An Introduction to the Algarve
The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, and is famous for its beautiful beaches, tourist activities, and national parks. Although the population is relatively small at just under half a million, the region receives up to 10 million visitors every year. Most of the the Algarve is extremely busy during the summer months due to the influx of tourists, making it a most unpleasant place to visit.
However, a small area around Sagres, on the very south west tip of the country, seems to remain relatively tourist free. Since some of the best waves in Europe are found around here, as well as beautiful weather and friendly people, surfing the Algarve has become popular among both amateur and professional surfers alike.
The Best Places for Surfing the Algarve
As noted above, most of the Algarve region is best avoided during the summer months due to the extreme number of tourists who flock there. However, along the west coast and around the south west of the region, it is still possible to find beaches which are almost empty of people. A lot of these beaches require long drives and even longer walks to access, but are absolutely worth it. Even if there does happen to be other people on the beach, there is usually plenty of space to go around.
Although Lagos can be very busy within peak season, it offers cheap accommodation and a lively culture. However, it is just half an hours drive from the beautiful west coast where you will find consistent surf and empty beaches.
It is possible to find dorm rooms for as little as 10 Euro per night. Incredibly, with a little local knowledge it is also possible to avoid the majority of the tourists and enjoy many an interesting night within the more traditional areas of the city.
In many people’s opinions, Sagres is the holy grail of surfing in Portugal. It offers a huge selection of beaches to surf in any weather. If the swell isn’t right for the south coast, it becomes as simple as popping around the headland to find the waves on the west.
When there is a swell running, beaches like Beliche and Mareta offer some shelter from the big waves. Equally, beaches like Telheiro provide action almost every day of the year, even when the swells are quite small. If you are serious about surfing the Algarve, go to Sagres!
Accommodation in Sagres starts from around 20 Euro in super friendly hostels or guesthouses. If you would like to have a fun experience with a group of ocean loving, down to earth people, then the Good Feeling Hostel just northeast of the main village is a great option. Although it is a little way from the town and the beach, the friendly staff offer daily beach transfers and surfboard hire, while a regional bus stops just out the front of the hostel.
The small town of Arrifana is located on the west coast in a beautiful and remote area. Arrifana reef, just minutes from the town, is often touted as one of the best rights in Portugal. However, due to this, it can get extremely busy during summer, so be careful. The Pousadas Juventude hostel in Arrifana offers cheap accommodation. This makes it a good place to base yourself when surfing the Algarve.
Boasting a famous fort and beautiful beaches, Carrapateira has become somewhat famous in recent years. It is surrounded by the beautiful Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, which provides great alternatives for the bad weather days when surfing is not possible.
No matter what your skill level or budget, if you are interested in surfing the Algarve, then there is a place suited to you. If you want to escape the throngs of tourists, then head up the west coast. Alternatively, if your aim is to experience the culture and have a good time while surfing a little in between, Lagos may be the town for you.