With beaches on either side of the town, Sagres surf is up there with the best in Portugal. This guide reveals the top spots, the best places to stay, and more…
Surfing in Sagres at a glance
- Waves on two coastlines – the south and the west.
- One of the sunniest parts of Portugal.
- Really pretty town.
- Some concealed rocks beneath the west-coast beaches.
- Summer can be flat.
- Some crowds.
This is a part of our greater guide to surfing Portugal. Head there to find loads more information on surf destinations just like Sagres, but also further north around Lisbon and Porto.
What you’ll find in this guide
An introduction to Sagres surf
The unique geography of Sagres makes it a haven for all levels of surfers. The town straddles a high headland that pokes into the Atlantic Ocean on the far southern end of Portugal. On one side, you’ve got the relatively calm waters of the Algarve. On the other, the open ocean pumps swells over reefs, rocks, and beaches alike.
Splitting its spots between two sections of sea like this means there’s usually something working, and something for different levels. Surfing in Sagres for beginners is more popular on the southern beaches of Martinhal and Mareta, for example. Meanwhile, the more exposed bay of Tonel has waves for intermediates and experts.
The upshot here is that there are two totally different Sagres surf territories to choose between. If the waves or the wind aren’t working in one, you can always check the other. Oh, and the town is perched right on the edge of the Algarve – one of the country’s sunnies, most beautiful regions.
When it the Sagres surf season?
April/September/October (All levels)
This is when the surf in Sagres really comes into its own. Right across the Algarve, spring and autumn usually mean balmy days and loads of sun. The waves also tend to be tamer, but there’s also enough pumping for shortboarders on the nearby West Coast breaks at Cordoama.
Winters are rarely woolly-jumper cold this far south in Portugal. However, there are some changes to the predominant swell conditions that means the Sagres surf can get particularly gnarly during the winter months. You might need a slightly thicker wetsuit, too. Beaches like Tonel can be heavy work, with high overheads and big closeouts when there’s onshore winds.
The best Sagres surf spots
There are two main breaks within walking distance of the town center. However, it’s common for any surf camp in Sagres to make use of the whole medley of different spots that line the coast to the north and west to boot. They range from exposed west coasters with blustery winds and pulsing beach breaks to pretty coves with golden sand and beginner-friendly swells.
Probably the most famous Sagres surf spot of all sits beneath the high cliffs on the west side of town. It braces the full force of the Atlantic but has surrounding headlands and submerged rocks to thank for the slight protection. It’s a real peaky beach break that shifts with the sandbanks. Keep an eye out for those coveted westerly swells.
The beginner’s surf spot in Sagres lines the Algarve to the south and east of the town. It’s neatly tucked between two high peninsulas, which means plenty of protection from westerly and north-westerly winds and swells. The upshot is that the waves here tend to be tamer. That’s especially true in summer when the ocean glows sky blue and its perfect for finding your surfing legs. When a southerly push swings around, Mareta will get big – think possible overheads that roll right and left.
Bide your time and wait for the right swell (a straight southerly) direction to hit Beliche. That should make it one of the most enticing surf breaks in the Sagres region. Peaking into a neat wedge, it’ll curl into a left-right barrel when it’s properly working. During the summer, it’s common for the Beliche surf report to read flat, flat, and more flat.
Lucky enough to have your own ride? Drop the shortboard into the van and head north to Cordoama. This secluded beach break often means way fewer people. But it’s not just that. The summer conditions pull in swells from the N-NW to create some sculpted peaks that can turn glassy. Watch out for northerly winds that spray everything all over the place. Beware of rips.
Praia do Zavial
Praia do Zavial is a more classic Algarve beach that lies nearly 10 km down the coast from Sagres. It’s south facing, so picks up any swell moving up across the Atlantic. When something is happening, the waves can get fast and high. When the swell is lower, expect a calm, beginner-friendly place to try you first Portuguese waves.
Just check the map: Martinhal is the most protected of the three main beaches in Sagres. It huddles under the cliffs, facing away from dominant swell directions to the SW. The result is a stretch of sand with much calmer waters. A few surf schools hoover up the beginners here. It’s a fine place to head if you’ve never ridden a surfboard before and fancy something really tame to get going.
Carvoeiro surfing takes you nearly 60 km along the shores of the Algarve to the east of Sagres. It seems like a hefty drive to make for much tamer waves. We only mention it here because the breaks you’ll pass along the way offer great Sagres surfing beginners’ level. What’s more, you’ll be able to explore gorgeous whitewashed Algarvian fishing villages once you’re done in the water!
Where can I find surfboard rentals in Sagres?
You won’t have to search very far to find surfboard rentals in Sagres. R Cmte Matoso street is the place to go for vendors near the beginner spots of Martinhal and Mareta. The outlets on the N268 are nearer to the main roads leading into town. They might also be more convenient if you intend to surf the harder waves at Tonel and the west coast of the Algarve.
Where to stay on a Sagres surf trip
The great thing about choosing somewhere to stay on your Sagres surf trip is that this loveable town isn’t just for wave aficionados. Holidaymakers also love it, so the accommodations include luxury resorts, apartments, and your rough-and-ready surf camps. Check them out:
Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort Hotel ($$$)
Family surf trips hardly get better than this! This beach resort sits at the far end of Martinhal Beach – home to some of the easiest Sagres surf going. And when the kids are hitting the waves? Parents can kick it by the pool or head to the spa for some seaweed massage treatments!
Wavesensations – Sagres Surf House ($$)
A perfect example of the new-breed of stylo surf houses, Wavesensations is a clean and comfy place to base yourself. The rooms are airy, bright, and resemble hotel doubles. But you get the added enjoyment of the low-key surfer’s chillout area. There’s also a healthy breakfast, and – most importantly – a huge on-site selection of rental boards and wetsuits.
Casa Azul Sagres ($$)
Housed – as the name implies – in a lovely little blue building right in the heart of Sagres, this boutique lodging has some great apartment options. Spaces are modern, bright, and simple. There’s also an optional breakfast to set you up for a day in the ocean.
Mareta View – Boutique Bed & Breakfast ($$)
A lovely little B&B with gardens that sprout bluebells and wildflowers in the spring. Try to score one of the rooms with a balcony that overlooks Mareta Beach. That way, you’ll be able to check the surf from the comfort of your own bed!
Travel essentials for anyone surfing in Sagres
Sagres surf spots are an enticing prospect, no matter what level of boarder you are. But it’s not only the waves that make this a desirable destination. With its rock-ribbed cliffs, it’s earthy seafood eateries, and prime position right where the golden beaches of the south Algarve give way to the rugged Atlantic, there are oodles of reasons you might want to make a visit.
Surf or no surf, we’ve put together the tips below to help you plan a trip:
Where exactly is Sagres?
Pull out your map of Portugal. You see where the country sort of pokes its toe into the Atlantic Ocean on its far south-western edge. That’s pretty much exactly where you’ll find Sagres. The geography alone is enough to show just how awesome the surfing in Sagres is. You’ll find waves of different sorts to the north and the east.
Currency and ATMs in Sagres
The same as in the rest of Portugal. You’ll need euros (€) to pay for your surf rentals in Sagres.
There are a few ATMs in the town itself. Look for them around the Spar supermarket on Matoso road, toward the entrance to Praia da Baleeira.
How to get to Sagres
Faro Airport (or the Algarve Airport) is around 75 miles to the east of Sagres. That’s the best place to land if you’re catching a low-cost airline.
Portugal and a major hub. It’s served by the likes of easyJet, WizzAir, Vueling, and Ryanair. They offer loads of seasonal and year-round connections, with loads going out of the UK.
Full-frills fliers like Lufthansa and Air Swiss also run routes into Faro Airport. They have direct links to major European hubs like Frankfurt and Munich, opening up long-haul connections across to the US and Asia.
Regional bus services from both Lisbon and Lagos to Sagres are noticeably thin on the ground. However, there are a few connections. From the former, you can catch the public Eva Transportes link for around €3 each way. To get in from Lisbon, head to the Sete Rios, from where tickets cost just under €20 per person. You’ll need to check with individual companies if they’ll let you travel with a surfboard.
How to get around Sagres
Walking around Sagres is a joy. This is a pretty Portuguese coast town with low-rise cottages and cobbles pavements. You’ll find cafes on the street corners and be able to feel the breeze coming off the ocean. There’s a gravel path leading down to Mareta beach on the south side of town. To get to Tonel, follow the L-shaped track around to Tonel Beach Bar.
There’s not much in the way of public transport in Sagres – the town is simply too small. Instead, most people who want to explore the area’s surf spots will rent their own car. That can open up days of Carvoeiro surfing to the east, or the heavier breaks that roll into beaches like Beliche and Cordoama to the north.
This ultimate guide to Sagres surf aims to help you put together the perfect wave-riding holiday in south Portugal. If you’ve got anything to add that you think we’ve missed, we’d love to consider including it. Get in touch or drop us a message in the comments below the line. Happy surfing!