Portugal frees your mind. Dramatic coastlines with deep blue waves crashing against cliffs. The fine sand on the side of the streets give you feeling of being home. As soon as we passed the sign of Peniche we started smiling and got excited about the week to come. Surfing in Peniche – It’s on!
The following guide to Peniche covers everything you need to know from when to go, where to go and the most important surf spots. Beyond that, I will also give some options of surf-alternatives and an estimation on what you will approximately spend.
Surfing in Peniche – When and who?
In May I spoke with a friend about a surf trip this summer. After evaluating we decided in favour of Portugal! First off, what bothered me before booking the flights? How are the waves in July?!
Waves break in Portugal throughout the year. Certainly, during European summer the wave machine is not switched on yet. Neither in Morocco, nor Spain. As well the Algarve can have weeks with hardly any surfable waves. Peniche seems to be a safest bet. Some spots (more on spots later) are extremely exposed and still get waves when all other spots are flat like a lake.
The biggest and best waves roll in during the European fall and winter. In this time of the year the Ripcurl Pro Portugal takes place at Supertubos, with massive barrels breaking in Peniche. On almost all other spots you have wave guarantee here and can surf your brain out.
From October onwards you don’t need to worry about waves anymore. You will find plenty!
Summer, which tends to be the time of the year with the smallest waves, is perfectly suited for beginners. However, intermediates can improve their surfing in this time of the year, too.
October – March: Biggest swell, best waves, perfectly suited for intermediates and experts (depending on the spot). The wave season slowly start in September, from October onwards, almost every spot is working.
April – September: More Inconsistent and smaller waves. Perfect for beginners as well as intermediates.
We, two intermediates, went to Peniche in mid July, during wave low season and we have been in the water 6 out of 7 days. Not too bad, right? In fairness, waves haven’t been perfectly shaped and we also needed to escape to Praia d’el Rei, the swell magnet, once but we had a couple of great days and surely will come back.
Unique for me personally is the great location of Peniche and the Baleal peninsula (what a beautiful place!). Long beaches give you many options of surf spots and cliffs protect certain beaches from winds that might ruin your session. Thus, even with strong winds (North winds are predominant during the European summer) you can still have insanely fun sessions in the cold Atlantic.
What you need to know before leaving to Peniche
Prior our arrival we thought that we will spend most of our time on the beach in Peniche. This was not entirely correct as the beaches and surf spots are rather located in the Baleal area and a stone’s throw south from Peniche itself. We’ve just been on Peniche itself for buying groceries.
After arriving in Peniche area you are in the great position to be surrounded by surf spots, with individual pros and cons. I will discuss them later in detail. Make sure to take a bit and drive around to explore your new neighbourhood while. This makes it easier to check waves in the next morning.
What to do in Peniche?
Peniche is a surf Mecca, that’s for sure. We visited the Portuguese town during wave “off season” and have been able to surf every day. Beside enjoying the great vibe the town certainly has, there are a couple of other things to do. Let’s jump into surf alternatives in case your muscles are sore, or there is a lay day due to bad conditions.
The scenery is especially breath-taking and illuminated in a magical orange, right after sunrise and one hour before sunset. If you like to take photos, you will have a lot of fun during these times of the day on and around the Baleal peninsula.
We stayed in the fabulous “Ananas Surfhouse” which offered a tennis court for guests free of charge. In the morning where we didn’t find waves to surf we were happy to have this option in order to do some physical activity even without the wave machine switched on. Even if you don’t stay at the Ananas Surfhouse, I am sure you will find different places with tennis courts.
The bicycle lanes are in great condition so it’s awesome to get with a longboard from A to B. From Baleal you can easily drive a handful of kilometres to Peniche without any effort as it goes slightly downhill. Hopefully you got a good friend with a car, to pick you up again!
Gali, the girlfriend of our host at the Ananas Surf House makes incredible Humus. Luckily she’s willing to share the secret. She offers courses on how to make her chickpea specialty.
Socializing! The supermarket just beside the famous “Peniche Surfcamp” has great happy hours (2 beers for 1€) in the afternoon. So check them out and get start philosophizing about waves with surfers from all over the world and exchange adventures. You might get inspired for the next trip. Mexico? Nicaragua? Sri Lanka?
Don’t forget to visit Óbidos! The medieval town is definitely worth a visit. Perhaps consider not to go on a weekend to avoid the crowds, but we have been there on a sunday and it was still completely fine.
Where to stay while surfing in Peniche?
You will find many options to stay in Peniche. Keep in mind that during wave “off season”, the European summer, it’s crowded because of summer holidays and in October due to world-class waves and the WSL taking place at Supertubos. Either way, you should book a bit in advance. We have been lucky enough to find the “Ananas Surf House” pretty last minute (2 weeks prior arrival).
From the first second we fell in love with the house. The host (Hi, Yariv!), the facilities – such as the pool and the tennis court the great kitchen – and the lovely people staying with you were simply amazing. The vibe fits Peniche, incredibly relaxing and good for your soul.
As we liked it that much, we decided to work together with Yariv and now organize groups to get here.
Surf trips for groups to Peniche
If you have a bunch of friends with whom you want to travel to Peniche, no problem we can help you out! The Ananas Surf House can accommodate up to 8 people and can also provide three daily meals, surf guiding and much more. So from just a bed to full-service, everything is possible.
You let us know how you prefer to travel and stay, we organize the rest for you! If that sounds good, just write a short email with the dates and amount of people, we are happy to help!
Surf Spots in Peniche
As mentioned above, you have the luxury to have many different spots at your doorstep. In the following I will describe some. Beside these “official spots” there are a gazillion waves breaking along the shore, where you can just jump in and paddle a wave you like.
Cantinho – North wind protected
Here we spent most of our time surfing in Peniche! Cantinho is an amazing beach break that offers rights and lefts. The more you get away from the cliff, the bigger the waves get, as here, the breaks are less protected. The closer to the cliffs you enter the water the more protection you get. Here, conditions ideal for beginners, further west, challenging for intermediates.
Lagide – Locals territory
We didn’t see Lagide working well during our stay. We have heard that this is mainly a local spot and tourists are not extraordinarily welcome. Due to the crowds, I kind of understand this, so rather skip this one and leave it for the locals.
Tip: This webcam is a great indicator for other spots around it, though.
Gigi’s – A long boarder’s paradise
This waves can offer some long rides and is especially well-known among longboarders. We had an extremely fun sunset session at Gigi’s with small but fun waves. The scenery on this side is incredibly beautiful, so definitely check it out.
Supertubos is a shorebreak and can produce massive barrels – got worldwide fame through the best surfers of the world battling here in October. The wave is extremely fast and heavy. In the nature of a shorebreak, waves break in extremely shallow water. Here you can easily snap your board, or hurt yourself. The take off is almost vertical, thus made only for real good surfers.
Praia d’el Rei – The swell magnet
One morning we checked the waves and came back disappointed. Flat! Cantinho, Lagide, Gigi’s, Supertubos, all a pool. Our host had the great idea to drive 15km up north and see if Praia d’el Rei might work. It did. We have been in the water on ourselves on a sunny Sunday.
As soon as Cantinho and the other spots get swell, Praia d’el Rei will be too big for most surfers already. This is, by the way, the place where John John Florence, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater stayed. Says it all.
During wave “low season” in the European summer, you will need to check waves in the morning and hide from the often appearing north wind (ideally at Cantinho). After October you don’t need to worry that anymore as every spot will be pumping. Another good thing here: surfers get allocated evenly within the surf spots, so crowds can be avoided.
Surf Equipment in Peniche
Now you know where to go while surfing in Peniche! Let’s see where you get your equipment. If you didn’t bring your own board you are dependent on renting one.
At Baleal beach, you will find many shops renting and selling boards and wetsuits. The prices are roughly the same, comparing and bargaining will help to you to get a better rate.
Also, in the town of Baleal, you will find many shops with boards of different sizes and shapes.
As I surfed a Semente Board (shaped in Portugal) while surfing in North Sumatra, we wanted to test another local shaper. Fatum Sufboards!* The boards are incredible! Definitely pop by and have a look if you find something that you would love to ride.
They offer a wide selection of shapes and sizes. Perhaps you fall in love with one of them and take one home with you!
As you definitely need a wetsuit (both of us surfed a 3/2, which was perfectly fine for us) consider bringing your own or buying one once arrived.
58surf sells great second-hand wetsuits for a good bargain. If it’s yours, it always fits better and you can use it for the next couple of years.
Prices in Peniche
For European standards, Portugal is a cheap country to travel to. Eating in a restaurant is affordable, groceries are not overpriced and accommodation is cheap.
Certainly expensive is board rental! In Europe you have to calculate with 20€ per day, which is quite a bit, especially if you take into account that car rental tends to be cheaper, on average.
In order to give you a quick feeling on prices, here’s a list of different things you will need to spend money on.
➳ Accommodation: 20 Euro per day
➳ Surfboard: 15-20 Euro per day
➳ Average Dinner: 6-10 Euro
➳ Beer: 1€ (more at the beach)
Peniche has a vibe, you will fall in love with. Peniche has numerous surf spots at your doorstep. You will enjoy your time here!
*paid partnership with Fatum Surfboards
More salt water?
➳ Puerto Escondido – Mexican’s Pipeline and his small brother
➳ Surfing in Nicaragua – Off-Shore Paradise in SJDS
➳ Surfing in Northern Sumatra – Get barreled in pristine nature
➳ Surfing in Sri Lanka – Surfing in the Indian Ocean
➳ Surfing in Spain – When you travel in September, it might be a good choice!