Where to Surf in the Algarve
The southernmost region in Portugal is known as the Algarve; a popular area along the coast that is best known for being a primary destination for beach holidays. All of this stunning coastline also means that watersports are a very popular choice for those visiting the area, and surfing is one of the activities that this part of the country has become pretty well known for.
Surfing in the Algarve is accessible for all levels of ability, whether you’re a seasoned pro seeking new places to get out on your board, or a beginner who’d like to try to sport whilst staying in this region on holiday in Portugal. Whatever kind of surfing experience you’re looking for, this guide to where to surf in the Algarve will tell you everything you need to know about the best beaches to visit to enjoy the activity.
When’s the Best Time to Surf in the Algarve?
The best time to surf in the Algarve really depends on your level of experience and the kinds of water conditions you’re hoping for.
If you’re a beginner surfer or someone with no experience at all, the best time to surf in the Algarve is between June and September. The weather will be hot and quite calm, and whilst there will still be good enough waves to get to grips with surfing, you’re not in danger of any wild conditions or potentially hazardous winds or storms.
On the flip side, if you’re an experienced surfer seeking big waves and impressive swells, you’ll find the best surf in Algarve between September and April. Whilst the weather will be colder than over the summer months, conditions are still relatively mild so you’ll be very comfortable staying out in the water for an hour or two if you’re wearing a wetsuit.
The 12 Best Surf Beaches in the Algarve
Praia da Arrifana
One of the best beaches in the Algarve, and therefore one of the most popular places to surf, is Praia da Arrifana. Located on the northwest coast of the region near the village of Arrifana, this is an incredibly pretty stretch of coastline that is relatively sheltered from the elements, making it a great choice for less confident or experienced surfers.
In order to access this popular Algarve surf spot, you’ll have to make your way down a thin, steep road on foot, as vehicles are banned from driving here. The views and weather conditions are well worth the walk down from the cliff tops however, and you can reward yourself after the walk back up with a trip to one of the cafes or bars in Arrifana.
Praia do Zavial
Praia do Zavial is found on the south coast of the Algarve, accessed by a path down from the cliffs that leads you to a lovely expanse of golden sand. Cliffs partly shelter this beach from any severe weather conditions, but whilst the swells here tend to be on the tamer side, it is also known for its excellent long and tubular waves.
The soft sand and safe swimming conditions mean that this is quite a popular beach, so be sure to arrive early if you want to secure a space in the parking area near the top of the footpath leading down to the sand. Nearby facilities are quite limited, so pack yourself a picnic and enjoy spending a full day here on the sand and out in the water.
Praia do Tonel
Ponta de Sagres juts out of the southwesterly tip of the Algarve, and right alongside this is Praia do Tonel. This is one of the most popular Algarve surf spots for enthusiasts seeking more exciting water conditions, as the coastline is totally exposed to the elements and therefore sees plenty of dramatic wave action, especially in the winter.
The remote location of this beach means that the scenery is more rugged than some of the other Algarve surf spots on this list, but this only adds to the atmosphere if you’re visiting on a day when the weather is blustery. It’s not really a beach for families, but if you’re after some seriously good surfing then there’s no better place to visit.
Praia do Beliche
The cliffs of Cabo Sao Vicente are quite a well-known attraction in the Algarve, and Praia do Beliche is found just south of these. The town of Beliche is about 3km away, but it’s definitely worth the journey if you’re after stunning coastal scenery and a historic location; the beach was the starting point of some of Portugal’s most significant voyages during the Age of Discoveries between the 1400s and 1600s.
If you’re looking for somewhere relatively calm for Algarve surfing then this is a great place to spend your time, as the nearby cliffs provide some shelter and create manageable waves that are great for getting to grips with your board. There are lifeguards stationed at the beach in the summer and when the tide goes out there is plenty of golden sand left exposed, which means the beach can get fairly busy.
Praia do Amado
South of Carrapateira on the western coast is the Praia do Amado. This is one of the best beaches in the Algarve for all levels of surfing ability, which means that it also tends to be one of the busiest during the summer months.
If you’re looking for lessons from a surfing school then you’ll find several great options that teach their lessons on the Praia do Amado. It’s a pretty large beach that can be accessed by several different footpaths, so even on warmer days you’re usually able to find a quiet spot if you walk for several minutes away from the crowds.
Praia do Castelejo
If you’re looking for a quieter place for Algarve surfing, Praia do Castelejo is a great spot to visit. Known for its brilliant fishing opportunities as well as its surfing ones, this beach is located on the Atlantic Coast in the west of the region, and has more rugged scenery than that you’ll find in the more polished, touristy beaches to the south. Its most iconic feature is the black schist cliffs, which contrast very starkly with the pale gold sand.
Despite its lesser-known status, you’re likely to be one of many surfers enjoying this large beach and the waves that it overlooks. Waves can be very high and the current can be strong, but there are often lifeguards on duty during the peak holiday season who can advise you of when the water is safe and also point out any rocks that could cause problems below the surface.
Praia de Amoreira
Praia da Amoreira is a huge beach in the west of the Algarve, close to the coastal village of Aljezur. The sand begins alongside the mouth of the Aljezur River and carries on wrapping around the coast, flanked by a black rock formation on the northern side of the beach that legend says is the form of a sleeping giant.
This is certainly one of the most beautiful Algarve surf spots, even if the conditions are more suited to those who enjoy calmer waters. The large size of this beach means that it rarely gets crowded, so it’s a wonderful place to come for the day and try a little bit of surfing, as well as paddling in the lagoon when the tide is out or enjoying walking across the soft, yellow sand.
Praia do Monte Clérigo
You’ll find Praia do Monte Clérigo on the northwestern coast of the Algarve, which is a prime spot for surfing beginners. The scenery here has the same rugged charm as many of the other beaches found within the Vicentine Coast Natural Park, but the cliffs at either end mean that the water conditions and waves are anything but wild.
Praia do Monte Clérigo’s remote location means that it’s a beach that hasn’t undergone much development as a tourist attraction, so it’s ideal for visitors that like to experience outdoor spaces that are untouched by human influence. There are enough facilities that make this a great place to spend the whole day however, and in the summer months there are lifeguards supervising the area and ensuring that nobody gets in trouble when they’re out on the water.
Praia do Cordoama
If you’re looking for recommendations for the best beaches in the Algarve, Praia do Cordoama often comes at the top of the list for the most beautiful places. Located on the west coast of the region, it’s a huge stretch of sand that is backed by several cliffs and treated to pretty wild water conditions, making it a fantastic place to visit if you’re an experienced surfer.
Some of the best surfing in the Algarve happens off the shore of Praia do Cordoama, so you can expect to see plenty of other enthusiasts out in the water when the weather is good. The scenery here is also gorgeous, with dark, towering cliffs contrasting against the pale gold sand, so it’s also a great place for a walk if you want to admire the dramatic coastal landscapes in this part of the region.
Praia de Odeceixe
The final recommendation for the best surf beaches in Algarve is Praia de Odeceixe which is part of the Costa Vicentina natural park in Aljezur. This beach is quite unusual, as the Ribeira de Seixe River flows almost all the way around it in a horseshoe shape and creates a lagoon that is brilliant for swimming and surfing.
Praia de Odeceixe is a very popular place for surfing in the Algarve, but remains a location that never feels overly crowded, despite its small size. There are impressive cliffs and rock formations all around the beach and the sand is very clean and soft, making it a perfect place to bring children and spend the whole day enjoying the sunshine and getting to grips with your surfboard.
Praia do Martinhal
Praia do Martinhal is another relatively large beach on the west coast of the Algarve, located just to the east of the popular village of Sagres which sits right on the edge of the coast. It’s known for the small islets called the Ilhotes do Martinha which are reachable by boat and offer several limestone caves and grottos that are great for swimming and snorkelling expeditions.
This beach is found within the Bay of Baleeira, so the water conditions are quite calm because of how it is sheltered. However, it is known for being quite a windy spot in the Algarve, so bear this in mind when you’re out in the water. It’s a good beach for beginner surfers, and also has the benefit that its large size means it very rarely gets crowded.
Praia de Faro
Named after the nearby capital city of the Algarve, Praia de Faro is an incredibly popular beach for surfers, swimmers and sunbathers. It’s located on the Península do Ancão which is an island accessed by a thin bridge and is about 5km long, so even in the height of summer you’re bound to find a spot to set up camp on the sand.
The waves near this beach are known for being strong, so although these surfing conditions aren’t very predictable, there will be days when there’s enough of a swell to get out and really enjoy the water with your board. It’s quite a commercial beach however, so is an Algarve surf spot that is more suited to visitors wanting to give the sport a go, instead of committed enthusiasts.
Surfing is a fantastic sport, whether you take it up as a regular hobby or just enjoy giving it a go when you’re on holiday. The Algarve is a brilliant destination for beginner surfers in particular thanks to the huge range of beaches around the coast and numerous surfing schools, so if you’re planning a visit to this region then we’d definitely recommend visiting one of the beaches we’ve listed above and giving it a go.
Is there surfing in Albufeira?
Yes, there are lots of opportunities for surfing in Albufeira. It’s actually known as one of the best places to surf in Portugal for beginners, with a range of beaches to choose from and a mix of calm conditions and a couple more challenging swells.
Is there surfing in Lagos, Portugal?
Yes, there is plenty of surfing in Lagos. It’s actually one of the most popular places to surf in Europe that still has something of an ‘undiscovered’ status, so it’s a great place to visit if you’re seeking beautiful beaches and brilliant surfing without too many crowds.