Where to catch the best waves in the Algarve
With its combination of beautiful sandy beaches and wild, rugged cliff tops, the Algarve’s extensive coastline has long been a big draw for locals and tourists alike. It also has a well-established surf culture, which goes hand-in-hand with the friendly, laid-back attitude of the locals.
It’s the Algarve’s absolutely spot-on location that makes it such a big draw for surfers; perfectly positioned on the south-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula, it can pick up swells from almost any direction.
The Algarve’s two coastlines provide an enviable mix of Atlantic and Mediterranean influences, and the proximity of one coast to another means you never have to travel too far to catch a wave, whatever the weather. Unfavourable wind on one coast? A short drive around the south-western tip will take you to a beach facing the other way. Too calm in the south? Head over to the more exposed west for a burst of north-westerly Atlantic breeze.
The wide variety of beaches in the Algarve can accommodate surfers with different levels of experience, and the region’s abundance of surf schools and clubs can put you through your paces, whether you want to surf, bodyboard, or try SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) – something that’s growing in popularity in Portugal.
The south coast typically offers smaller waves more suited to novices, and popular spots for beginners are the more sheltered beaches of Praia de Rocha in Portimão. As you head towards the south-west tip of the region, you can usually count on some good breaks, particularly in the cooler months. Here, you can take advantage of the wide swell window of Cape St Vincent, at the point where the west and south coasts meet. A particular popular beach for surfing and bodyboarding is Praia do Beliche, situated in a wide bay between Sagres Point and Cape St Vincent, and sheltered from the prevailing winds. Other nearby beaches favoured by surfers incude Tonel, Beliche and Mareta.
Less developed – and more breathtakingly beautiful – than the south coast, the Algarve’s west coast, known as the Costa Vicentina, is Europe’s largest coastal natural park. It boasts a huge variety of beaches, featuring sandy coves, towering cliffs and intriguing rock formations, not to mention a wide variety of flora and fauna. Many of the beaches on this stretch are perfect for surfing, and, thanks to the predominantly north-westerly swells, waves can reach 5 metres in the winter. Here, experienced surfers head for Arrifana, Cordoama or Castelejo, while surfers of all abilities can catch a wave at Amado, Bordeira or Monte Clerigo.
Surfing is an all-year-round pastime in Portugal and one of the best times to go is during spring or autumn, when you’ll find the beaches quieter and the temperatures sublime. But even in winter, the sun is nearly always shining and the water temperature is comfortable.
Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa has teamed up with one of the oldest surf schools in the Algarve, Future Surfing School, to offer guests a range of surf packages. These active breaks give you daily surfing, bodyboarding or SUP lessons at some of the region’s best surfing beaches together with luxury accommodation and upscale amenities back at the resort.
To celebrate the launch of our surf packages, Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa is holding a series of surf-related events this September. Guests can take part in special surf-inspired fitness sessions and workshops, attend fascinating talks from local pro surfers, try a static surfboard or learn about handcrafted surfboards made from sustainable materials.