Did somebody say “surf’s up”? Why yes, I think they did! Even though, if we’re nit-picking, the surf is always up somewhere in the world, this time of the year opens up some awesome opportunities to chase the waves around the southern European coastlines – and, for those in the know, you’ve might have guessed I’m talking in particular about Portugal.
Renowned for some of the best waves in Europe, Portugal’s geography means that virtually its entire coastline has become a surfing mecca for both amateurs and seasoned pros. Everyone has their favourite place, but the beaches around Sagres, in the western Algarve region, are arguably amongst the best in the country. (And it’s a pretty hectic party town too, by the way!)
If you want to challenge the best swell the Atlantic can throw at you, here’s just a taster of some of the best surfing beaches around Sagres.
Praia do Tonel
Tonel offers really consistent conditions, so if you’re here for a good time not a long time it won’t let you down – it’s also highly accessible. Tonel is a very decent point break, set against rugged cliffs and a fairly exposed beach. The best conditions are when winds are coming in strong from the northeast, but you still get good swells (up to about two metres) even from light winds. There’s no change in wave quality whether it’s high or low tide, but you do need to keep an eye out for regular strong rips. The best thing about Tonel is that even when conditions are pumping it doesn’t ever feel too crowded. There are some decent amenities here, including a lifeguard and several surf schools.
Find it: About 700 metres to the west of Sagres, within walking distance of town.
Skill level: Ideal for beginners.
Definitely best when on a mid-tide, Sagres South is a pretty popular surf spot with both visitors and locals – and for good reason. When the winds are right, it offers a legendary hollow barrel, but even on an off-day you’ll get some pretty challenging smaller breaks. Taking full advantage of the swell window coming in from Cape Vincent (the junction point of the western and southern coasts of Portugal), if you’re chasing the perfect barrel (and who isn’t?) you’ll need to wait for a huge north-westerly swell, which doesn’t come along every day. But when it does, magic happens. Keep your eye on the tide charts and be prepared to drop everything to get there.
Find it: A five-minute drive south of Sagres.
Skill level: More suited to intermediates and experts.
Praia do Beliche
Constantly pounded by the powerful Atlantic swells, Praia do Beliche is one of the most exciting and challenging beach breaks around Sagres. You’ll get the best conditions on a mid-high tide, with some gnarly swells up to three metres at times. The barrels are super fast and hollow, and if you can get in the pocket of one of those big babies you’ll get the ride of your life! It can get pretty crowded out there on a good day, but it’s definitely for the experts so you don’t normally get too much trouble with drop-ins. The only downside (or you could call it an adventure!) is the loooong (100 metre) walk down the beach steps – it can get interesting with all those flailing boards!
Find it: The beach is 3km north-west of Sagres along the EN268 (or walk in 15 mins).
Skill level: Only suitable for confident experts, due to the prevalence of rips.
Praia do Telheiro
This western-exposed beach is bordered by huge cliffs on either side and feels really remote, even though it’s only about seven kms from the town of Sagres. It’s the first beach past Cape St Vincent and, although it’s a little more difficult to find, it’s well worth it if you’re up for a challenge. A word of warning though: this is for experienced surfers only and it’s often deserted – so unless you’re really confident or with some mates, it’s not recommended you tackle it solo. The powerful swell breaks to both the right and left, so it can get a little messy, but if you rate your skills highly and are up for pitting yourself against the Atlantic at its most raw, Praia do Telheiro has the capacity to be your own personal Nirvana. Hold on tight and ride the feeling…
Find it: The beach is north-west of Sagres along the EN268 about another 3.5 km past Praia do Beliche. It’s not signposted so you’ll have to keep a sharp eye out!
Skill level: Only suitable for experts – and beware of submerged rocks.
You’ve got a lot to look forward to if you’re only just discovering Sagres, but if you can stretch your time a little bit longer on your surfing adventure, you might want to check out the top spots around Porto, as well.
The search for the perfect wave continues…
How to Get to Sagres from Faro Airport
If you’re up for an impromptu short surfing break to Sagres, it’s not hard to organise. Flights from the UK to Faro take under three hours and there are plenty of regular scheduled services every day of the week.
Once you touch down at the airport, convenient Faro transfers are your best bet to get you straight to your accommodation in Sagres so you won’t waste any valuable wave time. From the airport to Sagres it’s about an hour and 40 minutes by road, and you’ll get to see plenty of surf along the way to whet your appetite. If you’re travelling with your own board, don’t forget to advise the airport transfer service at the time of your online booking.
Where to Stay
Aparthotel Navigator – With the ocean at your fingertips, all the fun of town within walking distance and onsite facilities including free Wi-Fi and a bar, the Aparthotel Navigator is your perfect home from home so you can answer the call of ‘surf’s up!’ Get out on the water all day, party all night, then order a hearty room service breakfast to get you ready to do it all again.
Don Tenorio Aparthotel – With room for you and your boards, cool, spacious and just 800 metres from the beach, Don Tenorio Aparthotel offers authentic accommodation with access to all the fun of Sagres. You won’t need to waste any time getting around from this ideal location, and when your toes aren’t ‘on the nose’ you can be sunning them around the huge onsite pool and dreaming of the next big barrel.
Pousada de Sagres – Treat yourself to a surf break with the wow factor at Pousada de Sagres. Perch yourself on this spectacular cliff top location and get the best view of the Atlantic besides the one from your board! If you’re up for a little style with your surfing, you’ll love the large rooms, fantastic pool with a view, free Wi-Fi and convenient onsite restaurant. If you’re looking to improve your style while you’re surfing, you might want to warm up with a game of tennis, a trip to the nearby fort or a fishing trip! Just because you can.
About Shuttle Direct
With Europe and North Africa’s most extensive range of shared and private airport transfers, Shuttle Direct‘s stellar reputation is borne out by our fast, friendly and cost efficient services. Make an online booking through our easy-to-use system and you’ll be met at the airport of your choice by an experienced driver and taken right to the door of your accommodation. With services to suit any budget, you can choose from our convenient private transfers or a budget-friendly shared service.