Surfing has been popular in Portugal since the first surf explorers drove their VWs down the costs to escape the Northern winters in the 1970s, although there are images of waves being ridden on cork bodyboards from the 1920s.
The narrow continental shelf and wave exposure of 180º means that it is very rarely flat even in the peak of summer and waves pack some serious power.
Summer winds are usually from the north resulting in poor conditions on exposed beaches but early morning glass is very common, park by the beach and beat the crowds.
There is no better way to explore the coast than in your own van, park next to the break and get on it before the crowds have even left the motorway.
The best time of year from waves is from September until November, long period Atlantic swells couple with warmer sea temps and still good weather to produce fantastic conditions.
Summer can be smaller and sometimes windy but there are always options and the long warm evenings are always appreciated.
For those that want to rent out of season we supply extra bedding to combat the cool evenings.
Set up in 2011 to protect the 7 main breaks around Ericeira, the World's first surfing reserve is designed to ensure that development does not spoil the coast or damage the unique waves.
There are 7 named breaks but also may other reefs or beaches that make up the reserve. All are signed and maps are available from the tourist office in Ericeira.
When to visit
If you visit during the late Autumn or early Spring then keep your eye on the forecast. There are few sights as imposing as watching 50' + waves being ridden. Nazaré works all year round but the biggest waves are in the Winter.
Share or explore
Crowds at the popular breaks, particularly those close to Lisbon or Porto, can be significant. Popular spots like Peniche and Ericeira are also often crowded with learners and travelling surfers.
The secret is to get up early, or drive a little way from town, even the most crowded breaks often have near neighbours that will be almost empty.
In general there is little localism though tempers have been known to fray at crowded breaks during small swells
Lively evenings campsite barbies
Up and down the coast there are lively social scenes based around towns and villages or even just car parks, in the Autumn as the nomads arrive from colder Northern climes you can meet fellow surfers from all over the world.
There is room for all and it is totally possible to surf alone even in peak periods
Away from the hustle of the main breaks, the whole coast of Portugal can provide great waves and fantastic places to park for the night.
There are hundreds of little-known breaks up and down the coast, most will have a small local crew but providing surf etiquette is followed you will generally be welcomed or at worst ignored.
Early morning sessions are frequently empty and easy to pull off because you are parked right there
Explore the waves up and down the coast
A couple of hours north of Lisbon lies the surf (and fish) town of Peniche, with the highest concentration of surf schools, and yet some of the most powerful beach breaks in the World.
People flock to Baleal and Peniche for the parties and because of its geography to surf offshore waves.
There are great learner breaks but it is also home to the fearsome Supertubos which is always crowded and, depending on size, sometimes so powerful it leaves broken boards up and down the beach.
Waves, parties and surf schools