The Ultimate Guide to Carrapateira Surf

by Nuno D'Angelo

Discover the Carrapateira surf, which is some of the best in the south-west Algarve for intermediates.

Carrapateira surf

Carrapateira surf at a glance

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The good

  • Right in the heart of the Algarve’s top surf territory
  • Fantastic, heavy beach breaks
  • Nice right point breaks
  • Stunning beaches!

The bad

  • Pretty challenging in winter
  • Gets touristy in summer

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing Portugal and surfing in the Algarve

What’s in this guide to Carrapateira surf?

An introduction to Carrapateira surf

Carrapateira is a small, whitewashed Algarvian village about 20 minutes’ driving north of Sagres – the region’s self-proclaimed surf capital. It’s one of the first towns you come to as you skirt the Costa Vicentina natural park that spreads across great swathes of this wave-rich region. It doesn’t disappoint. There are two main surf beaches within eyeshot of the town itself: To the north, Bordeira; to the south, Carrapateira itself. Both are pretty outstanding examples of Algarvian Atlantic surf.

The conditions vary a lot depending on swell size, but the main sort of wave you get here are beefy Atlantic walls. The beach breaks are big and can close out, but also give some nice heavy sets that A-frame. The points are generally rarer but of higher quality, occasionally hollowing out when they peak over 6 foot with an offshore westerly.

It’s also worth mentioning that Carrapateira is in the midst of a whole region that’s known for its waves. Drive just 30 minutes along pine-studded coast roads and you could be paddling out to the Arrifana surf, considered a cracking beginner spot. Go south and there’s Sagres, with its Atlantic-facing and more sheltered southern beaches. There’s rarely a dull day if you’ve got the board in tow.

A guide to the Carrapateira surf spots

The range of Carrapateira surf spots stretches south to Sagres and north to Aljezur. Between them are some cracking places, with options for both beginners and experts.

Carrapateira point break

Aljezur and Arrifana

Let’s start to the north of Carrapateira itself. Around 30 minutes’ drive up this stunning caostline means the town of Aljezur is within reach. It’s a lovely place of whitewashed cottages that can be used to access the iconic beach of Arrifana. That’s a surf haven, with a wide beach break with multiple peaks that’s great for beginners. Around that are other spots like Amoreira, which are a little better for intermediates and can get nice left-right sets.

Check out our complete guide to both Arrifana surf and Aljezur

Bordeira Beach

The Bordeira surf spot is unquestionably one of the most stunning in the whole region of Sagres. A big dash of golden sand set beneath crumbling cliffs, it’s one that’s sure to take the breath away. It also offers some reliable conditions, with sets of 2 foot enough to get the whole bay working. There are some sucky shore dumps at low tide, but anything up halfway can be steep, hollow and fast. Lots of rips that will pull you northwards up the beach. Very pully at the rivermouth.

Bordeira Point Break

The point break is one of the highlights of the Bordeira surf. It only works on a higher tide as the waves wrap around the big cliffs close to the end of the beach. Then, it’s a challenging drop-in on a left-hander that’s fast and can get tubey on larger swells. Great for upper intermediates as there’s rocks underfoot. Beginners can join the crowds and watch from the headland lookout point above.

Praia do Amado (Carrapateira)

Praia do Amado is often simply referred to as Carrapateira, mainly to differentiate it from its namesake beach on the south coast of the Algarve (no surfing there – just tourists!). It’s a really popular place to paddle out, hemmed in by big cliffs about 5 minutes’ driving from the town itself. It can get big here, with very nice right-hand points emanating from where the SW-W sets crash into the cliffs. However, it remains a fantastic beginner option. That’s mainly thanks to the shelter that’s offered by the flanking headlands, and the abundance of nearby surf schools. A few rips are the main hazard.

Praia do Amado

The point break is one of the highlights of the Bordeira surf. It only works on a higher tide as the waves wrap around the big cliffs close to the end of the beach. Then, it’s a challenging drop-in on a left-hander that’s fast and can get tubey on larger swells. Great for upper intermediates as there’s rocks underfoot. Beginners can join the crowds and watch from the headland lookout point above.

Praia da Cordoama

Escape the crowds by venturing to this hidden spot midway up the est coast from Sagres. It’s never got the crowds of say, the Arrifana surf, but it’s pretty tricky to get to (beware if driving a rental car!). Good in calmer months because it pulls in good SW swells.

Sagres

Sagres is the main hub of surfing in the Algarve. Drop in to find two coastlines that face different ways. One is on the Atlantic, with strong sets that can work right throughout the summer. The other is on the south coast of Portugal, which makes it a great option for groms and beginners.

Tempted? We’ve got a complete guide to surfing in Sagres

Where to stay when surfing in Carrapateira

Carrapateira is in one of the remoter parts of the Algarve. That’s part of the charm. And it means you get some seriously lovely places to bed down. Here’s our pick of the bunch. We’ve heard good things about the lot and driven past some thinking wowza, what a place to stay, eh?

Eco Apartment Carrapateira ($$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

There’s hardly a better escape to rustic, rural Algarvian backcountry than this. Built from rough stone and set in the green hills just behind Bordeira Beach, the pad is a short drive from the surf. It’s got a cozy interior with a small kitchenette and oodles of country charm.

Hortas do Rio – Casa de Campo ($$-$$$)

Best for: A cozy pad for two close to the waves

Hortas do Rio – Casa de Campo is a spot of rustic charm with a dash of luxury. It’s on the winding road heading to the the Carrapateira, where it opens onto a sweeping balcony with views of the lush hills. There’s on-site pool and a boho walk-in shower. You can even stroll to the waves of Bordeira Beach from here if you’re feeling fit.

Carrapateiramar Guest House ($$)

Best for: Affordability and convenience

Carrapateiramar Guest House offers a series of modern and functional studios that open into a patio area that’s got its own pool. A short drive to the beach and really highly rated, it’s one of the best places to stay on surf trips to Carrapateira.

When to surf in Carrapateira

The seasons can really change up the surf along this stretch of southern Portugal. Let’s take a look at what they mean for you…

Summer (June-Aug)

The Algarve is at its flattest in the summer. Famed as a holiday destination, it’s more for the beach goers. That’s not quite so true on Carrapateira’s side of the coast. Thanks to good exposure to 180 degrees of Atlantic swell, there’s usually something to catch here, no matter the month. It will be smaller; it will be busier.

Wear: Rash vest, shorties, sometimes a 2mm

Autumn (Sept-Nov)

The BEST season of the lot if you ask us. You get a little bit of extra pizzazz rolling in thanks to dominant NW swells in the Atlantic. They can cook up hefty walls on the cliffs here, and power up lovely day-long sessions from Arrifana to Sagres. But there are also some smaller times, when the local surf schools can showcase total beginners what the Algarve is good for!

Wear: 4/3 is the go-to local option

You gotta’ get a good sunscreen for surfing in sun-drenched Mexico. Check out our guide to the five best on the market right now to get what you’re after – AKA a block with zinc oxide that’s okay for both your skin and the ocean!

Winter (Dec-March)

Winter is pretty unpredictable territory in the western Algarve. You can be sunbathing one day and dealing with hefty storms the next. It can rain a little and be very windy. When there are groundswells on the NW route, it’s heaven on Carrapateira and on the rights of the Arrifana harbour. When there aren’t, get ready for some closey sets that are hard work but rewarding. It’s the season for intermediates and pros.

Wear: 4/3 sees most through, with boots and hood

Spring (April-May)

Spring can be chilly early on, so keep that 4/3 going. You also get another potpourri of conditions, much like in August but without the added heat of the Indian Summer that’s often on offer here. Some days are chilled and mellow for practicing intermediates (usually May). Others will be hardcore (closer to April). We’d go on a limb and say that May might be the best month for an intermediate surf trip to one of the local schools/camps.

Wear: 4/3 and then maybe a 3/2 or shorty

Surf shops in Carrapateira

Looking for gear? There’s a cracking surf shop in Carrapateira itself where you can grab most things. Others are on offer in nearby Sagres and Aljezur.

Pipe Spot Surfshop

The Pipe Spot Surfshop is a pretty sleek store in the middle of small Carrapateira town itself. They sell a range of new DHD boards and wetsuits from kids to large adults. There’s also a range of skimboards and foamies, along with sunnies and surf fashion. Official Rip Curl stockist, too, mind you.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Portugal

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