Portugal – The Wave Garden

Hey there, a few things have happened since our last post. Most shocking is the sale of the (t)rusty Bedford, this was no easy decision but she is still in the family with my dad looking after her. We traded her in for slightly more modern van which I will introduce to you all when I have completed the finishing touches. She is awesome though! Most exciting is our little family trip to Portugal.

We stayed in Lagos which was chosen by Louise’s mum as it offered good villas, good amenities and close enough for a few cheeky surf trips for me – although these weren’t all that successful as you will find out! This wasn’t an out an out surf trip but more of a villa holiday with a sprinkling of sup.

 

We opted to not take our own boards as board carriage isn’t cheap and the hassle of getting the boards to and from the airport with 6 non surfers in tow seemed too big of a ask. We did some research and found about three options for hiring when we were out there. I was looking for a performance surf sup to rival my own boards. The first shop we tried was situated on a beach a 5 minute drive from our villa. There website listed the starboard pocket rocket and seven eleven as being part of their quiver. This was not the case, disappointment number one. Although the pocket rocket took pride of place at the front of the hut this was the owners private board and not for rental. The workers were super helpful though and gave me contact details of a guy who hires out performance surf sups. We hired some boards for an hour anyway to explore the coast with the family. This was the first major shock 15 euros an hour!! For some budget beaten up beginner boards with no safety instruction to boot. This wasn’t the most expensive hire we saw that week either. It must just be fad of the year as the same shops were hiring out good quality shortboards and longboards for 15 euros a day. I know sups are more expensive but this was ridiculous!

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Anyway, we spent the rest of the day enjoying the south coast beaches around Lagos taking in some incredible scenery and crystal clear waters. We made plans to head west via the recommended sup hire shop to find some waves. We found plenty! We stopped off to collect our boards I opted for a 9’1 redwood paddle sup which was good quality surf sup with low rails and around 120L volume. We also hired some surf boards for the family who have surfed before but not consistently. This is were things went a bit down hill. We got some advice on were would be good to go from the owner. We opted for Praia Casteljo, as we drove down the coastal roads a dense fog rolled in and for the first hour on the beach we couldn’t see more than 50 – 75 m but could hear the distinct rumble of the waves. As the fog cleared we were greeted by some monstrous waves easily 15-20 ft which were breaking then reforming around 6-8 ft before turning to white water where the surf schools were. There was an immense  rip from the center of the bay to either side making it unpleasant for the learners with us but they still went for it. I was daunted by the huge monsters behind me but opted to try and ride a few of the reforms. I caught a few but also ate a lot of sand! We decided to leave this beach and head to a different beach with smaller waves to give everyone a chance at catching some waves.

We headed to Beliche it was here we spent a few hours catching some clean shore breaks and sank a few beers for those not in the water. After spending a good afternoon on the water and a few newbies catching the surf bug we took the boards back. This is when disappointment two took place. We arrived at the shop and were asked to wash the boards off which we did. The owner then accused of damaging one of the surf boards. We hadn’t hit any rocks or anything hard. the worst that had happened was some shore break wipeouts. This shouldn’t have caused the damage he was suggesting we made. Naively we never took photos or even a mental note of the condition of the board when we hired it. The owner then made calls to a ‘repair man’ who quoted him over the phone 60+ euros which he wanted us to pay! He said we were welcome to take the board to get fixed ourselves but with no local knowledge and a language barrier we felt stuck. He had our ID’s as deposit too. So with some negotiating and some confused expressions we paid him an additional 50 euros on top of the 85 euros to hire three boards for a day. I am sure this was a con and it must of happened to others before us. Any way it put me off hiring for the rest of the week, I’ll be taking my own boards on any holiday now. I’m planning on writing some travel mini blogs soon including tips for renting abroad and a cool little bike mounted sup rack I built, so keep an eye out!

Its hard to stay annoyed in a place like this:

I spent some time in the week scoping out other spots and found some incredible breaks including Zevial and Ingrina. Two picturesque beaches with a dedicated scene of locals and a few surf tourists. Sagres also offered some good looking peaks. With nothing between Portugal and the Americas, it is a swell and wind magnet! We already have plans to road trip here next summer with our own boards! Portugal is an incredible place being host to the spot were the worlds biggest wave was surfed, Nazare, it was always going to offer some good waves and next time I am going to go back some for real dedicated wave time!

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