Silver Coast Surfing
– super tubes on the Costa de Prata
The Silver Coast is widely acknowledged as the best and most consistent spot for surfing in Portugal. The surfing action is centred on a stretch of the Costa de Prata between Ericeira and Peniche where the shape of Portugal’s coastline provides great surf conditions pretty much every day of the year. Locals say that in the surf grounds around Peniche it doesn’t matter which way the wind is blowing – the twists and turns of the coastline mean there will always be a beach where the wind is off-shore and creating perfect waves.
The climate is very mild with solid, consistent surf. Offshore morning breezes are extremely common, pushing up regular six foot waves which rise to 15 foot and larger in the winter. Some get much, much bigger than that – in Nazaré, north of Peniche, lies the famous North Canyon where big wave surfers gather every winter to ride a freakishly large wave thrown up by a rare subterranean geological feature. The biggest wave ever surfed was ridden here, a true board and bone-crushing monster almost 100 foot high.
Big names, big waves
Every year the best surfers on the planet come to the Silver Coast for the Portuguese leg of the pro tour. Based at Supertubos near Peniche, the action-packed Rip Curl Pro Portugal contest moves to whatever nearby beach happens to be pumping on any particular day. Ericeira further south is also firmly on the pro map with the World Qualifying Surf Championships that take place each year at Riberia D’Illhas beach. There are also many other major surfing events like the Ocean Spirit festival in Santa Cruz that attract the stars of the sport throughout the year.
Surf all year round
The waves are generally big and challenging all along the coast in the winter, making the Silver Coast a year-round destination for surfers and keeping the surf hostels and hotels busy even on the coldest days. Being the Atlantic the water is cold and wetsuits are essential on all but the hottest days – a recommended minimum 4/3mm for winter and a 3/2mm for the summer. Facilities for visiting surfers are excellent with a wide range of places to stay in all price ranges and loads of shops offering boards and equipment for sale. Many places will also rent out boards and wet suits.
The milder summer months bring great weather and mellower waves and are ideal for learners. There are many surf schools in the area offering everything from tuition by the day to week-long packages with transport and accommodation included. For more experienced surfers there are guided surf tours available which offer the benefit of paddling out with an experienced local and a chance to surf at spots that might otherwise be missed by someone not familiar with the area.
Where to surf
The Silver Coast’s main surfing beaches are concentrated around the towns of Peniche and Ericeira. Between them they have around 20 of the country’s best surf spots, offering an amazing variety of waves in the space of a few kilometres. The diversity of these Costa de Prata beaches mean there are great surfing conditions for all levels of surfer, whether they’re a complete beginner or pro, somewhere along the coast. There are more great waves as you move northwards up the Silver Coast, notably at Nazaré, Figueira da Foz and Aveiro. Check out the Surf Guides above for the best spots.