A beginners guide to surfing in Portugal…

*This post contains sponsored links.  All words and opinions are as always my own.


Portugal is famous for surfing, it has some of the best beach breaks in the world and holds top surfing competitions on its shoreline every year.  The gigantic swell at Nazaré attracts pro surfers from around the globe on an annual basis.  If you are a beginner don’t let the images of these monster waves put you off.  Portugal is home to some great beaches with perfect beginner waves.  The Algarve is a good spot to learn to surf, found on the south coast of Portugal the waves are often smaller than on the west coast.  The summer months are the best for beginners with smaller waves and sunny skies.  The flight time from the UK to Faro is 2 hours and 40 minutes.  Once in Portugal it’s a 60 minute drive to the Algarve area.
Here’s a run down on where to stay, the best beaches for beginners and what to pack for your surf adventure….
Where to stay
Praia Da Luz is a gorgeous area, the buzzing town is full of funky bars, quirky coffee shops and a sandy beach just right for sunbathing.  Luz is nearby to all the best beginner beaches too, so you’ll never be far from  the action.  Clickstay have some fantastic holiday rental properties in the Algarve area.  No 3 Ocean View is as dreamy as it sounds.  This beach villa sleeps six, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  It has a terrace overlooking the sparkling ocean and a shared pool.  The beach is 5 minutes away and the centre of Luz only a 200 metre stroll.  It is the perfect place to stay with friends on a surf trip.
Choose Praia Da Rocha for a lively night out and miles of glorious sand, this gorgeous apartment is minutes from the beach and local bars.  Being able to check the surf from your balcony is a huge bonus.  It sleeps six, has a fully equipped kitchen and comes with secure private parking.
Boa Vista Apartment in Albufeira is bright and airy on the inside and typically Portuguese in style on the outside.  It is close to the cobbled streets of the old town and only 500 metres from the beach.  Boa Vista sleeps four, has a gorgeous shared pool and an all important balcony with sea views for post surf beers and al fresco dining.
There are some fantastic beaches for surfing in Portugal. Hire a car and rent boards or find a surf school and book lessons.  Plenty of surf schools offer day trips, so if you don’t have a car they will drive you to the best surf spots.
Arrifana: Arrifana works well on low tide. The line up can get quite busy when the waves are pumping but it’s a good spot for beginners with fun, clean waves.  It’s also a good escape from the tourist areas as this beach is surrounded by nothing but rocky cliffs and golden sands.  On the west coast, Arrifana is around a 45 minute drive from the Algarve.
Praia Da Rocha: When the swell is too big in Sagres, Rocha is usually a better option.  The awesome beach break is smaller to the right of the pier.  The clean sets often roll in at a relaxed pace allowing beginners the chance to get out back and enjoy the clean waves.
Praia do Amado: If you fancy a day trip, Amado on the west coast is a cool spot for beginners as the waves are good on all tides.  Warm waters and consistent swell mean you’ll get a ton of opportunities to practise your pop-up here.  There’s just a bar and a car park, so it can often be a fairly peaceful spot.
Tonel: This hugely popular surf spot is just right for beginners and intermediates, sheltered from the north wind it offers consistent waves all year round.  Paddle out back to the green waves and pick up a an awesome left or right in this picture perfect setting.  Tonel is in walking distance of Sagres which is the most south-western point in Europe.  This remote spot has a gorgeous little town with plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Praia de Faro: Miles of shoreline and year round waves make this beach break a good option in most seasons.  The small and fun waves here are a beginners dream.  Even in the summer months there are some great little party waves to be had.
Packing list
Here are a few essentials for your surf trip:
  • Wetsuit: During the warmer months a 3/2 mm summer wetsuit is all you’ll need.  If you book lessons with a surf school, wetsuits are usually provided.
  • A good suncream for your face
  • Surfboard: Hire boards through a surf school or shop, if you are having lessons this will be included.  If you are taking your own board check with your airline on extra costs and any restrictions they may have.
  • Wax
  • Fin Key
  • A security box to put valuables and car keys in if you are hiring a car.  I have one similar to this and absolutely love it.  Attach it to your car, pop in your keys, punch in a code and that’s it.
  • A GoPrPro to capture all your best pop ups and waves.
Consistent surf all year round, warm waters and plenty of sunshine make learning to surf in Portugal an awesome experience.  So what are you waiting for?  Get planning right now for surf, sunshine and a whole lot of stoke!


Surfing in Cornwall with Corinne Evans…


Back in August I joined some other like-minded ladies on Corinne’s Surf Tour in Newquay, Cornwall.  Corinne is a professional surfer and an awesome coach, having not surfed for over a year the day really inspired me and gave me the confidence to jump back on a surfboard and catch some waves.  The day started with a spot of yoga outside overlooking Great Western Beach, followed by the first surf session.  A lunch stop to refuel got us all ready for the final surf of the day and to round it all up Corinne held a lovely little prize giving.  We each got given a bag filled with some gorgeous goodies too, I love a goody bag!  I’m really excited to share my experience of the day over on the surf tour page:  Corinne’s Surf Tour.

Corinne’s Surf Tour – Newquay…

I joined Corinne’s Surf Tour this weekend in Newquay at Towan Beach, after interviewing Corinne about the girls only tour and all things surf I was really excited to take part. The day started with a yoga session, great for stretching and preparing the mind and body for catching some waves. The POW Energy Water and Hemp Bar from Myprotein on each mat was a very nice touch, perfect for fuelling up and getting ready for surfing. After yoga it was time to pull on our wetsuits and head for the waves, partnering up to carry boards down to Great Western Beach I got chatting to some of the other girls, we all instantly clicked and had a lot in common, I knew it was going to be a great day.  My aims for the session were to feel confident in the water again, having had a year and a half off from surfing and a baby four months ago I was feeling a little nervous about getting back on a board and seriously doubted my fitness level! Once on the beach we were split into two groups, one for beginners and the other for girls who could already surf. After a quick recap I put my nerves aside as I paddled out and caught my first wave. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all came back to me. Depending on how well I got on I hoped to be out back on the green waves, and I was. Although small the waves were fun and perfect for building up my confidence. In between the swell it was so nice to chat to the other girls, we all gave each other encouragement and celebrated together when we caught waves!  A bit of whooping and cheering goes a long way in the water and helping each other along was a great confidence booster. After a good first session it was time to refuel with some lunch and a tasty smoothie. In the afternoon I had some coaching from Corinne on turning right, something I don’t do that often, as I love a lefty! It felt good to mix up turning on the waves and something I will keep practising. Eventually, we all began to get aching arms from paddling and not wanting the day to end I caught my last wave to the shore. The day was rounded up with a prize giving and Corinne gave each of us a lovely goodie bag full of treats fit for any budding surf girl!
Checkered Photography captured the action on camera; Sarah was in the water with us all day getting some awesome shots of everyone shredding and having fun. I also met surf blogger Kirsty, I’ve been a fan of her blog Kernow Surfgirl for a long time so it was brilliant to finally meet her and chat about all things surf! Surf instructor Betsy was also in the water coaching us along with Corinne, they were both so encouraging and made the experience an awesome one.
The day was fantastic and really boosted my confidence plus I meet some lovely ladies who I’m hoping to keep in contact with and surf with again.   You don’t have to have your own gear to take part, but if you do have a wetsuit and surfboard you can take them along.  If you want to learn to learn to surf or improve your surfing and meet like-minded ladies then sign up for Corinne’s Surf Tour, you won’t be disappointed!
The next surf days are at Saunton Beach in Devon on 17th September and Anglesey, North Wales on 24th September.



Corinne’s Surf Tour…

British professional surfer Corinne Evans is back for the second year with her hugely successful girls surf tour. Running throughout the summer in Devon, Cornwall and Wales it is an action packed day that every surf girl needs to get involved with! Corinne is a huge advocate of woman’s surfing and being a qualified surf coach she is there on the day to give hands on mentoring in the water. I am hugely excited to be joining Corinne on her surf tour in Newquay this Saturday. It’s been over a year since I have been on a board and I can’t wait to be coached by her. I caught up with Corinne to find out more about her passion for surfing and the low down on the tour….


How did you get into surfing and how old were you when you first jumped on a board?
As soon as we moved to Cornwall when I was 13 I fell in love with surfing but it took me a while to jump on a board. I loved body boarding and spending all my free time in the surf but I didn’t take to surfing till my late teens. After a few surf trips away I knew all I wanted to do was surf so that’s exactly what I did.


What do you love about surfing?
Where do I begin! Surfing is the most amazing sport I have ever tried. It keeps me healthy and happy. Being out in the ocean is such a magical feeling whether you’re catching waves or not.


Where in the world are your favourite surf spots? 
I love surfing at home; surfing with my friends, family and husband doesn’t get much better. If I had to pick a place to surf abroad it would be a close call between Barbados and the Maldives. I love both places! Surfing in a bikini is such a great feeling.


Do you have a regular surf spot? 
I always surf Fistral Beach, it’s my home break and the place I feel most at home.


What made you start up the girls surf tour?
When I first learnt to surf I wished there was something like my surf tour for me to attend. I longed for some other girls to surf with. So when surfing became my career I decided I needed to create something that would encourage more women to get into the surf.


What happens on the day and who can take part?
Well if you attend a surf day you’ll get two surf lessons, which I coach, a yoga class, lunch, goodie bags and also lots of prizes! It’s a great place to meet like-minded souls who also have a love of surfing. It’s such a great day, full of fun, smiles, laughter and above all lots of water time!


Do you need to have your own gear?
Nope not at all, all the surf kit is provided but if you have your own you’re more than welcome to bring it along with you.


What are your top tips for ladies wanting to get into surfing? 
Book on to my surf days, join a surf club, practice as much as you can and don’t be scared! Surfing is such a wonderful sport, that will put a huge smile on your face so what are you waiting for!


Apart from keeping yourself busy with the tour, what does the rest of the year bring for you?
When I’m not working on the tour I am surfing, modelling, blogging, writing for SurfGirl magazine and planning lots of adventures!


Thanks Corinne, I can’t wait to join you in the water! Head to Corinne’s Surf Tour for more information and to book your place on a day.


Barbados: A surfers’ paradise…

Sitting on my board staring out to sea, eyes fixed on the horizon in anticipation as I watch and wait for the waves to build and the sets to role in…a turtle pops its head up beside me and swiftly disappears again.  I look up to the sky for a moment and bask in the warm sun shining down on me. Glancing back out to the ocean I spot the swell building and roll onto my front ready for the waves.  Slowly I start to paddle.  I look over my shoulder keeping an eye on the wave and paddle faster though the water.  As I feel the force of the wave underneath me I jump to my feet, heart pumping and adrenaline going, I turn to the left as I surf along the line of the wave and feel the rush of water glide underneath my board…sheer and utter bliss, there is no feeling like this…
Surfing in Barbados is one of my travel highlights, I spent 48 hours in the Caribbean in early January; it was definitely a good start to the year!  I surfed at Freights on the south of the island, it is the perfect beach break for all levels of surfer and is renowned for its long left hand waves.  One thing I love about surfing in Barbados is the warm water, surfing in a bikini is a novelty compared to surfing at home in the UK which mostly involves a winter wetsuit, boots and gloves.  I took my GoPro with me for the first time on this trip and attached it to the front of my board.  I was really surprised with the footage and images that I got from it, along with some funny wipeouts! I put together a short edit of my trip, to watch it click on the link at the end of this blog.
There are plenty of surf spots to choose from on the island, Surfers Point by Zed’s Surf School and Pebbles Beach near Bridgetown are good for beginners.  Brandons, South Point, Duppies and Soup Bowl are excellent for more experienced surfers.  Soup Bowl is a world famous reef break with the likes of Kelly Slater enjoying its perfect, clean barrels.
After surfing I always need to refuel and you can’t go wrong with simple, honest Caribbean food. My usual post surf snack is a fish cutter (fish burger or sandwich to you and me) from Cuz, a small shack at Pebbles Beach.  I love this place!  It is so popular with locals and tourists there is often a large queue.  Ranked number two out of seventy three restaurants reviewed on Tripadvisor in Bridgetown, believe me it is definitely worth the wait.  Your fish cutter is cooked to order with salad in a tasty bun, it goes perfectly with a dollop of Bajun hot sauce.  Be careful if you are not used to it though as it is pretty fiery!  I love the stuff.  The other option is fried egg or cheese, but really it’s all about the fish.  I normally wash this down with a coke or a local Banks beer on the beach.  I have already mentioned how small Cuz is, but it is so good that it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide to Barbados.  Online the Lonely Planet guide says Cuz is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm although in true Caribbean style I have rocked up a few times to find it shut, often once they have run out of fish it’s time to shut up shop.  So my advice would be to visit earlier in the day to avoid disappointment.  My other favourite Bajan snack is a Roti; Chefette a local fast food joint does a very tasty chicken and potato one, yum!
If you want to learn to surf or are already an experienced surfer, Barbados is the perfect place for a surfing holiday and ideal for all levels of experience.  I learnt to surf at Zed’s surf school about 6 years ago and have been surfing with them ever since. I have made so many friends along the way, Zed, his family and everyone who works at the surf school along with lots of other people who have been surfing at the same time as myself from all over the world.  I am still in contact with some of them too. It is definitely something you can do by yourself; everyone is so welcoming it is easy to make new friends…
Sunshine, surf and sweet company, I can’t wait to return.
I found this great write-up from the New York Times it is jam packed full of information on surfing in Barbados and includes a mention of the lovely Zed.
I love this beautiful piece too: Super Salty Barbados.
If you want to know more about Cuz, My Destination tucks in here: Cuz’s Fish Snackette.
Do you have a favourite surf spot? I’d love to hear all about it…

Barbados surf video…

Starting the year off nicely I went to Barbados for two nights last week…this is of course one of the perks of my job as cabin crew and something I am very thankful for!  I spent my day on this beautiful island surfing. I learnt to surf in Barbados with Zed’s Surfing Adventures. I have made a lot of friends there, Zed, his family and colleagues are all so lovely and the instructors really know their stuff.  Here’s the write up of my trip: Barbados: A Surfers Paradise.  In the meantime I hope you enjoy this little edit…
To view in HD click here.




Surfing, Souks and Sunshine in Morocco

Ad: This post has been produced in collaboration with Explora Watersports
Morocco is a melting pot of culture and an extremely diverse country from the Atlas Mountains to vibrant cities full of buzzing souks, dramatic coastline and lots of desert.  This makes it the perfect place for an active holiday and a fantastic place for watersports.  Essaouira, a laid back coastal town found on the west coast is an ideal area to be based if you love to surf, SUP or kitesurf.   It is easily accessible by road from Marrakesh or Agadir in around two and a half hours, jump on a bus or catch a taxi.  Fortified walls, a fishing harbour, souks and a medina mean you can explore and shop for a bargain until your heart’s content.  Essaouira is known for its hub of artists so look out for some local artwork to purchase amongst the narrow alleyways lined with stores full of colourful treasures and spices.  Next, visit a Hammam or relax with a coffee while watching fisherman bring in their daily catch.  The fish auction is worth a visit too, held on Monday to Saturday from 3-5pm.
After exploring the town head to the beach for some action!  With consistent Atlantic swell from October to April, (with the winter bringing bigger sets) Essaouira’s beach break is good for beginners as well as those who can already surf; and where else do you get to see camels on the shoreline?!  Explora, based right on the beach offer kite and surf clinics as well as lessons.   For more advanced surfers who are looking for bigger breaks they also provide trips out to Sidi Kaouki, The Cave and Moulay.   If you prefer to go it alone, board and wetsuit hire are 25 Euros a day and lessons start from 30 Euros.  Water temperatures range from around 16°c in the winter and climb up to 21°c in the summer months.  Depending on the time of year you go you might be able to surf in board shorts, or if you are feeling really brave just a bikini!  Surf and Yoga camps cost €485 and combine ten hours of surf lessons with daily yoga classes.  Six nights accommodation are included plus some meals, take a look at the website for further details.  This is right up my street and sounds like a great way to improve skills and make new friends.  Explora can also sort out everything for the perfect surf trip and provide packages including transfers and accommodation.  Shopping in the souks, sunshine and surfing, this is my kind of holiday!

Surfing, cider and bacon sarnies in the UK…

Now that spring is on its way in the UK the days are getting longer and the sun is starting to shine, which means that it’s time to come out of hibernation and head to the coast.  I for one cannot wait to pack up my surfboard and wetsuit in the campervan and embrace the chilly British waters.  This time of year is perfect for hitting the surf especially as the days are getting brighter and right now the beaches aren’t so crowded.  This can mean only one thing: you have those waves all to yourself!  Plus with all the crazy weather the UK has been experiencing there has been some great swell pushing in.  So much so that during the storms in February top surfers from all over the world headed to the UK to catch some monster waves on the Cornish coast.
Being able to surf in just a bikini in warmer climates is great, nothing can beat it and I am lucky that I get my fix by surfing in Barbados every couple of months.  But there’s something I love about warming up in a campervan with a post surf hot chocolate and bacon butty on a crisp spring morning in England.  My top tip for warming up after a chilly surf is to wrap a hot water bottle in your towel; perfect after you’ve peeled off your cold wetsuit!  Throw on your hoody, jeans and uggs and hey presto you can start to feel your toes again.
Make sure you’ve got the right gear for colder waters; a winter wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood should keep you nice and toasty in the water.  My wetsuit is a 5mm and came with a hood, my gloves are 3mm and my boots are 6.5mm, they keep my feet so warm and the split toe design means there are really comfortable and easy to surf in.
If you have never surfed before, I thoroughly recommend giving it a try.  It is a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time.  It may take a while to get the hang of it and can involve a lot of falling in and getting rolled around in the waves, but this is all part of the fun and is confidence building!  It is also a great way to make new friends.  After you’ve had a few lessons hire or buy your own board and just keep practising.  It’s addictive!
Some of my favourite surfing beaches in the UK are:
Putsborough – This beach in Devon is a real treat!  There are fab views of the water from the car park making it perfect for checking the surf and for picnics.  There is a small campsite here too and you can hire surfboards and wetsuits if you don’t have your own.  The nearby village of Georgeham has a lovely pub called the Kings Arms, it’s a good place to stop for a pint or two after a surf.  You can also walk along the beach to Woolacombe from Putsborough.  Which leads me onto my next beach…
Woolacombe – Great beach for beginners and long boarders.  There are plenty of surf schools in the area, so do a web search before you go.  If the surfs not so great the small town is a nice place to grab a pasty and do some shopping.  SaltRock, and a few other surf shops will keep you busy on a flat day along with some nice arty and jewellery shops.  Failing that, the Red Barn is a great stop for a cider.
Saunton Sands – Six miles down the road from Woolacombe this beautiful beach has around three miles of uninterrupted shoreline so you can spread out.  Surf wise if the conditions are right there can be lots of nice long, clean sets; perfect for beginners.  There is a good surf school and hire shop on the beach too.
Fistral – Cornwall’s answer to Byron Bay, this beach is split in to North and South.  Fistral is world famous for its surf and holds lots of big surf competitions and festivals such as Boardmasters and the English National Surfing Championships.  North Fistral has mostly right hand breaks and is usually slightly bigger than South.  Fistral Beach Surf School is found right on the beach and provides lessons and board rental.
Rhossili – This beautiful beach in Wales has recently been awarded the number one spot on the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards 2014 – top 25 UK beaches.  I can understand why this 5km stretch of beach was voted as one of the best, it really shows off Britain’s beauty and its consistent beach breaks make it a great place to surf.
Closer to home I am pretty spoilt with some half decent beaches to surf at; these include the Witterings, Highcliffe and Bournemouth.  East Wittering, West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay are all nearby one another, if the surfs no good at one you can head to one of the others.  There are two great surf shops in East Wittering: Shore and Witterings Surf Shop.  Drift In coffee shop is part of Witterings Surf Shop and is a nice place to head to after a surf or beach walk.  Both Shore and Witterings surf shop provide board, wetsuit hire and lessons.
I am so lucky to live near the sea but I definitely do not make the most of it!  My plan this summer is to surf closer to home and use these lovely beaches nearby, aswell as the odd trip to Barbados for some bikini surfing!

The Bluffer’s Guide to Surfing…

This hilarious guide is a quick way to become a surfer without ever actually surfing!  It will arm you with all the knowledge you will need to impress your friends such as the best time of year to surf the Banzai pipeline, Hawaii and equip you with surfy lingo to make you sound cool!  Hang with the pros simply by dropping things casually into conversation, like the frontside air reverse and surfing the Severn bore.  Even if you just drive around all the beach car parks ‘checking’ the surf, pretending to know what you are doing but never actually get out of your car, the Bluffer’s Guide to Surfing is your perfect read!
I learnt a lot of interesting facts from this book such as other uses for surfboard fins which includes ‘’plates for sandwiches’’ and “as rudimentary knives for buttering bread on camping trips.”  Who’d have thought a surfboard could be so useful!  The guide offers pearls of wisdom such as: “An easy way of warming up the water inside your wetsuit is by urinating in it immediately.  Every surfer, girl or boy, does this, but it is rarely spoken about.”  I love this because it is hilariously true, but shhhh surfers don’t actually talk about it!
Even after surfing for a few years I don’t profess to know all the lingo & often feel obliged to use words such as gnarly & ripping it up to fit in with my fellow surf buddies.  So I am feeling ‘stoked’ after reading this book as I can now bluff my way through most surf chats!
If you want to know your rocker from your rails, your grommet from your kook and your snake from your sock this book is definitely what you need to bluff your way through the surfing world!
Head to the Bluffer’s website to purchase a copy and to check out the other Bluffer’s guides.

This review was written in exchange for a copy of The Bluffer’s Guide to Surfing.