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+ Wide swell window
+ Flexible wind and swell combos
+ Quality beach and reefbreaks
+ Relatively cheap Euro destination Relatively cheap
- Summer onshores
- Increasingly crowded
- Cool water year-round
- Sardine factory stink!

Peniche, Portugal, EUROPE

Supertubes, Sully

Surf Spots

Foz do Arelho
Praia do Baleal
Molho Leste
Praia Areia Branca
Santa Cruz
Praia Azul

The Surf

Portugal sits on the western edge of Europe’s continental shelf, enticing deep ocean swells to break unimpeded on its’ sunny shores. The Portuguese coast is wide open to the consistent W-NW swells that pound Europe from October to April. The climate is the most pleasant on Europe’s Atlantic seaboard, but the water remains cold year round. This coldness doesn’t transfer to the friendly people who have an affinity with the sea through their age-old traditions of seafaring and fishing. Both these themes are strong in Peniche, which is home to one of Portugal’s biggest fishing fleets. Whereas most of the Portugese seaboard faces due west, with few headlands for wind and swell protection, Peniche is on a small peninsula at right angles to the Portuguese coast. This peninsula used to be an island, until a causeway was built in the 12th century, and rarely holds much surf. Sand dunes to the north link this peninsula to the smaller Baleal peninsula, offering 5k’s (3mi) of beachbreak, with a N to SW exposure. Further north, the zone starts off with a major rivermouth beside the Obidos Lagoon close to Foz de Arelho, which sometimes hosts a good left. Between here and the small peninsula at Baleal is a long, straight NW facing stretch of beachbreaks, backed by fields of crops, making access difficult.

The little fishing town of Peniche is not the prettiest spot on the Portuguese coast, but it’s probably the most renowned surfing area in the country. Originally an island, Peniche became one with the mainland due to the silting up of the shallow channel that divided it from the rest of the country. Today that short and narrow spit of land contains an obscene amount of wave variety that can provide the goods in almost any conditions. Most famous is Supertubos, regarded by many as one of Europe’s best beach breaks, but there are plenty of other barrels to pull into around Peniche. Peniche is a year round destination with swell exposure on the north side of the town and shelter on the south. The town also sits at the dividing point between the cooler and wetter north and the dry, sunny south meaning that summers are long but tempered by cool sea breezes and the winters mild though occasionally stormy.

When to Go

Portugal is the European yardstick for year round consistency, and Peniche stylishly handles the regular SW-NW swells. Average swell size is around 8-10ft in winter, peaking at 12-15ft and summer is usually in the 4-6ft range. Storms are pretty frequent, but the peninsulas give flexibility different wind and swell combinations. The beachbreaks north of Baleal are the most consistent spots in the summer, but wake up before the “Nortada” wind in order to get clean conditions. This is the dominant wind, blowing from the N-NW from April to September. For this reason autumn and winter are the best seasons wind wise, with a standard pattern of E-NE winds and the occasional storm bringing W-SW winds. Tidal ranges vary from 4-12ft and greatly affect where you surf

dominant swell W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N
swell size (ft) 5-6 5-6 4 3 4-5 5-6
consistency (%) 80 70 60 40 80 80
dominant wind N -NE NW -NE NW -N NW -N NW -NE N -E
average force F2 F2 F2 F2 F3 F3
consistency (%) 71 54 65 55 51 73
water temp (C) 13 14 16 18 17 15
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 3/2 3/2 3/2
Peniche - 20,000

1,753km (1120mi)

GMT (+1 summer)

Travel Information


The climate in Portugal is very pleasant year round. Ericeira and Peniche are in the middle of the country, stuck between the dry Algarve and the damp regions north of Porto. The wettest season starts in November and lasts until March-April, and there is even snow in the Serra da Estrela (the snow resorts are only reliable in February). The best climate occurs during the change over seasons, even though mid-summer rarely gets too hot on the coast. The Nortada (north winds) always cool things down and conspire with the cold Canarian Current to prevent the water from ever reaching boardshorts temperature. A light 2/2 or 3/2 steamer will do except in mid-winter when a 4/3 and boots are necessary.


Don’t miss Obidos, the fortified city to the west. Take a trip to the Berlenga islands, a bird filled National Park, with nice beaches and snorkelling.


Apart from rocks and a bit of localism at Molho Leste and Lagide, the atmosphere in the water is cool. The stink of fish being processed in the factory near Supertubos is as heavy as the wave. Waves on the south side of the peninsula break harder than the more crumbly waves on the north side. There are lots of surf schools at Baia and Baleal.


There are 2 good surf shops in Peniche. Bodyboarding is as big here as in the rest of Portugal, and it’s the bodyboarders who control the line-ups. There are no real big wave spots here, so you won’t need a gun. A board costs ±$170. This zone links up with Ericeira, one hour to the south.