South Coast Surf Shops’ team rider John Norris is at it again. Here’s his account of a short trip to Portugal, the place he has come to know as the land of Hospitality, and epic sandbar wedges.
Surfing in Portugal
When I think of Portugal, one word comes to mind– hospitality. I’ve never in my life experienced such welcoming and friendly people. My trip to Portugal was a short one, but I think its almost better that way, only giving me a little taste of a country I now need to go back to and explore its entirety.
Only a couple days before I had arrived, I had no plans. I’d heard rumors of long points and dredging beachbreaks, wedgy coves and shallow slabs. This place seemed like the holy grail. Unfortunately there was no swell on the horizon but I didn’t care, I live for getting lost in unfamiliar countries. I was going.
A friend originally from Portugal who now lives in La Jolla found out I was going to Lisbon, messaged a friend and told him I was coming and wanted to surf. This is where the hospitality began. Without ever meeting the guy in my life, Tomas Valente messaged me and told me he could meet up the afternoon I arrived for a surf, and had a board that I could borrow for the time I was there. I rented a car and started the drive over to his house about a half hour away– if you know the roads that is. Not speaking the language and furthermore not understanding the street signs, I was lost. What should’ve been a thirty minute drive turned into an hour and a half, but eventually I made it. With a quick handshake to Tomas and his friend Diogo, these guys treated me like family.
We made our way to a beach named Guincho, a wedgy beachbreak nestled inside of a wind-sheltered cove. We see a couple of wedges and Tomas decides this is probably our best bet for the day. Keep in mind that there’s no swell in the water, but somehow with the way Portugal sticks out into the ocean, there are chest high wedges coming in. We surfed for about an hour, the tide got too high and it was time to move on to another wave. A five minute drive and we got to another playful beachbreak named Cresmina. Surfed again for about an hour and a half and we were beat. We head back to Tomas’ house and call it a day. He immediately asks if I wanted to surf again tomorrow and I gladly said yes.
The next day, there was a little bit of a south swell in the water so we decided to go a bit further to a wave called Praia Grande. There was a running left sandbar that would peel for a little over 50 yards with nobody out and we were on it. A couple hours later and a handful of great rides later, we were beat. It was time to say our goodbyes and start my journey home already. I told you it was short– but so well worth it. Everyone needs to give Portugal a try.
Photos: John Noris Portugal Surfing