Guide to Surfing in Sagres, Algarve Portugal

Exploring the Charms of Sagres

After five delightful years in Sagres, a quaint village nestled in nature with a population around 2,000, I can attest that surfing is the heartbeat of this coastal haven.

Beyond the essentials like supermarkets, restaurants, and accommodations, Sagres boasts surf camps, surf shops, and breathtaking views from Cape St. Vincent, the southwestern edge of continental Europe. A paradise for surfers and campervan enthusiasts, Sagres is the ultimate destination for those seeking waves.

Guide to Surfing in Sagres, Algarve Portugal
Guide to Surfing in Sagres, Algarve Portugal

If you crave a more vibrant nightlife, consider heading 30 km east to Lagos, a bustling town with diverse attractions. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike the Fishermen’s Trail, a 230 km path offering stunning views that passes through Sagres.

Embarking on Your Surfing Journey in Sagres

Driving through Sagres reveals a town where surf shops outnumber cafes. It’s an ideal place for beginners to catch the surfing bug, thanks to varied waves, warm weather, and numerous surf schools. Whether you opt for a 1, 3, or 5-day course, Sagres has several surf camps that cater to every level of expertise.

Surfing Essentials in Sagres

With around 10 surf shops lining the main road, Sagres ensures you’re well-equipped for your surfing venture. For a unique experience, try the restaurant on Tonel Beach offering board and wetsuit rentals along with lessons. Board rental starts at EUR10 per hour, wetsuit rental at EUR5 per hour, and a 3-hour lesson at EUR60.

Discovering the Waves in Sagres

Guide to Surfing in Sagres Tonel Beach
Guide to Surfing in Sagres Tonel Beach

Riding the Waves at Beliche Beach, Sagres

Beliche Beach stands out as the premier surfing spot in the area, attracting bodyboarders seeking its notable wedge. While it delivers impressive waves and occasional barrels in shallow waters, it’s not recommended for beginners. Weekdays offer a quieter experience, but weekends can get crowded if the conditions are right.

Optimal Surfing Season at Beliche Beach

Timing is crucial at Beliche, with the best surfing conditions from October to December, especially during significant south or NW swells.

Facilities at Beliche Beach

  • Beach – a sheltered sandy haven
  • Blue Flag beach
  • Toilets: available at the beach restaurant
  • Lifeguards: on duty during the season
  • Sunbeds: available during the season
  • Umbrellas: provided during the season
  • Parking: convenient parking facilities
  • Restaurants: options available during the season

Navigating to Beliche Beach

Guide to Surfing in Sagres Beliche Beach
Guide to Surfing in Sagres Beliche Beach

Driving is the preferred mode of transportation in Sagres. To reach Beliche Beach, head to the EN268 road, 3 km from Sagres center. The parking area is conveniently located, with Terra restaurant across the road. A short 5-minute drive or a 35-minute walk takes you to this surfing haven.

Experience the Allure of Praia do Tonel

Nestled beneath towering cliffs on Sagres’ west side, Tonel Beach offers a picturesque setting with soft golden sand, framed by red sandstone cliffs. Though known for strong currents and large winter waves, it remains sheltered from the north wind. The beach, within walking distance from Sagres, is a favorite among surfers, especially those in campervans. In summer, lifeguards keep a watchful eye, and caution is advised due to rocks in the water. A steep gravel road leads to the beach from the parking area.

Amenities at Praia do Tonel

Relax on the sandy expanse of Praia do Tonel while savoring delectable treats from the beach bar, offering burgers, toasties, coffee, and refreshing drinks. Adjacent to the bar, a surf shop provides rentals and lessons for those eager to ride the waves.

  • Beach – Enjoy a 400m stretch of sandy bliss
  • Blue Flag beach
  • Lifeguards: Ensuring safety by the shore
  • Sunbeds: Unwind without the need for sunbeds
  • Parking: Convenient parking facilities
  • Restaurant: Culinary delights at your fingertips
  • Surfboard Rental: Dive into the waves with ease

Navigating the Waves at Sagres – Praia do Tonel

Having immersed myself in the surfing culture of Sagres, I can vouch for Praia do Tonel as the primary surf spot, capturing the west swell from the Atlantic. The surrounding headlands temper the waves, creating a peaky beach break with both left and right-handers. On a stellar day, Tonel delivers powerful, hollow waves on its sandy bottom, attracting intermediate and advanced surfers, though it can get crowded.

Guide to Surfing in Sagres Praia do Tonel
Guide to Surfing in Sagres Praia do Tonel

Facing the ocean at Tonel, a rocky point to the right leads to a ‘hidden beach’ with a mellow wave in calmer conditions.

Optimal Surfing Conditions at Tonel, Sagres

Best Swell Direction – West and North West Swell: Tonel thrives on a big swell from the West or North West, offering ideal waves for surfing. It starts working at 1.0m-1.5m / 3ft-5ft and holds up well over 3m+ / 10ft+. Local windswells and distant groundswells contribute to the quality surf.

Wind direction: North East winds create optimal surf conditions.

Best Tide to Surf Tonel: Tonel is surfable at all tide levels.

Water Temperature at Tonel:

The water temperature ranges between 14C and 20C throughout the year. Despite the cool temperatures, a full-length 4/3mm suit is recommended for extended time in the water.

Surf Hazards at Tonel in Sagres

  • Watch out for strong rip currents.
  • Beware of rocks in the shallows.
  • Exercise caution around surf schools with large groups wearing matching rash vests.
  • Respect local surf etiquette and adhere to general surfing rules.

Exploring Praia do Tonel

While Praia do Tonel’s beauty is undeniable, spending the day here might not suit everyone. Ideal for strong swimmers, this less-crowded beach is sheltered by cliffs, offering a serene environment. Facilities are limited, and caution is advised due to strong currents. In addition to surfing, Tonel is perfect for diving, kite surfing, and wind surfing under favorable conditions.

Make sure to visit Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente), the most southwestern tip of continental Europe, just 6 km from Sagres. Marvel at the spectacular cliffs, ocean views, and the lighthouse marking what was once believed to be the end of the world.

Explore Fortaleza de Sagres, a sea fort with fortified walls and cliffs, providing protection and offering scenic sea views. Stroll along the fortress walls and enjoy a leisurely walk around the point of the cape.

Reaching Tonel Sagres

Navigating through the Algarve is a breeze, and for the best car rental deals, I recommend using Rentalcar. Head toward the Sagres fortress on N268 and turn right at the sign pointing to Praia do Tonel. The GPS coordinates for Sagres Tonel Parking will guide you to a convenient parking spot, or you can opt for parking near Mareta beach in town, just a 700m walk from Tonel.

Optimal Surfing Season at Tonel

Embrace winter for the ultimate surfing experience at Tonel, where clean waves from westerly swells prevail. December stands out as the month with the most rideable swell and favorable light/offshore or cross-offshore winds.

Praia da Mareta

Nestled in the heart of Sagres town, Praia da Mareta is a sprawling sandy haven enclosed by cliffs, providing protection from swell and wind. Ideal for families, this large beach offers calm conditions, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. While not always surfable, Mareta can produce delightful waves under the right conditions.

Facilities at Praia de Mareta

  • Beach – Enjoy a 700m stretch of sandy bliss
  • Blue Flag beach
  • Lifeguards: Ensuring safety by the shore
  • Sunbeds: Relax with available sunbeds
  • Umbrellas: Shade provided with umbrellas
  • Parking: Convenient parking facilities
  • Restaurants: Dining options available

Prime Surf Conditions at Praia da Mareta, Sagres

Best Swell Direction – South Swell: Mareta comes to life with a south swell, offering manageable waves. Small to medium swells, up to 1.5m, typically result in excellent surfing conditions.

Wind direction: Optimal waves are achieved with a North West wind.

Best Tide to Surf Tonel: Typically best from low to mid tide.

Water Temperature at Mareta:

Throughout the year, the water temperature ranges between 15C and 20C. Despite the cool temperatures, a full-length 4/3mm suit is recommended for extended time in the water.

Surf Hazards at Mareta Beach in Sagres

  • Watch out for rocks in the shallows on the sides of the beach.
  • Respect local surf etiquette and adhere to general surfing rules.

Exploring Praia da Mareta

Praia da Mareta, located within Sagres town, is an expansive, sheltered beach ideal for swimming and sunbathing. While surfing opportunities may be limited, Mareta invites water enthusiasts to engage in activities like diving, kayaking, SUP, and windsurfing under suitable conditions.

Getting to Praia da Mareta

To reach Praia da Mareta, drive toward the Sagres fortress on N268, turning left at the final circle. A spacious parking area with a stunning view of Mareta Beach awaits. Alternatively, use your GPS to locate parking across the road from the Mareta Beach Parking.

Surf Spots around Sagres

Sagres is surrounded by an array of fantastic surf spots within a 30-minute drive, making it the perfect base for a surfing adventure. While the west coast boasts consistent and heavy waves during winter, the south coast offers great beginner spots, although with less consistent conditions.

Surf the Algarve South Coast

Zavial – Experience a consistent, fast barreling point break and beach break with multiple peaks along the southern Algarve cliffs.

Porto de Mos (Lagos) – Enjoy the most consistent break in Lagos at the beautiful Porto de Mos beach, offering fun waves with South swell or large North West Swell.

Exploring the West Coast of Algarve for Surfing

Discover the surfing gems along the Algarve’s west coast for an unforgettable experience.

Beliche: A stone’s throw from Sagres, Beliche is a unique spot known for its wedge-shaped waves. With the right conditions, it creates beautiful, hollow waves in shallow waters, making it a favorite among bodyboarders. Just a 5-minute drive from Sagres.

Carrapateira: Nestled below scenic cliffs, Carrapateira is a stunning spot that attracts substantial swell, occasionally delivering heavy waves with hollow sections. This spot is best suited for experienced surfers and is approximately 20 km or a 20-minute drive from Sagres.

Praia de Arrifana: Offering an awesome and consistent experience, Praia de Arrifana is suitable for all skill levels. This beach break features numerous peaks and a fast point break with occasional hollow sections. Located about 50 minutes away, it provides a diverse surfing environment.

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