At the centre of a designated world surfing reserve, this charming town has plenty up its sleeve. Read on for a guide to Ericeira surf spots, which string from long beachfronts for beginners all the way to rocky reefs suited to pros.
Surfing in Ericeira at a glance
- A huge variety of beach breaks and reef breaks.
- Prevailing offshore winds.
- Beautiful surrounding coastline.
- A fun surf town with plenty of atmosphere.
- Some pollution in the water after heavy rain.
- Swell dips in the summer.
- A little expensive.
This is a part of our greater guide to surfing Portugal.
What you’ll find in this guide
An introduction to Ericeira surf
An official Save the Waves reserve, Ericeira is up there with the very cream de la crème of Portuguese surf. The spots are spread over a series of bays and long beaches that all front the Atlantic. Some are swell magnets. Others are protected. They range from sand-bottomed beginner rollers like the ones at Foz do Lizandro to rugged reefs at the wedges of Praia do Sul.
With a whopping 10 recognized spots packed into under 10 miles of coastline, you’re never likely to be short on places to go. What’s more, the reliability is unbelievable. Stats show that groundswells account for over 55% of the wave days here, meaning you shouldn’t have to contend with blown out frames or bad conditions too much of the time.
The dominant swell direction swings from SW to NW. Prevailing easterly winds push plenty of offshore systems through – you can see it in the spray coming off the waves down on Ribeira D’Ilhas! Oh, and there’s a super-chilled surfer vibe to the town itself. Expect live music places, great bakeries, and some brilliant surf schools and surf camps.
When it the Ericeira surf season?
The reefs that string along the headlands to the north of the town really come into their own. The north and north-west swells can fire on all cylinders at this time of year, pushing power straight into Coxos and its neighbors. This is the season if you’re chasing Ericeira’s famous fast rides.
April-August (All levels but pros might struggle)
The weather calms considerably on the Atlantic coast of Portugal come the summer months. A lot of the surf crowd is replaced by holidaymaker sin search of sun and sea. However, this could be prime time to organise a surf trip to Ericeira if you’re a total beginner. The likes of Foz do Lizandro and Praia do Sul are likely to offer something to ride.
What are the best waves Ericeira has to offer?
Ericeira has loads of surf! This isn’t a single-beach town where the line-up is crammed into a solitary bay. There are more than 10 separate places to head. Each has its own unique wave, whether that’s a curling Atlantic barrel section or a peaky sand break that’s ripe for a little ripping.
A few of the most popular options are listed below. We’ve divided them into north and south waves. That’s a good way of doing things because they northern Ericeira surf breaks tend to be harder and more remote. The southern ones lean towards first-timers and have better access to the old town.
Surf spots in south Ericeira
Foz do Lizandro
Calling all beginners, Foz do Lizandro is the place to go! This handsome cove between the river mouth and the cliffs is known for its tame swells. It’s got a sand bottom, so there’s no worries about riding into any rock. Works best on a medium to low tide, as the retreating water expands the plane of the wave. Changes daily thanks to the movements of the estuary sandbars. Expect some flat, fat days with low swells. Sometimes, you’ll catch Lizandro showcasing a cracking left-hander that can hold up to 8 feet!
Praia do Sul
Beginners looking to graduate from Lizandro’s lazy lefts and rights should put Praia do Sul in their crosshairs. A typical southern Ericeira surf break, it’s neat and nice with glassy waters. Everything breaks over a sand bottom. There are peaks that move both directions. They offer rides that can extend as much as 100 metres across the bay.
When the swell dips in summertime and other southern beaches are looking positively serene, there’s a chance you’ll catch a few great waves in Sao Juliao. In fact, it’s the swell magnet of Ericeira. A classic beach break, you’ll catch loads of peaks extending down a large length of Portuguese golden sand. When things do start picking up, Sao Juliao can suffer from heavy closeouts.
Surf spots in north Ericeira
Praia da Empa
One of the first waves you’ll encounter as you head north out of Ericeira town is the speedy reef of Praia da Empa. There’s hardly a speck of sand between the rocky cliffs and the ocean here, so watch out for exposed rocks. Accessible on mid to high tides for a zippy, interior-tube right that’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping. Leave it to the pros!
The go-to arena for surf competitions in Ericeira for its reliable swells, Ribeira D’Ilhas almost always has something on offer. It’s on the northernmost edge of Ericeira, running under high cliffs at the end of a dusty track. Where the ocean meets the land, it rolls over a series of concealed reefs. They sculpt the NW currents into a lovely, long right hander. There’s also an outer section (harder) that falls off right-to-left.
On days when Coxos is really pumping, it can feel like the full punch of the Atlantic is forced into its tubing right-handers. Big barrels are the name of the game. They wedge up and roll quickly over jagged reefs that are infested with urchins (boots are a must). Spy on how the locals paddle in and out before you even attempt to get in the water – it’s something of an art. Experts only.
Push out even further north that Ribeira and you’ll come to the rocky cove of Sao Lourenco. A gold-sand beach opens onto what some consider to be the some of the finest big-wave sets in the country. On large swells, this one’s a playground for the XXL crowd with their sights set on Nazare. When things aren’t pumping so much, you can expect the right-hand reef to generate some rides that top 150 meters in length. There might be zero crowds but it’s only really for experts.
Where can I find surfboard rentals in Ericeira?
The N247 road that links the countless surf spots in Ericeira is like a montage of surf schools and surf shops. You’ll find the bulk of the places to rent a board in the heart of the town and spread out between the more expert-ready coves to the north. However, you’ll also catch a surfboard outfitters down on Foz do Lizandro, the go-to beginner surf spot in the region.
Where to stay on an Ericeira surf trip
The ever-growing popularity of Ericeira surf has brought more and more surf schools and surf hostels to this town. But before the waves hit the headlines, Ericeira was a popular retreat for Lisbon locals looking for a bit of Atlantic breeze and sun.
The result? There are all sorts of places to stay here. They go from sleek five-star resorts with stunning views of the ocean to low-cost surfer digs just steps from the most popular breaks. A few options to think about are:
Vila Gale Ericeira ($$$)
The plush Vila Gale Ericeira spreads over a plinth of salt-washed rocks just outside of the Praia dos Pescadores bay. It’s one of the grandest landmarks of the town, with plush and regal doubles that overlook the Atlantic directly. And when you really want to feel like a jet setter? Hit the pool – it’s literally metres away from where the waves roll in!
Ericeira Soul Guesthouse ($$)
This beautifully chic and modern aparthotel puts you smack back in the middle of Ericeira. The harbourside and pretty Praia dos Pescadores is right out front, while the surf spots are just to the north and south. However, when you lose from being a little further from the breaks, you gain in style. Doubles are brimming with organic woods and soothing tones of white. There are lovely walk-in showers. And just check out that breezy pool area with its sunbeds. Post surf chill, anyone?
Hostel & Surfcamp 55 ($)
Shared kitchen? Check. Bike rental? Check. Communal kitchen? Check. This low-key surf house has all the ingredients for an awesome trip to the Ericeira waves. The best bargains are on beds in the mixed dormitory, but all accommodations are a mere five minutes’ walking to the waves. An on-site board rental makes things nice and easy.
Travel essentials for anyone surfing in Ericeira
Before you get too carried away dreaming off the reefs and beach breaks of Ericeira, be sure to read on for a few helpful travel tips. These cover the basics of the town, from what currency you’ll need for the board rental to exactly how to arrive.
Where is Ericeira?
Hugging the Atlantic coast some 22 miles north of Lisbon, Ericeira is one of the larger towns you’ll encounter as you head away from the beautiful Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The town itself sits right on top of the famous Praia dos Pescadores – a gorgeous dash of golden sand that’s either side of the main surf breaks.
How to get to Ericeira
The closest thing you’ll get to a flight to Ericeira is a flight to Lisbon. They arrive at Portela Airport. It’s around just 30 minutes’ drive away. Airlines include low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet. Connections in the off-season months of the winter can cost as little as £15 each way – you’ve just got to be sure to book early.
It costs under €7 per person to get from Lisbon to Ericeira. Look for the station at Campo Grande, from where connections go regularly. Links are more often in the summer but do run all year.
How to get around Ericeira
Walk the old town – seriously, it’s one of the joys of being here. It might not take you to the Ericeira surf breaks, but there’s nothing like navigating cobbled lanes lined littered with cafés and bars.
Some geniuses in Ericeira have stolen the idea of a ski bus from their winter compadres in the Alps. A dedicated shuttle now runs routes between Ribeira D’Ilhas and Foz do Lizandro in the south, connecting all the best beach breaks and spots. It’s a mere €1 for a ride. Each shuttle is armed with a designated surfboard storage spot. Nice, eh?
What’s the currency in Ericeira
You’ll pay with euros (€) in Ericeira. This is Portugal – remember!
There are couple of ATMs around the centre of the town.
This is an ultimate guide to Ericiera surf. That means we’re constantly updating and adding to it – otherwise it would hardly be ultimate. If you think we’ve missed anything, or just want to drop us a line, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.