I have been living in Copenhagen, Denmark for almost 3 years now, 3 years in which I’ve had very limited exposure to waves. Whenever I have the opportunity to have a surf trip the first place that comes to mind is home. Portugal. To be more precise, Carcavelos, greater Lisbon. Growing up in the suburbs of Lisbon, you’re exposed from a young age to the joys of the sea and its importance. It provides oxygen, food, energy, affects climates, fauna, flora; its influence is immeasurable.
Life around the sea is exciting and ever-changing. Naturally – though not as quickly as some – in my mid-teens, I grabbed a board for the first time and started surfing with my friends. That was the beginning of a new life and a new way to see and experience the world.
As a young teen, your wave options are very limited: you are very dependent on having a bike, going on foot or having older friends or parents to drive you to spots. As we grew older and gained our independence (as well), we became more aware of the importance of choosing the right spot at the right time.
Windguru and Magicseaweed became our best friends. Religiously checking the forecast whenever we weren’t in our wetsuits. The life of a surfer is dictated by a number of conditions: wind, swell direction and period, tides and shape-shifting sandbanks. This was a puzzle that became easier to solve with time and experience. This said, surfing good waves in Portugal requires plenty of patience and luck.
Portugal has some of the best and most diverse surf breaks in the world. In my opinion, it’s the best surf destination in Europe. It is exposed enough that big swells are abundant in the winter and the jagged coastline always provides sheltered spots and hidden gems – if you know where to look.
Up and down the country Portugal is riddled with world-class breaks, but it’s all about being at the right place at the right time. Aveiro, Nazare, Peniche, Santa Cruz, Ericeira, Sintra, Carcavelos, Costa da Caparica, Sagres and everywhere in between, Portugal’s rugged coastline has a lot to offer. This can require a lot of driving, early starts and some exploration, but when it all comes together and all the hard work pays off you’ll have some unforgettable surf sessions.
I have been lucky enough to surf a lot around Portugal but I know there is so much more out there. Exploration is something that really captivates me, and we can all agree there is nothing better than surfing an untouched wave with only a couple of your best friends around. There is nothing like it, it’s the dream. I may or may not have knowledge of such places, but if I told you I’d have to...nevermind, that will never happen. If you find somewhere special, guard it and enjoy it while it lasts, then you’ll have to search far and wide for the next Utopia. Is Utopia a place? Can it be found? There’s only one way to find out, the search is on!
As I write this article I can’t help but get nostalgic and think about the countless epic sessions and good times the Atlantic Ocean has provided me and my friends. Surfing for me is nothing without having someone to share it with. I get an equal thrill getting the barrel of my life or seeing my friend boost a massive air. It’s a shared experience and it’s what binds us, in this natural, primitive playground where we explore, learn and thrive.