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While central Portugal sees some of the best surfing in the world (the record for largest wave surfed was there, after all), the Algarve‘s wild west is also a fantastic spot. Known to locals and a few savvy travelers, it’s a great place to catch some gnarly waves and enjoy the chill atmosphere. Here’s our need-to-know guide.
Portugal faces the Atlantic – the traditional fishing village of Sagres is the chin of the country, in addition to also being the southwesternmost point in Europe. Known for a quiet atmosphere that more closely resembles Alentejo than the Algarve, it’s a charming spot that has just recently begun to see a bit of action during the summer months. What is one of the attractions? The surf!
The waves vary from mild and medium sizes on most days to fairly large, especially when the winter months hit, and the best time to visit will depend on the experience sought.
Although some locals may feel reluctant to share their slice of Portuguese paradise with foreign visitors, the area has a small, welcoming surf community. Those who have never surfed before can learn to catch their first waves with some lessons from the Algarve Surf School, which has a branch based out of Sagres (the other school is out of Lagos). In addition to surfing lessons, the school organizes excursions and camping opportunities so like-minded strangers can become new friends. There are many other schools in the area to check out as well.
The west side of the Algarve has a few other spots worth checking out and one is Arrifana Beach, about 30 miles (48 km) north from Sagres. Also fairly secluded, it’s located near another charming fishing village as well as at the base of a cliff face. Arrifana beach is one of the closest to Aljezur and is located towards the southern end of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, which adds to its remote and authentic nature.
Between Sagres and Arrifana beach is Castelejo beach in the Vila do Bispo municipality, yet another fantastic surfing spot that is also remote but fairly easy to reach by car (with an on-site parking lot).
All of these beaches are also wonderful destinations for enjoying fresh seafood, and the restaurants are not far. It’s even easy to eat green and vegetarian-friendly restaurants are never too much of a drive away when in the Algarve.