the southwest.