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…

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…