Everything you need to know about surfing in Ericeira
Ericeira is seen as the surfing capital of Portugal and offers an impressive variety of surf spots, crammed into just a few kilometers of coast. In 2011 Ericeira was chosen the first World Surfing Reserve in Europe. Although most of the famous surf breaks in Ericeira have a rock bottom, the surf spot in front of Ericeira Surf House is a beach break that is perfect for beginners.
If you have never surfed before, the beaches south of Ericeira are the place to be. Foz do Lizandro and São Julião are typical beach breaks and perfect for beginners. Praia do Sul also provides some beginner possibilities if the conditions are right. Both Foz do Lizandro and Praia do Sul are within walking distance from Ericeira Surf House.
Intermediates can have fun on the beach breaks mentioned above, but they can also choose for the famous and super consistent reef break Ribeira d’Ilhas. But also breaks such as Matadouro are perfect to improve your level of surfing.
For experienced surfers, Ericeira and surroundings is like heaven on earth. They can choose from over 15 surf spots in just 8 kilometers of coastline, with the world famous long and hollow wave of Coxos as the highlight. But also the barrels of Pedra Branca, Backdoor, Reef and Crazy Left offer a good challenge for even the most experienced surfers.
And don’t forget to explore further up and down the coast as well. If you drive 20 kilometers north, you’ll find the beautiful beach breaks of Santa Cruz and Praia Azul. The famous beach breaks of Peniche are also just an hour drive from Ericeira. To the south, you have Praia do Magoito, Praia Grande and Praia do Guincho. You can even venture further south towards Carcavelos beach and the other surf spots along the Lisbon coast. This is also the place to go when the western swells are too big for the west coast.
The Best Time to Surf in Ericeira
What is the best time to surf Ericeira for your surf level?
Although Ericeira is a year-round destination for surfers, the best surf conditions for your level of surfing depend a lot on the time of the year. The winter season brings bigger swells and colder temperatures, where the summer season is very sunny with smaller waves. Spring and autumn are right in between those two, with favourable wind conditions in autumn, but less crowds in spring. Below you can find all the information about when is the best time for surfing Ericeira for your level. But of course, this is just a general outline. You can also have great days for advanced surfers in the summer and perfect mellow intermediate waves in the winter.
Complete beginners can find good conditions year-round. Since Ericeira has such a great diversity of waves, there is always a surf spot that offers good waves for beginner surf lessons. In summer the best conditions are normally at the beach breaks, where in winter the harbour is often the best place to go. Spring and autumn can have good conditions anywhere, also on the mellow reef breaks. If you are coming to Ericeira not just to learn surfing, but also to enjoy nice weather, then the best time is from May to September.
For advanced beginners the best time to surf Ericeira is usually from May to September when the waves are smaller and more forgiving. October, November and April can also provide good conditions, but the waves in the winter months are often too rough. Since advanced beginners are most dependent on having the right conditions in order to be able to paddle out in the line-up, timing and surf spot selection is very important.
Beginning intermediates will find the best conditions around the summer months, so from June to September. For advanced intermediates the best conditions are often more towards the spring and autumn. Advanced intermediates can also get really good waves on the smaller winter days. And if you have a rental car and you don’t mind driving a bit up or down the coast, all intermediates can find great conditions any time of the year.
For advanced surfers the period between September and April is the best time to travel. If you are looking for offshore winds and big swell, November to February is the best, while September and October are famous for the least wind and cleanest conditions. In the winter months, it’s also quite common to have weeks with too big swells and stormy conditions. In that case you can still find good waves around Peniche or Lisbon. In the summer months the waves are usually too small to challenge the advanced surfers.
The most consistent surf spot of southern Europe
Ericeira is a very consistent year-round surf destination. With a swell consistency of minimal 56%, it’s actually the most consistent surf spot in Southern Europe. Hossegor in France for example has a minimal consistency of 41%, Zarautz in Spain 42% and Sagres/Carrapateira in the Algarve 47%. This makes Ericeira your best bet, especially in the summer. It only happens a couple of days a year that the waves are too small to surf. In the summer months, the majority of waves are formed by wind swells, while from October to May it is from ground swells.
What wetsuit do I need to wear?
In this part of the Atlantic you basically always need to wear a wetsuit. The water around Ericeira is cooler than for example in France or Spain during the summer months. A 3/2 (mm) wetsuit is enough from June to October. During the other months, you should go for a 4/3. In the winter booties and/or a hood can be pleasant. The water temperature can change rapidly depending on the cold ocean current that hits Ericeira from time to time. You can experience different ocean temperatures even if you only stay for a short period of time. Summers can therefore also have lower water temperatures then shown in the chart. The chart is just a general recommendation. If you are planning to take just one wetsuit, a 4/3 is definitely your best bet year-round.
The best way to improve your surfing
The best and safest way to improve your surfing is by taking surf lessons. Local surf schools know exactly when and where to be, so you will get most out of your surf trip. The strict laws make the quality of teaching in Portugal one of the best, with small groups, good equipment, qualified teachers and well-organized lessons. In Ericeira the quantity of surf schools per beach is regulated, so that the crowds are spread accordingly.
Our surf school checks the conditions day by day and decides where to go based on what we see and what the forecast shows. This way you will always surf the best possible conditions for your level of surfing. We offer surf lessons for all levels from beginner to pro. All our instructors are qualified and the head coaches are also life guards, born and raised in Ericeira. We offer transport between the surf house and the beaches for the lessons, so you don’t need to worry about getting to the beach. Our surf equipment can also be used outside the lessons hours if you feel like surfing more.
Below you can find more information about the different levels of surfing.
Surf level 1 -
Level 1 surf lessons are for people who have never surfed before or have very little experience. On the beach and in the forgiving whitewater you learn the basics of surfing. We teach you how to catch waves and stand up on your own, with the correct technique in order to progress onto catching unbroken waves.
Surf level 2 - Advanced beginner
Level 2 is for people with a couple of weeks experience. These lessons can be either in the whitewater or on the unbroken waves depending on the conditions. You’ll learn how to select and catch waves unassisted, how to steer your surfboard and how to stall and accelerate. You also learn to paddle through the white water efficiently and understand the surf etiquette.
Surf level 3 - Beginning intermediate
Level 3 surfers can comfortably stand on the board and will focus on improving the surf technique on unbroken waves. Once you have an understanding of how to paddle out past the broken waves, you will learn how to position yourself in the line-up and how to select the best waves. You will improve your basic understanding of turning and down the line surfing.
Surf level 4 - Advanced intermediate
Once you are fully capable of surfing alone, but would like to build upon your current skill set, you are ready for level 4. This level is about performing technical maneuvers in the critical part of the wave. To name a few: cutbacks, floaters and tight pocket turns.
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Is Ericeira a good place for wind- or kitesurfing?
Although Ericeira is a great spot for surfing, you don’t see many wind- or kitesurfers. The prevailing northern winds offer good possibilities, but only for experienced wind- or kitesurfers. The waves are often too big for surfers with less experience, especially in the winter months. Foz do Lizandro however is a great beach for kitesurfing during the summer months and on the days with less swell. Experienced windsurfers like the conditions at Matadouro, also for wave-sailing. And with a car you can easily go to the famous Guincho beach (45-minute drive) or to spots such as Cascais (45 min), Costa da Caparica (Praia da Rainha), Fonte da Telha (60 min) or Peniche (60 min).
More information about surfing in Ericeira
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THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT SURF RULES EXPLAINED
For surfers and for people starting to surf, it’s very important to know the basic surf rules, also called surf etiquette. Although surfing in general is quite a mellow sport, it can be very dangerous if the rules are not followed, especially since the lineups have become more and more crowded everywhere. The surf rules below have been developed for the safety and respect of everyone. Make sure you know and apply them!
WORLD SURFING RESERVE ERICEIRA - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Have you ever looked at something and thought; ‘I hope they never change this’? Maybe you even thought that while standing on top of the surf beach Ribeira d’Ilhas looking out over the ocean, seeing the waves break over the sand, rocks and reefs beneath them. Well, if that’s the case: good news, because Ericeira is a World Surfing Reserve!