I love swimming and I love the water. So after doing SUP, scuba diving and being in a swimming team, I wanted to learn something new. That’s why my boyfriend and I decided to learn surfing in the Algarve. I went windsurfing with my brother once, but surfing without a sail was something completely different, which I found out in Portugal…
So our route started in Faro which is situated at the south coast of Portugal. From there we drove all along the way to the west coast passing the bigger cities Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos – until we finally arrived in a little town near Sagres.
I’ve read that around Sagres you find the best surf spots and the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. That’s why we decided to stay at the western Algarve to learn surfing.
Best location for surfing in the Algarve
The Algarve has plenty of good beaches that offer the perfect waves for beginners. So on our trip we’ve seen lots of surf spots, but the Praia do Castelejo near the little town Vila do Bispo was by far the best one. Vila do Bispo is located at the south-west coast of Portugal in the Algarve and is not touristic at all. It takes less than 10 minutes to get from there to the beach Praia do Castelejo by car.
Due to the rock cliffs at the end of the beach, the waves easily break there, so that beginners will find it easy to surf. At this beach you will also find several surf classes which is another indication for a good beginner’s surf spot.
But the most important thing was the almost empty beach – and this in a vacation month like August which is also the best month for surf beginners by the way. Although there were lots of surf classes at the same time, it was still possible to alternate with each other. So for example, when the classes had a break, we got into the water. When they came back surfing, it was our turn to rest a little. That way, we managed it to take the best out of the waves without any distractions.
So if you ever want to try surfing in Europe, go to the little Portuguese town Vila do Bispo and choose the beach Praia do Castelejo. It’s one of the best surf spots in the Algarve.
Best accommodation for surfing
Vila do Bispo has not much to offer. You find there a handful of restaurants and a big supermarket – not more. I think, that’s the reason why not many tourists come to this little town with only 5.000 inhabitants. But at the same time, I loved it. So if you’re like me and you want to stay somewhere far away from the big mass, go there and you will have a wonderful vacation.
The hostel and guesthouse Good Feeling makes it even more fantastic. The place where my boyfriend and I stayed is located at the main road and thus easy to access. You will also find there a bus station just 2 minutes from the hostel going to the bigger cities Sagres and Lagos.
But the best of all is that the hostel is so different to the other hostels I’ve been so far. It has a beautiful swimming pool, a beach volleyball field, several hammocks to chill out and a lounge outside to spend a wonderful evening with other people. Even families love the hostel which is the reason why you find so many children there, as well.
The Good Feeling
It’s no wonder that the hostel is so popular. Besides the beautiful hostel facility, you can book or rent lots of stuff there. Here I made a list of what the Good Feeling has to offer:
- Free beach transfer to the Praia do Castelejo (at 11am)
- Surf lessons (60€)
- Surfboard & wetsuit rentals (15+5€)
- Stand-up paddling tour (50€)
- Yoga (10€)
- Dinner (also vegetarian available) & breakfast all day (8€/4€)
- A kitchen to cook for yourself
- Airport transfer (27€ p.p. one way, must be booked at least 48 hours in advance)
We didn’t rent a car, so for us the free beach transfer was worth a mint. From the beach transfer to the surfing class to the rental – everything worked out very well. And even as we cancelled one of the two surf lessons we had booked (because after one lesson we wanted to try it out by ourselves), they cancelled it for us without a hitch. So we felt very welcome and never had a feeling of discomfort.
If you would rather like to stay in a hotel or in another area, use the search box below to find the best hotel deals.
Surfing for beginners
As I just mentioned, we booked two surf lessons directly at the hostel, but cancelled one. It has two simple reasons. On the one hand, we knew the basics of surfing after the first surf lesson.
On the other hand, we found out where the best and nearest surf spot for beginners was.
So on our second day, we decided to rent the surfboard and wetsuits from the hostel and took the beach transfer to the Praia do Castelejo to surf for ourselves. It worked very well, because my boyfriend and I helped each other, so that we managed it to surf on the smaller waves without falling into the water.
Of course, it sounds easier now than it actually was. But believe me, it took me a while until I could stand on the board for a few seconds. Before, I fell a thousand times and even got a bump on my head with the surfboard! But even if you get disappointed after a while, the most important thing is that you go on and on and on and try over and over again. Only by doing this, you will find out how it works and how fun it can be.
Although I recommend doing at least one surf lesson as a beginner, here is a little guide and some tips of how to start surfing: Before you go into the water, you need to find out what your takeoff leg is. This is important, because when you jump on the board, this leg will stand in the back. It’s also the leg where you put on the surfboard leash around your ankle.
After a little warm up, go into the water and wait for a good wave. If there is one coming, lay on the board and push your upper body up, so you can control the waves better and get ready for the stand up.
Pull your takeoff leg (the one with the leash) to your body and jump on the board.
Don’t let go off the board until you find the right balance to stand and feel stable on it.
Make sure that you stay in squatting position and your body and legs show to the side. Only your head should show to the front.
This is it pretty much. That are the basics you need to know when you go surfing. After starting surfing in the Algarve, I’m really into it now. Here in Munich we have a natural wave where I can learn. But I’m already planning to go to Hawaii and Bali next year to try it again at some other places to see how it works there. For now, I’m just happy that I tried out this new thing and that it was so much fun. I’m also glad that nothing bad happened (except the bump).
So you can be sure, there will be a next time and definitely a next surfer’s guide!
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