Sagres Surfing Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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Located on the very western tip of the Algarve, Sagres is one of the most remote regions of Portugal. While its coastal cliffs and windswept landscapes remain well-off-the-beaten-path for most tourists, Sagres surfing is a dream for surfing enthusiasts.

Sagres is also one of Portugal’s sunniest towns. When you’re not catching waves, one can relax on golden sand beaches, hike the rugged Atlantic coastline, paddleboard through majestic caves and enjoy authentic seafood eateries perched feet from the sea. With a range of accommodations, it’s the perfect destination for young adventurers, families, and older couples alike.

Yet, as the Sagres coast stretches for miles in nearly all directions, finding the perfect swell takes local knowledge. Check out our top tips for Sagres surfing below and start planning your surfing vacation of a lifetime.

Where can I surf in Sagres?

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As Sagres is located on the southwest tip of the Algarve, its coastline stretches both towards the south and the west. This offers an incredible array of beaches to surf and differing conditions and swells for all levels of surfers. 

West coast Sagres surf locations

  • Arrifana – known for its mellow beach breaks and consistent waves, it’s a favorite amongst beginners. Here, you’ll find surf lessons spread across the beach along with beach-goers enjoying the warm Portuguese sunshine.
  • Bordeira & Carrapateria – after a 25-minute drive north of Sagres, you’ll come to some of the best surfing in the region. Here, an expansive beach provides the perfect base to catch heavy beach breaks. However, as this beach is known to get some hefty swells in the winter, it’s deemed an intermediate to expert-level surfing spot.
  • Tonel – located on the west side of Sagres, Tonel beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area. The surrounding headlands provide slight protection from the roar of the Atlantic ocean and create a range of different waves. Beginners to pros can enjoy the beach breaks but do keep an eye out for rocks hiding under the water.

South coast Sagres surf locations

  • Mareta – tucked between two peninsulas, this protected beach is ideal for beginners or those happy to play on smaller waves. One could spend all day floating in the warm summer waters, but with the right swell, Mareta can get big, so always check the forecast or ask at a local surf shop.
  • Praia do Zavial – surfing or beach strolling, Praia do Zavial is a lively beach perfect for spending the day between water and land. Ten minutes down the coast from Sagres, you’ll need your own vehicle to reach this gem, but when you arrive, you can count on beginner-friendly waves to test out your skills.

Sagres Surfing Lessons

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Walking down the sandy streets of Sagres, one thing is apparent. There are just as many surf shops as there are restaurants and cafes. Most are locally owned and offer similar rentals, accessories, and lessons. We’ve hand-picked a few of our favorites:

Algarve Surf School

If you’ve been to Sagres, you’ve likely seen the Algarve surf school out and about practicing. In operation since 1996, it’s one of the oldest and most well-known surf schools in the area. They offer one-day surf lessons, which cost around 65 euros and includes hire gear and two lessons with certified surf instructors. Or, if you have more time on your hands, join their seven-day surf camp, where you’ll get two lessons per day as well as yoga sessions, transport, breakfast, and hire gear. The cost for a full week is around 340 euros and is a great way to meet new friends and take your surfing skills to a whole new level.

Freeride

Owned by Portuguese brother and sister Marta and Joao Mealha, you can count on endless local knowledge when signing up for lessons with Freeride. They offer everything from gear hire to private surf and yoga packages, and you can expect to pay around 60 euros for a group lesson and 300 euros for a 6-day package. 

Wavy Surf Camp

For a unique and all-inclusive experience, Wavy Surf Camp is your go-to. While it’s more expensive than the others, you’ll not only get plenty of surf lessons at the best beaches, but you’ll also have the opportunity to go kayaking, snorkeling, skateboarding, and exploring the many coastal walks. You’ll stay in stunning glamping tents with endless ocean views and dine on fresh local food. It’s a true surfing vacation!

Best place to surf in Sagres for beginners

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As most surf spots in Sagres are beach breaks, waves are constantly changing on any given day. It takes a lot of insider knowledge, patience, and good luck to hunt down the best beginner beach each day. However, there are a few stunning beaches you can count on for great beginner waves.

For starters, if you’re ever in doubt, head south. The south coast is protected from high winds and big swells, making it a great spot to learn the basics of surfing without worrying about massive waves surprising you. Mareta beach is especially popular for beginners as it lies just south of town and is tucked between two peninsulas. All year-round, the waves are calmer here, and the protected waters are ideal for learning to paddle and spending hours out on the water.

Other beaches to test out are Martinhal, and Praia do Zavial, both on the south coast. You’ll likely find surf schools teaching lessons at both of these beaches along with other excited learners. They’re both great locations to test your skills without worrying about getting in the way of locals or having hoards of tourists watching.

If you’re unsure of where to head, visit a local surf shop, and they’ll point you in the right direction. As many of these beaches aren’t within walking distance of town, you’ll want to have your own vehicle if you’re not joining a surf class that arranges transportation.

Sagres surfing for experienced surfers

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If you’re ready to tackle larger waves, bypass the south coast and head west. Here, you’ll find more than your fair share of incredible surf spots and waves to suit all levels, from intermediate to expert.

A favorite of many is Tonel beach. With its exposed middle and protected sides, it sees a range of waves perfect for all-day fun. The beach is also incredibly scenic, and you’ll often find curious tourists watching locals play amongst the waves. Further afield are Carrapeteria and Bordeira beaches which offer some of the best surfing in all of the Algarve. It’s not unusual to see 8 to 10-foot waves in winter, with some even hollowing out.

Is Sagres good for surfing?

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Anyone who has been to Sagres will tell you it’s an excellent place for surfing. It’s one of those idyllic coastal towns, off-the-beaten-path just enough that it doesn’t see the crowds of tourists yet holds an authentic and lively atmosphere. With beaches stretching down both the south and west coasts, there are more than enough surf locations for locals and visitors to share without feeling crowded. On top of that, as each beach is angled slightly differently, no matter the weather and surf forecast, you’ll be able to find the perfect waves for your skills.

Sagres is also one of the sunniest parts of Portugal, and with a range of outdoor activities from hiking to paddle boarding, there truly is something for everyone. Go out for a morning surf, relax in the sun, grab a delicious lunch of fresh seafood, kayak crystal clear waters, then end your day with a sunset surf. Does life get better?

When is the Sagres surfing season?

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While it’s possible to surf all year round in Sagres, each season brings unique characteristics and styles of waves. Broadly speaking, summer sees flatter seas, and waves get bigger in the winter months. We’ve explained more below:

Summer – an ideal time for beginners to hit the waves. Temperatures are perfect for spending hours at a time in the water, with only a thin wetsuit. Beaches can become packed with keen beach-goers, though, and if you pick the wrong spot, you may be disappointed by flat seas.

Autumn – for those looking for consistently good waves and who don’t mind slightly cooler days, autumn is your go-to. As the temperatures drop, waves continue to get larger and larger across both coasts. No matter your skill level, it’s guaranteed you’ll find perfect waves in autumn.

Winter – while Sagres never gets too cold to surf, you will want a thick wetsuit and boots if you’ll be hitting the waves in winter. You’ll also want some decent surfing experience and to chat with a local surf shop before heading into the water. Waves can get gnarly without much warning, making it dangerous for beginners.

Spring – the season of change; in early spring, you can expect cool waters and big swells. Then, towards May, the weather stabilizes, and you’ll be rewarded with day after day of rideable waves. As the water hasn’t warmed up from the summer sun yet, you will want a thicker wetsuit and even boots in early spring.

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