Surfing in Portugal – Europe’s West Coast

World Tour venue Supertubos

Since the official dedication of the World Surfing Reserve in Ericeira (30 km North of Lisbon) in October 2011, only second to Malibu in California, Portugal has been worldwide acknowledged as world class surfing ground. After a long hiatus, the Dream Tour returned to Portugal in 2009 for the Rip Curl The Search Pro in Supertubos – Peniche, and the spectacular venue became a regular ASP World Tour event since.

As we are now advancing onto the third round of the 2012 event, we seized the opportunity to chat with a reputed Portuguese surfer, and hear his thoughts on the future of Portugal as a surfing destination. João Pelágio is a former contender to the Portuguese Tour, and after extensive visits to various spots around the globe, his firm belief is that Portugal is the best overall option.

Here is a copy of the interview:

1. João, as an experienced and worldly surfer, you had the opportunity to surf in some of the world’s most sought after regions. In your opinion, why should European travellers consider surfing in Portugal, instead of renown exotic destinations, such as Bali or the Goldcoast? What are the main advantages Portugal has for surfers? 

So far, I have been surfing for 18 years in the some of the best places in the world and Portugal is still my favorite location worldwide, maybe in parity with Indonesia (but for different reasons). To consider why Portugal is the best location for European travellers, I will be comparing it with some of the most known surf areas worldwide, ranging from Costa Rica, West Coast US, East Coast US, Goldcoast Australia, etc..

I used a few variables that create my conditions for a perfect trip, ranging from waves, to fun programs, safety, among others



In terms of timing, you can get to Portugal by plane from most places in Europe in 2 to 3 hours. I lived in Barcelona for 2 years and I used to come to surf on weekends at least twice a month, for a cheap flight and a not exhausting trip. When you compare this to Bali or the Maldives, the cost and duration of the journey make it impossible for a short trip.Overall, Portugal is the top location if you consider you will find great weather, in comparison to the rest of Europe (plus North America); huge variety and frequency of surf, from beachbreaks (like Supertubos) to point breaks all over Ericeira, and the little breaks near Lisbon when the swell maxes out. Besides all this, you can enjoy great food, quality urban life and nice locals that speak English.

Pelágio sets his rail for a backside tube, somewhere in Southern Portugal

Pelágio sets his rail for a backside tube, somewhere in Southern Portugal

2. Surfing has been on a roll in the recent years in Portugal, with the regular ASP World Tour event in Supertubos – Peniche since 2009, and the dedication of Ericeira as a World Surfing Reserve (only second to Malibu, CA). How would you evaluate, in a global outlook, the protected 4 km of surfing grounds in Ericeira, and the Supertubos break in Peniche?

I believe the biggest blessing of Portugal is the proximity of excellent and magical surf within a 150 km range, concentrated in 4 top locations: Costa da Caparica (on the South Bank of the Tagus River, facing Lisbon to the North); Estoril and Cascais (15 km West of Lisbon); Ericeira (40 km North of Lisbon) and Peniche (100 km North of Lisbon).

Focusing on the most popular, Supertubos in Peniche is just the cherry on top of the cake: a perfect sand-bar that stays consistent year after year and produces amazing barrels. And all around Peniche you will find 20 other spots from point breaks to beach breaks for every kind of surfer. For some reason this year is the 4th in a row with great waves for the World Tour Event. Regarding Ericeira, my favorite area in Portugal, it has amazing point-breaks for every taste, longboard style to hardcore slabs.

Santo Amaro, just off Lisbon, is an occasional winter break, boasting critical tube rides over a shallow 40 cm layer of water

Santo Amaro de Oeiras, just outside Lisbon, is an occasional winter break, boasting critical tube rides over a shallow 40 cm layer of water

So many quality spots within such short distance is something I have never seen anywhere in the world (Bali is also a really good contender for this argument).


3. You were born and raised in the Estoril – Cascais area, and after a few years living abroad, you are back in Estoril. For those who are not familiar with the area, how would you describe, in terms of surfing, the 25 km coastline connecting Oeiras to Sintra?

Cascais and Estoril areas are very similar to the San Diego Area in the US, in terms of waves and environment, urban area with lively lifestyle, diversity of beaches with average crowd (worse on weekends), and waves ranging from waist high to well above overhead. Usually friendly locals and interested about travellers.

Coxos is among the most sought after right handers in Europe

Coxos is among the most sought after right handers in Europe

The town of Cascais faces South West, so it gets big northwest swells that turn around the city and hit the coast down to Oeiras (before Lisbon), but on smaller days you can surf the beachbreaks that are directly exposed to N-NW swells, like Guincho and Praia Grande (on the other side of the Sintra hills). These 2 places are so exposed that waves are never below waist high. I think in a full year you might get 10 days (never in a row) that are totally flat.

My advise, is get a car and just discover, I have been surfing this coast for 18 years and I am still discovering new spots each month.



For those eager to know more about the official dedication of Ericeira as World Surfing Reserve, here is the link to the full article on the WSG website

If you are considering a surfing holiday to Portugal, email us at, or just fill an enquiry form for one of our properties, and we will be pleased to assist you plan your trip, with our deep local knowledge.

World Tour venue Supertubos

ASP World Tour venue Supertubos

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