A package holiday haven and a hotspot for backpackers, this Mediterranean enclave in the Atlantic is also a swell rich area of coastline and has a lot of options for wind and size.
The Algarve has two coasts, a south and a west; the surfable south coast stretches from Lagos to Cape St Vincent before it turns north where the western facing coast stretches up to Arifana.
What sort of waves will I find?
The Algarve has a great variety of waves in a short area. Arifana on the west coast has a decent beach break which provides some shelter from northerly winds, it also has a right point which doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clear the rocks till about 4-6ft, but will keep holding size right up to 15ft. The rest of the west coast is a combination of quality beach breaks and points. Most of the points take a bit of finding and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going to spoil your fun here (but do check them out) whilst the best beachies are at Carrapateira and Cordama. When the swell is too big for the west or the swell is from the south then the south coast is the place to head to. In the far west are quality waves at Beliche and Tonel, they are decent waves and hence get busy and there is some localism - itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not bad but do show respect. Between Sagres and Lagos there are a number of beachies and reefs the most popular being Zavial.
Where does the swell come from and when is best to go?
The west facing beaches of the Algarve are one of the most consistent swell receivers on the planet; north, west and southerly swells all touch down on this stretch of coast. Autumn and winter are obviously the best times to go although youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be very unlucky not to get any swell if you spent a week on the Algarve at any time of year.
What else is there to do?
The Algarve is a stunning area, the west coast is wild and rugged and great for walking and mountain biking. The south coast is littered with tourist developments so all the usual trappings exist. Lagos is a great place to be based and is a bustling town with excellent night life and food and is only 30 minutes from the west coast.
How do I get there and where do I stay?
Faro is the main city in the south of Portugal and with the Algarve being a major tourist destination, flights arrive daily from pretty much every airport in the UKLagos, is an excellent option. Their experience and four wheel drives will put you on the spot in all swell conditions. and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cheap to get there too! Staying in the area is easy, you could book independent accommodation and rent a car, though with some spots hard to get to, travelling with someone like the surf experience based in
Will I score uncrowded world class waves?
Possibly. The main spots always have a pack on them when they are on, but the sheer expanse of the west coast means there is almost always a lonely peak with your name on it waiting to be found.