The Ultimate Guide to Faro Surfing

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Faro surfing is some of the remoter, less-known surf in the Portuguese Algarve. Find it on pristine golden beaches near authentic local towns.

Faro wave

Faro surf at a glance

The good:

  • Not so busy as the western Algarve
  • Lovely warm water
  • Stunning beaches

The bad:

  • Not much variety
  • Not really a surf destination in its own right
  • Can be flat as a pancake in the summer
  • A little touristy around the resort areas

This is a part of our greater guide to surfing Portugal.

What will I find in this guide to Faro surf

An introduction to Faro surfing

The cobbled lanes and cantinas of the cidade velha of old Faro town instantly let you know that you’ve discovered one of the more authentic corners of the Algarve. Further east than the resorts of Albufeira, this is a place where the beaches are quieter and the waves – thankfully – are emptier. But there are still waves…

A car is a must to find the best of them. Having your own wheels can take you out to the beaches of Fuzeta or Praia da Falesia. They are known primarily for their light and welcoming beach breaks. And if that sounds like it’s a beginner’s heaven, that’s because it is! In fact, Faro surfing, being sat in this rather sheltered corner of the Algarve, is some of the mushiest the country has to offer. Come summer, the downside is that it can be flatter than a giant flat thing.

Adding to all that is the relative accessibility of Faro surf. The main Algarve Airport (or Faro Airport) is served by countless direct flights from all over Europe. And it’s close to the beaches and breaks. You could touchdown and be checking into a surf school in as little as 20 minutes.

If you’re wondering what we really think of the Faro region as a surf destination, let’s put it like this: Don’t come solely for the waves. If you want an out-and-out surf trip there are better options in Portugal (Sagres and Peniche come to mind). But, if you’re keen to swim, sunbathe and enjoy good seafood between the odd beginner surf lesson, Faro surfing could be for you!

Where is Faro?

Faro straddles the ocean and the inland of the Algarve. It’s the town at the heart of the Faro region, which runs from the wetlands and lagoons of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa to dusty hills clad in olive trees and palms. The city itself is about 5km from the coast at its closest point. The popular resort areas of southern Portugal begin with Vilamoura around 28 minutes’ drive to the west. Going eastwards, it won’t be long until you reach Spain – the border is just 45 minutes by car.

Faro beach

Faro surf spot guide

Faro surfing might not be up there with the likes of Peniche or Sagres, but it’s got some darn decent spots up its sleeve…

Praia de Faro

Faro beach

This should be the number one spot on the radar if you’re basing your surf trip in Faro town itself. A short 15-minute drive from the centre through the lagoon, it’s a long beach break. The wave quality is basically beginners only, except on the largest of days. That’s why there are lots of Faro surfing schools dotting the streets immediately behind the beach.

Anything from 2-3ft is normal on good days. After that, there can be closeouts, but flat days are likely to be the greater threat. Peaks vary considerably, although it’s mostly mushy stuff that’s fun to ride. A few wedges are nice A-frames (often occupied by the local crew) that work consistently throughout the winter months. The best part is that there’s over 5km of beachfront in total – you can easily find a place to be alone. Watch out for shifting conditions with the altering of the sandbanks after storms.

Praia da Falesia

Praia da Falesia

Praia da Falesia is a stunning sand beach that’s close to the popular golf and holiday resort of chic Vilamoura. At its westernmost end is a manmade harbour wall jetty that creates one of the best left-handers in the area. It’s a sand-bottomed break that works nicely on 3ft+. Expect the shape to be wedge like and offer short rights but longer rippable lefts. Water is clean. Usually uncrowded. Some good residential surf camps in the nearby region.

Fuzeta Beach (Fuseta)

Faro surfing also extends out to the east. That’s where you’ll find the small fishing town of Fuseta. The beach itself is actually on a barrier island just across the lagoon. You can reach it by swimming, but most choose to take the ferry from the downtown pier. The only question is whether you think it’s worth it. Fuzeta Beach is more sheltered again than its neighbors in Praia de Faro and Vilamoura. If everywhere else is small, it’s likely to be tiny. Perhaps leave this one for a day on the SUP?

The best hotels and Faro surfing schools with accommodation

Hotel Faro & Beach Club ($$$)

Hotel Faro & Beach Club is slick and modern, with a gorgeous sun terrace gazing down at the Faro marina. Located in the town itself, it’s about 15 minutes’ drive to the main surf. Luxury awaits on return from a day on the waves, with a pool and marble-clad bathrooms.

Booking.com

Mira Parque ($$)

Mira Parque sits near the golf courses and golden sands of Praia da Falesia (probably the most challenging of all Faro surf breaks). It’s got a small pool in a charming garden. And you’ll find some cosy, rustic rooms to bed down in.

Booking.com

Faro Beach Life Hostel ($)

Faro Beach Life Hostel is located perfectly for surfers in Faro – just on the edge of the island of Faro Beach. The waves (when they are working) will be just a stroll away. The accommodation is dorm-based and adults only, with a fun vibe that means sharing beers and meals on the terrace is the norm.

Booking.com

A season guide for anyone surfing Algarve waves

Surfing Algarve waves is a trickier business than surfing the waves of, say, Ericeira or Peniche. Because the coastline here bends eastwards, you don’t get the full crack of the whip from the Atlantic Ocean. That naturally means that groundswells taper off. In addition, the unique geography of the shore – with steep cliffs, sandbanks, lagoons, and dunes – helps to temper the strength of the sets that do get through. Let’s take a look at what you can expect at different times of the year in this corner of Portugal…

Autumn/winter (October-April)

Sorry, sun seekers – the colder months of the year offer the prime time to surf Faro. Granted, the weather isn’t as good. You don’t get weeks on end of scorching sunshine and temperatures in the 30s. But you do get the dominant swell direction and a bit more punch from the Atlantic. That can bring waves that go overhead on occasion. They make the harbour wall spot at Praia da Falesia pretty fast as a left-hander and can add some good challenges to the peaks on Faro Beach itself. Wetsuits are needed. Booties and hoods optional (but we’d pack just in case).

Summer surfing

Spring/summer (May-September)

You might have some joy towards the start and end of the spring and summer season. That’s when offshores and N-NW wind and groundswells can be found still rolling up into the Med channel from the ocean. But don’t get your hopes up. The chances are that this end of the Algarve will be flat most of the time from May onwards. To get reliable waves, you’re looking at a drive down the coast to Sagres.

High summer surfing
Faro town

Surf shops in Faro

Because Faro doesn’t have the same booming surf scene as Sagres (yet), there aren’t as many surf stores in the area. There are a few worth noting down on the map before you fly in though…

Pipeline Surf Shop

This locally-owned shop is the go-to spot for gear in Faro’s old town. It’s small but has plenty in stock. For hardware, you’ll find nice Al Merrick shorts and long beginner Torq boards. Clothes wise, there are boardies, rash vests and wetsuits to fit the Portuguese surf season. In addition, they look like a friendly bunch!

Where to eat in Faro

Faro’s historic centre has plenty of traditional Portuguese eateries. Settle in to get a taste of the region’s seafood and meat. Or, pick something a little different for a vegan lunch. It’s up to you…

Sem Tempo

Sem Tempo is a local’s favourite that sits just to the north of the Faro old town. It’s just the thing if you’re looking to sample and authentic Algarvian tavern. Of course, that means loads of meat. Kebabs, surf and turf, BBQ skewers – you name it. A huge pan of chips seems to be the side of choice.

l’Osteria

l’Osteria is a taste of rustic Italia on the south coast of Portugal. Fresh carpaccio and mozzarella sharing platters can be followed by cheesy pastas and seafood plates inspired by the Boot. There are also pizzas up for grabs. The inside is cosy and warm (check out the log fire), but the alfresco sitting is where you’ll want to be for people watching.

Outro Lado

100% vegan Outro Lado is the place for a fix of plant-based nourishment in Faro. It’s got green bagels and make-believe fried eggs next to curries and intriguing salads. There’s also a nice mix of eco wines and locally made beers on the menu.

Faro surf coast

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Faro

Faro surfing isn’t the most consistent in the country. So, what will you do on those inevitable flat days? Which beaches will keep the suntan browning? Are there any unique cultural treasures to get stuck into? You bet…

Ria Formosa Lagoon

The whole of the Ria Formosa estuary is now a protected nature park. It’s a wonderful corner of the south Algarve, with flat farmlands meeting sloshing waterways. A day spent boating around the islets and channels is a must. There are barrier island beaches to get stuck into (some of which even have their own surf breaks), small fishing towns with bars and seafood restaurants, and even birding spots where you can see cuckoos and flamingos!

Rio Formosa Lagoon

Cidade Velha

The Cidade Velha is the historic core of Faro itself. It’s sure to help you forget about the flat conditions with its mix of lovely Moorish architecture and charming stone-topped streets. A day here can easily be spent people watching in the roadside cafes or taking photographs of the flower-covered Algarvian cottages that line the alleys. Also don’t miss those centuries-old city walls and arched gateways – they’re pretty impressive.

Cidade Velha

This ultimate guide to Faro surfing is always being updated and changed. If you think we’ve missed something or gotten something wrong, we’d sure love you to get in touch. You can use email or just drop a message in the comments below.

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