Forget the pipelines, bowls and barrels of Hawaii, because who’s got the time to fly halfway across the world for a few days of big wave action? If you’re a an avid surfer, or even if you’ve just been bitten with the big-swell bug, there’s somewhere much closer to home that might not have the glamour of Maui, Oahu or Kauai, but has just as much going for it. Say ‘aloha’ to Ericeira – although ‘ola’ may be more appropriate!
Portugal is fast becoming known as home to the best surfing beaches in Europe, and Ericeira, on the western coast, is so good it’s actually been designated a World Surfing Reserve. If you’re not sure what that means, in a nutshell it means it’s good. Really, really good. In fact, it’s been listed as one of the most consistent surf spots on the South Atlantic coast.
Along Ericeira’s eight kilometres of coastline there are plenty of awesome surfing beaches, but these ones listed below are generally considered the best. So get out there and face off to the mighty Atlantic and let’s see what you’re made of!
One of the most northerly surf beaches in the region (about 6km from Ericeira), this gnarly reef break is not one for beginners. You’ll get multiple peaks, but the best one is the outside of the fast right-hander – especially when there’s a really big swell. Watch out for regular clean-up sets coming in from the west, which definitely sort the men from the boys! Best conditions are under an east or south-easterly wind and a mid-tide. You can get some really big northerly swells here (three to four metres) and it can be a pretty challenging ride, but if you’re up for an adventure and you’re confident in your skills, get on and enjoy the ride!
Difficulty: Intermediates and experts only, not suitable for beginners.
Just south of São Lourenço, Coxos is home to what most surfers in the know say are some of the best waves in the country. On a low tide with a good south-easterly wind, the flawless right-hand point/reef break produces some cranking hollow barrels that feel like they could take you all the way to Maui! With swells up to three metres, the waves at Coxos are fast, long and powerful, so get your best game face on and toes on tight!
Let us know if you get to Maui…
Difficulty: Experts only. Watch out for sea urchins!
If you feel the need for speed, head up to Pedra Branca, about 4km north of Ericeira. This shallow reef break isn’t suitable for trick riding (you’ve been warned), but if you want to get into some awesome fast tubes and some good clean surfing, this is a great place. This is a mighty fast left-hand break over a low reef, so it’s not recommended at low tide. You’ll get waves up to about 2.5 metres on a mid-high tide and beautiful long barrels up to around 100 metres. If you catch a good wave, this can be moving meditation to the max…
Difficulty: Experienced intermediates and experts only.
Praia do Sul
Located just south of Ericeira (walking distance), Praia do Sul is really only worth surfing when the swells are decent. There are lots of peaks (Pico do Futuro and Furnas will give you a run for your money) and the occasional long, strong barrel. The right-hand reef break can get messy and is best left to the experts, while there’s a second, smaller sand/reef break that offers good challenges for beginners. As well as the reef, there are lots of rocks around the beach and in the shallows, so you’ll need to take care when getting in and out.
Difficulty: Something for everyone, depending on the size of the swell.
Foz do Lizandro
Also walking distance from the centre of Ericeira, Foz do Lizandro is the perfect place to get your board legs if you’re a little rusty or just starting out. That’s not to say there’s nothing for experts, because under the right conditions, with a decent east south-easterly wind, you can catch some pretty awesome fast and long barrels. One of the most consistent breaks in the region, with multiple peaks and swells up to two metres, there are plenty of opportunities out there if you’re on the ball.
Difficulty: Perfect for beginners, intermediates and a few challenges for experts.
The basic premise is that the beaches north of the town are suitable for expert surfers and the ones south are more suited to beginners – which gives you a pretty good guideline and also something to aim for. See you up the northern end…or maybe next year!
Tip: If you fall in love with Portugal’s surfing beaches, you might be interested in learning more about Porto, as well.
How to get to Ericeira from Lisbon Airport
If you’re packing your board and heading for a surfing safari to Ericeira you won’t have to stress about the details. It takes just two and a half hours to get from the UK to Lisbon, and you’ll be able to pick up last-minute flights any day of the week. Most airlines allow your board on free with checked luggage, but check before flying to avoid any holdups.
Once you land in Portugal, getting from the airport straight to the door of your accommodation is easy if you’ve pre-booked a Lisbon transfer online (just let the transfer company know you’re travelling with a board). The quick, picturesque trip to Ericeira takes around 45 minutes, so you can get a morning flight from the UK and be surfing by the afternoon.
Where to Stay
Surf and Family Beach House – A genuine beach house, the Surf and Family Beach House is your one stop super surf shack! A fusion of rustic and contemporary hotel style, the showstopper of this awesome house is the jaw dropping view from every vantage. Come, surf, stay – conquer the waves and you’ll never want to leave.
Ericeira Apartment – The freedom and convenience of an apartment with the spectacular views and amenities of a high-end hotel, Enceira Apartment has enough space to spread out, a fabulous pool and the opportunity to surf virtually off your front doorstep. Sleep in late, breakfast on the balcony then head out to chase the rollers all day.
Coxos Beach Lodge – Sleek, modern and full of fun, the Coxos Beach Lodge is just five minutes from one of Portugal’s best surfing beaches. With air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and an excellent onsite restaurant in addition to your own kitchen, everything’s within arm’s reach. The warm timber décor of the spacious apartments adds a touch of luxury to your surfing safari, while the ideal location means you’ll have plenty of time to concentrate on the important things – those waves.
About Shuttle Direct
For the fastest, cheapest and most convenient airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct has every traveller covered. Our range of shared or private services can be pre-booked online, and you’ll have the peace of mind of confirmed travel arrangements before you leave home. We’ve got many years of experience in the industry, so you can rest assured our services will get you to where you need to go – and back again.