First Stop: Surfing is no indoors sport (Portugal)

Actually I had a different intention. First destination on my time-out trip was Portugal. I had planned to take a step back from the daily grind and to improve my surfing in a technical and physical way for my Atlantic road trip. But the weather also exists.

Once again I went to Sintrasurf in the area of Sintra. Flights, accommodation, rental car and surf lessons had been booked and I dreamed of sunny days at the beach with up to two surf lessons per day.

The day of the departure came closer and also the related weather forecast.

First week weather forecast

And the forecast was right. And also the fact that surfing is no indoor sports. And thats exactly what I let myself in for. To let the weather and the waves be the only defining factors in my life. This first two weeks showed me in a nutshell what this means and I could learn to let the deep urge of ‚planning equals realization’ go. Nevertheless I had two weeks with unique moments and experiences and some maybe would not have been possible without the weather.

I lived in Azenhas do Mar, a village build directly on the cliff. A southern storm hit the coast and in the first days I couldn‘t even think of leaving the house. But fortunately it was possible to walk around in the fresh air in some rainless periods.

Azenhas do Mar

On the other hand it was a perfect situation to cool down and I accomplished my resolution to “step back” nearly on the fly.

The daily rhythm was determined by sleeping, reading and walking.

Praia Grande - Sintra

After three days the storm calmed down and finally I had some possibilities to surf. For the start I took the first two sessions at Magoito and Caxias, in order to familiarize with the sea again. On the third day we went to the Praia da Torre. And the spot was a big surprise. Because of the storm the sand banks has been shifted and the spot provided at low tide perfect right hander. Nearly as perfect as in a wave pool. I was able to enhance my technic in the long running and soft waves and it was just fun to catch one wave after the other.

On the afternoon I used the good weather for a trip to the end of our world, Cabo da Roca, the most western point of the European mainland.

Landmark at Cabo da Roca
Lighthouse Cabo da Roca

On the next day there was time for a little regeneration and I used it for a photo session with Nic who was surfing on his secret reef.

Nic on a secret reef

And then came one of the highlight-days of the trip. We drove to Peniche to surf in Baleal at the reef side of Lagide. The access to the clean left hander was easy and we shared the peak with only three locals. And then, after several good waves, there she was, my perfect never-ending best wave ever.

As the sets came less and the line up became more crowded we took our last wave and exited via the reef.

On the way back we visited the workshop of the board shaper Gato, who manufactured among others the Arial bodyboards. We discussed some details around a custom board for small to medium waves and I ordered it immediately. This will be the board for the smaller days on my Atlantic road trip.

And then the weather strikes again. A new storm hit the coast and I stopped surfing for another three days. I used the time for a little hike along the nearby coastline and, another highlight of this trip, for an excursion to Nazare. Michel and his Family had arrived in Sintra too and so we went together, one and a half hour to the lighthouse of Nazare to watch the forecasted 7-8 m swell directly at the spot. The wave over there is best known as big wave spot. Because of the underwater‘s structure’s specific character, under right conditions nature can generate gigantic waves here. This was not the case on our visit, but nevertheless the boiling sea with a lot of energy and force impressed us deeply. And not just us. The vista point was much visited by Sunday visitors and only emptied because of a heavy sleet shower.

Lighthouse Nazare

Finally on the last two days the weather showed mercy and in nearly summer-like conditions we could surf twice a day and had a lot of fun.


And then it was time to travel back. But the next adventures are right around the corner. And even if the weather conditions turned my expectations to the quantity of surfing down, the quality of the waves were so good, that two of them hit my personal top three of surfed waves. I was able to improve my surf-skills and had a lot of unforgettable moments. A big thank you to Nic from Sintrasurf for his patience and the tireless chase for the best waves. It is fascinating how he always finds the right spot at the right time.

Cheers, Thomas