This guide will run through the very best surf camps in Portugal. It’s curated by surfers who’ve traveled the country extensively, from Nazare to Aveiro, Porto to the Algarve, all on the hunt for the finest surf stays going.
We’ll just go right out and say it: Not all Portuguese surf escapes are made equal. Some are A LOT better than others. In fact, the last 10 years or so has seen an explosion in the number of surf camps on offer in this corner of Europe. That’s brought plenty of mediocre stays and a few seriously awesome ones.
This guide will home in on the latter. They are the camps with boho-chic interiors and infinity pools overlooking the Atlantic. They are camps that offer the best surf tuition with ISA-qualified staff. And they are the places that you’ll remember for years to come, hopefully with a few new surf buddies to show for it.
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- Location: Ericeira
- Best for: Experienced surfers
- Price: Deals start at $670 (£591) for seven nights
The location of the Ondina Guesthouse shuns the beginner-friendly beaches south of Ericeira in favor of the more-challenging point breaks that lie within the designated World Surfing Reserve on the north side of town. That’s why we really think this one shines for intermediates and up who are looking to push themselves, although they do have packaged aimed at beginners too.
The lodge itself is classic Portuguese stuff. It’s tucked between a grove of stone pines in a chilled residential area a walk away from Praia de São Lourenço. The rooms are doubles and twins, most of which are flooded with light. Guests can also enjoy a lovely rooftop terrace for drinking and dining in the evening.
Their best offering, we think, is the 8-day surf and yoga combo. It includes five guided surf lessons that are tailored to specific levels (so either on the beaches to the south of town or the ones nearer to the resort) and twice-daily yoga, not to mention one sports massage for good measure.
- Location: Alentejo
- Best for: Couples and wine lovers
- Price: Deals start at $1,117 (£975)/week
The highly personalized and intimate Quinta Camarena retreat is perfect for a couples’ surf holiday. It’s not really like the backpacker-orientated hostels that pack into the towns of Ericeira and Peniche. It’s more refined than that, with a style that recalls the authentic country haciendas of old-world Iberia – think whitewashed walls, overhanging terracotta roofs, and wooden decks with views of the Alentejo forests.
Talking of Alentejo forests…this camp is actually about 30 minutes’ drive inland from the nearest surf beaches past Vila Nova de Milfontes. That’s both a downside (you need to travel each morning for the surf lessions) and a plus (it’s quieter and more rural where you stay).
There are up to four lessons included in the stay, though surfing can be swapped out for daily yoga sessions if the conditions aren’t favorable. Tuition is led by co-owner Cam Camarena, an LA native with experience surfing extensively in South America. We think a special mention should be made of the food here: The two daily meals are each excellent quality and come with wine to match.
The Salty Pelican Yoga & Surf Retreat, Ericeira
- Location: Ericeira
- Best for: Stylish accommodation (seriously, it’s lush)
- Price: Around $162 (£142)/night not including surf lessons or rental
Regular readers of The Surf Atlas will know that we’ve already got a bit of a soft spot for The Salty Pelican brand. They opened a nifty new outlet in our beloved Hiriketiya Beach down on the south shore of Sri Lanka back in 2020. We’re pleased to say that the niftiness carries on over in their Portuguese iterations, too…
Just check out this incredible lodge. Perched high on a ridge above the red-tiled roofs of Ericeira, the pad is boho-cool from top to bottom. Inside, it channels a touch of the Mykonos taverna; a dash of the Balinese cabana. There are more wicker lights and hemp rugs than you can shake your Sagres beer at. AKA – the whole thing is super-comfy.
Head outside to the patio and you’ll be greeted by sweeping 180-degree views of the Ericeira coast. You can literally check the surf conditions while bobbing in the pool. The gardens also come armed with a BBQ grill and dining space that gets used every night for social occasions, wine-tasting sessions, you name it.
Laneez Ericeira Surf House
- Location: Ericeira
- Best for: Solo surf trips
- Price: From $75 (£66)/night
We’ve heard nothing but excellent things about Laneez since it first flung open its doors back in 2015. Most reviewers say that it’s one of the most sociable surf camps they’ve visited, which is why we list it here as the best for solo travelers looking to make new pals.
We could probably just as well list Laneez for the quality of the surf lessons they offer. Packages here are run by the seasoned duo of Miguel Ruivo and Mark Durbano, who together bring something like 60 years of surf experience to the table – Mark Durbano even competed with Team GB for a while. To put it lightly, you’ll be in VERY good hands in the water.
After sessions, you’ll return to a lodge that’s pure style. Offering a mix of dorms and doubles and suites, the whole place oozes style. There’s a great medley of lively areas – the bar space and the terrace that overlooks the breaking Atlantic waves below – and chillout corners – the fire-warmed lounge and reading nook.
Estela Surf and Hostel
- Location: Estela
- Best for: Surfing in the north of Portugal
- Price: From $390 (£341) per person for a week
There’s something undeniably welcoming about keeping that surf camp in the family. That’s precisely what’s happened at the Estela Surf & Hostel. What this low-key camp north of Porto lacks in size and social media presence, it more than makes up for with its homey vibes and intimate surf camps.
With just four rooms, there’s rarely more than eight people attending their packages plus instructors. That’s not only fantastic for making new mates, but also means you get way more attention on each surf lesson.
The other thing to note is that this is one of the few of the best surf camps in Portugal listed here that isn’t on the Silver Coast or in the Algarve. Instead, it takes you up to the fabled Green Coast north of Porto, where the waves are unpredictable but the lineups are alluringly empty.
Tiny Whale Surf Lodge
- Location: Algarve
- Best for: Beginners
- Price: Week-long camps start at $838 (£732)/per person
If you’re on the hunt for a Portuguese surf camp that’s totally tailored to complete beginners, then look no further than the Tiny Whale Surf Lodge. It sits inland in the Algarve, about equidistance between the well-protected south-facing beaches east of Sagres and the west-facing beaches around Arrifana and Carrapateira. The upshot? There’s almost always a learner-friendly wave on offer in these parts.
We have to say, the lodge itself is also downright lovely. It’s housed in a traditional Algarvian villa only brims with mod cons and cool design features. The massive communal dining table is especially great for hosting all surfers at once. The pool, surrounded by a thick olive grove, is a cracking place to chill out after a session. Oh – and there’s a hot tub!
The 8-day package they offer includes surf theory, video analysis of surfing sessions, surf-skate, and daily yoga. It’s really great if you’re just getting started. And in a wonderful, uber-sunny part of the country to boot.
The Salty Pelican Yoga & Surf Retreat, Peniche
- Location: Peniche
- Best for: Digital nomads
- Price: From $37 (£33)/night
The second mention The Salty Pelican on this list is one we don’t think anyone could argue with. Cue the brand spanking new lodge in their arsenal that’s steps back from the endless waves of Peniche’s main Praia Baleal Sul. There’s only one word for it: STUNNING.
Bright and breezy dorm spaces and doubles fling open to 180-degree views of the water here. You can check the surf while still in your bunk. Up above is a covered terrace space that would look right at home in Bali, with a palm tree sprouting up the side and big trestle tables for those evening beer-pong sessions.
We’d say that the flexible offering of gear rental and surf tuition here really lends itself to the beginner-intermediate end of the spectrum. Then again, so does this part of Peniche itself, what with Baleal’s learner breaks 10 minutes’ walk to the north.
Where the The Salty Pelican Yoga & Surf Retreat in Peniche stands out for us is in its razor-sharp focus on what’s needed for digital nomad surfers. Their facilities are tailored for that crew, coming complete with fitness facilities, planned social event calendars, and – of course – stable, high-speed WiFi.
- Location: Azores
- Best for: Surfing remote island breaks
- Price: From £448 ($513) for a whole week including lessons and rental and meals
There are nine whole islands of surfing to get through in the Azores, but whenever anyone asks us what surf camp to go for on these distant islands, we know exactly where to pick: Azores Bagus. Set above the all-level beach breaks around Sao Roque on the south coast of Sao Miguel island, this relatively new lodge does a lot of things just right…
It’s not too big – you get to know the couple who run it light buddies. It’s not too small – there’s usually a couple of other surfers present to help you make new pals. The design is stylish without losing its homey touch. And – perhaps most importantly – all guests get to draw on the fantastic local knowledge of the breaks that the instructors bring (100% required if you want to surf the Azores).
We’d go for their 8-day package largely because it includes a weekly BBQ and five times two-hour surf lessons.
- Location: Cascais
- Best for: Partiers
- Price: From $371 (£324) per person for eight days and seven nights
In a market filled with surf camps that preach chakra alignments and flow yoga sessions, it’s kinda’ refreshing to see one that lists “Lots of fun!” as one of the main features of their packages. And that’s precisely what you can expect at this energetic camp in Cascais. It’s right in the middle of the famous resort town to the west of Lisbon, with a weekly calendar of events that includes camp dinners and BBQs.
Before we get to the parties, a word on the surfing. They do take this very seriously here and lots of past guests note the speed at which the practiced went from whitewash to green waves. That’s largely down to the fact that they limit groups to six people per instructor and are all run by experienced staff.
Ah, so…the parties. Things usually start after the day’s surfing is done around the pool side. There’s an in-house bar where you can grab cold beers. Later, the surf camp leaders and fellow guests will usually push onto Bocanero, a legendary tavern come party spot in the Cascais center.
The Pure Flow Motions Retreats
- Location: Sagres
- Best for: Mature travelers and health travelers
- Price: From $1,421 (£1,241) for a full week
From one of the most youthful, party-filled surf camps in PT to one of the most mature, Pure Flow Motions Retreats is a great choice if you’re looking for a chilled and health-focused week on the waves. It’s run out of the Memmo Baleeira Hotel, a lux condo-style stay that sits atop the cliffs of Sagres, the de facto surf capital of the Algarve.
It’s worth knowing that this package isn’t ALL about surfing. It includes daily practice of Qigong meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and nature walks. That means you won’t spend so long on the waves, but when you do paddle out it will be under the seasoned hand of Marta Mealha or Nicolau da Costa, both respected teachers in the region.
The hotel here has plenty to help aid that detox and rejuvenation – think a hammam, and outdoor pool, and a fully-fledged spa.