Recentlty I went to visit Portugal for the first time in my life and immediately had one huge regret: Why hadn’t I been there earlier? After the first contact with the sandy beach and my first dip into the ocean I knew that this would defintely not be my last time and I am already now planning my next roadtrip to Portugal this summer. I had come here for the start of the season with the first surfing session and I absolutely loved the conditions there. Freinds had been recommending Baleal, to me, a surfer’s paradise, located just about 80km North of Lisbon featuring some of the best waves you can imagine. Here I found the perfect hostel: the ‘Baleal Surfcamp‘.
Arriving at the Baleal Surf hostel somehow felt like coming home and proofed to be the perfect place to linger and settle down for a little holiday. With space for only 13 people, we instantly became like a little family and leaving after three days was way too soon. The living room, the kitchen and the terrace had everything you need and provided plenty of room to sit and cook together, tell stories and just have a big laugh. When establishing this place owner Bruno Bairros says he wanted to create a homey atmosphere without the cramped out cramped rooms you see in some hostels.
Best of all: the sea was right across the road.
Apart from this place there is one other hostel and a couple of private and luxury accomodations, which can be booked via Baleal Surfcamp.
The town Baleal itself is absolutely hassle-free and everything you need is in walking distance: the sea, surfshops, a little supermarket and restaurants. And for those who want to explore more of the area there are also bikes to rent. When visiting this place it was rather quiet and relaxing, but during summer it attracts people from everywhere and turns into quite the party town.
The surfschool and the restaurant that also belong to the hostel are spectacularly atmospheric and have a great view over the ocean. In fact, Baleal surfschool is the only surfschool that is facing the sea. A friend of mine and I have been there to the opening ceremony of the restaurant and loved watching the spectacular sunset from here while sipping one of their fantastic wines and nibbling on the amazing food served here. The owner Bruno even installed a sound system in the bar/restaurant that “makes you start shaking without even knowing it“.
Girl’s watch out! Every year in June Baleal surfcamp organises a week for girls only. The perfect surftrip for any travelette who loves to surf and get a little extra pampering. During this week you”ll be having surfing lessons, you can attend the Yoga course on the beach, get your personal massage to relax after a long day of surfing and on top make a great trip to the special Berlengas Islands (watch this video to get an idea of what the Berlengas Island looks like). This year’s special week is already over, but watch out for the one next year.
There is another great event coming up; the ‘Surf, Sardines & Rock’n Roll‘ celebration, which takes place between August 2-4 and is organised to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Surfcamp. As the name suggests, there will be grilled sardines, live rock’n roll bands playing and during the day you’ll find various surf competitions going on. The event is meant to celebrate surf culture and combine it with music, to bond and bring together all those who love the sea and surfing.
Thumbs up for the Girl’s Special Week
SURFING IN BALEAL
Due to its geographical position, Portugal is blessed with lots of awesome surfspots and you can find waves througout the year.
Due to its shape Baleal and Peniche offer waves for every level: it has beachbreaks, pointbreaks, barrels, long peeling reef rides and shallow waves for beginners. Very famous is the spot ‘Superturbos’, which is the royal surf spot of Portugal – extremly fast and hollow.
Peniche and Baleal are facing North, South and West costlines, which guarantees that there will be great waves at all times. In total there are over 30 surfspots all with different swell conditions.
Baleal Surfschool was the first proper surfschool in Baleal and was teaching only local kids at first. Now there are surf teachers from the area, as well as from Brazil, Agentina and Greece. The surfing team exceeded all my expectations: they were super flexible with their conditions, shared their passion for the sea, gave lots of individual advice and even recorded our surfing style on video to discuss it afterwards.
Morning Surf Session
With my GoPro in the water
The Baleal Surfcamp is taking off
A little bit further away from Baleal: Papoa (pointbreak) with waves that always break at the same spot
Even though Baleal and the neigbouring town Peniche are rather small there are lots of opportunities to spend your day. Baleal surf school offers also lots of different tours, which bring you closer to the area and which include trips to a surfboard-factory, surftrips to different and remoted spots, a visit in the medieval town Ovidos, the Berlengas Island and much more.
Surfboard Factory Fatum
The best thing I have done was taking a look into the surf factory Fatum and seeing how a surboard is shaped, which you can see on the pictures below.
Surfboard Blank: Surfing teacher Steven Santos explains how a surfboard gets shaped – from a simple blank to a ready shaped board
The most important room of the surf factory – the shaping room, the place where the boards get their shape. These rooms generally are blue and the lights are dim since shapers work a lot with light and shadows
last steps: finetuning
Also worth a visit is the enchanting, medieval town of Obidos, which is part of Portugal’s national heritage. Me and and friend really enjoyed exploring the romatic city and its adorable narrow, cobbled streets. The special thing about this town is that it is surrounded by a fortified castle wall and you can walk around it whilst enjoying the view above the red roofs. Another speciality of the city is the drink ‘ginja’ (made out of cherry liquer, grappa and wine), which is severd in dark chocolate cups. Aboslutely super-fragil-istic-expi-ga-licious! Because of the warm and humid climate there are also many wine plants growing along the house walls, which make this place gorgeously green.
Obidos special drink ginja, red roofs, wine plants
Unfortunately our days soon were counted and we couldn’t make it to the Island, but everyone was raving about it and next time I will definitely visit this magic place. The island can be reached from Peniche and is a short boat ride. The electricity on the island is quite limited and gets swicthed of most of the time. This is why on a clear night you can even see the milky way. The water is crystalline and the island well-known for scuba-diving and snorkeling.
Picture via Vida de Turisto