If you’re leaning towards booking a surf camp in Portugal then you’ve come to the right place. Before you go though, check out Rapture Surfcamps’ list of what to expect when it comes to surfing in Portugal
Portugal as a learn to surf destination really needs no introduction, but because we here at Rapture Surfcamps love this ruggedly beautiful strip of land on the Iberian Peninsula so much, we thought we compile a list of things you need to know before you visit.
So read on if you’re thinking about booking a surf camp in Portugal and enjoy learning about what this culturally rich country has to offer the beginner surfer.
There are literally countless places to surf
Looking at a map of Portugal, it’s easy to see why it’s become the surf capital of Europe. With over 900 kilometers of surfable coastline, favorable winds, great exposure to Atlantic swells and easy access to all of those rocky nooks and crannies that are conducive to decent waves, there’s nearly always somewhere for you to paddle out.
This means that if you’re booking a surf camp in Portugal you can expect to catch plenty of waves and enjoy multiple surf sessions throughout the day. To the point that you’ll be noodle armed and almost totally caked with salt by the time you turn in for the night. More than this though, you’ll get the opportunity to refine your skills and build up your confidence in the water. Because that’s what surf camps are all about, right?
Life moves pretty slowly
The pace of life in nearly every other country in Europe feels exceptionally quick when compared to Portugal. But that’s not a bad thing by any means. In fact, we believe Portugal’s relaxed pace of life is one of its most memorable qualities. If only for the reason that you’ll rarely have to worry about early morning crowds when you want to score a few solo waves in the AM.
Yep, the Portuguese people’s love for that ‘No hurry, no worry’ style of living is both endearing and cathartic. So expect to slip into their steady rhythm of life and shed that underlying feeling of unrest that’s now a by-product of living in a fast-paced modern world. Walk to the beach, savor your coffee and spend some time watching the world go by. We guarantee this intoxicating lifestyle will have you booking a surf camp in Portugal and coming back year after year.
The seafood is as fresh as it gets
Vegetarians and vegans might not find this to be a particularly strong selling point, but for everyone else who loves their seafood, Portugal is heaven on earth. And given that most of the country’s main dishes are a hearty, heavy affair, it’s nice to know you can break up the constant servings of buttery vegetables and thick soups with some fresh, crisp seafood.
Try the Cataplana de Marisco, a traditional dish made in a special copper pan that contains various shellfish like clams, mussels and shrimp mixed with peppers and garlic. If you’re only peckish though, a small plate of grilled sardines with a salad on the side will definitely hit the spot. Regardless of what you order, you won’t be disappointed with what’s put in front of you 99% of the time. It’s probably only just been plucked out of the sea or off a rock that morning you know!
You might need to wriggle into a wetsuit
This may come as a bit of a surprise if you’ve never been to Portugal before, but you’ll be wearing a wetsuit if you’re surfing the country’s western coast. Obviously, this isn’t a big deal. The waves are good and the seafood’s fresh. But consider this a heads up… water temps can drop to 14˚C in winter and peak at around 19˚C in summer.
Of course, if you’re feeling brave you can probably get away with minimal neoprene. The truly courageous amongst you might even be able to surf in only boardshorts or a bikini. For everyone else booking a surf camp in Portugal, you can expect to rock a wetsuit whenever you hit the waves. We know, we know. They’re unflattering and kind of annoying. But since the surf here is so damn good, you’ll no doubt forget you’re even wearing one after catching the third best wave of your life for the day.
It’s one of the safest countries in the world
Portugal is just like every other country. It has its bad eggs… and we’re not talking about the ones that don’t make it into the Pastel de nata’s recipe (more on that later). Fortunately, organizations such as the World Population Review still consider it one of the safest countries in the entire world. Safer than Norway, Ireland and Australia. And most certainly safer than Yemen, just in case you were thinking of learning to surf there instead.
I guess what we’re trying to say is that even though it’s not immune to petty theft, people booking a surf camp in Portugal can click confirm on their dream trip and enjoy peace of mind knowing the chance of them being caught up in an act of crime are slim to none. In regards to nature though, the oceans can get rough and many are unpatrolled. Not to mention the sun can cook a rasher of bacon in 30-seconds during summer if given half the chance, which brings us to our next point.
Sunscreen will become a second skin
Sunscreen isn’t only for Irish tourists. It’s the first line of defence in protecting your skin from a terribly uncomfortable sleep or worse… full-blown third-degree burns. Nobody wants to look like a fresh slice of tomato after a surf and as they say in Australia – the country with the most incidents of skin cancer per capita – there’s nothing cool about a tan.
So if you’re booking a surf camp in Portugal, don’t be afraid to apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to any exposed skin. That includes the back of your ears and that notoriously susceptible burn zone beneath your eyes. Temperatures here can be brutal. Like, upwards of 30˚C with nowhere to hide brutal. Even 20 minutes in the water with temperatures like that combined with the glare reflecting off the ocean’s surface can turn you into a human beetroot. Don’t be the beetroot guy or girl at the Rapture camp dinner table.
The locals are a friendly bunch
If you’re worried about localism or that the Portuguese won’t be inclined to share their epic waves with you, don’t stress. A sincere ‘Bom dia’ and smile will disarm just about any older gentleman on the street and the local pro.
Portuguese people are an inherently friendly bunch after all. Willing to share their secret waves and give you the inside scoop on the best coffee spot in town. They are also respectful, open and incredibly warm. Just remember while you’re here, you’re a guest in this country and an ambassador for your own. Do your nation’s reputation proud by doing well by the Portuguese and everything will be peachy.
Pastel de nata and espresso is a perfectly acceptable breakfast combo
A delectable Pastel de nata is always a winner in our eyes. But when coupled with a hit of caffeine and served still warm, it’s a thing of beauty. You don’t have to take our word for it though. You can get this fluffy pastry and a shot of coffee before your early morning surf at exactly 100% of the cafés in Portugal.
Seriously, if the café you’re in doesn’t sell Pastel de nata, you’ve driven too far and are actually in Spain. So simply turn your car around and head west. There a Pastel de nata and cup of robust Portuguese coffee waiting for you after your surf lesson. If that’s not enough motivation for booking a surf camp in Portugal, we don’t know what is.