The Ultimate Guide to Peniche Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Peniche surf spots reign as some of the most popular in all of Portugal. Read on to discover all about the local beach breaks, reefs, surf schools, and more…

Peniche surf

Surfing in Peniche at a glance

The good:

  • A huge variety of surf spots.
  • Supertubos – probably Europe’s most amazing barrelling beach break.
  • Top bars and vibrant nightlife.
  • Peniche surf lodge and surf schools options some of the best in the country.

The bad:

  • This ain’t the prettiest town!
  • A touch of localism in the harder breaks.

This article is a part of our larger guide to surfing Portugal.

What you’ll find in this guide

An introduction to Peniche surf

Peniche is perhaps the most famous of all Portugal’s surf towns. It straddles a headland that pokes into the Atlantic just over an hour’s drive north of Lisbon. Everything about the geography yells “surf mecca!”

Beaches arch out in both directions. Ranging from the wild coast north of Baleal all the way to Supertubos (Europe’s most legendary beach break), you’ll find all sorts to ride. There are sand-bottomed options for beginners. There are rocky reef sections for the pros. And there good A-frame spots for intermediates.

Yea, it might not be the prettiest place to wax down the fibre. But the wind’s usually offshore (just watch the spray!) and there’s a formidable variety that makes Peniche waves a magnet for all sorts.

When is the Peniche surf season?

Swell direction is predominantly from the north in Peniche. The various outcrops and sandbanks help to filter that into different spots for different levels. However, the changing of the seasons can shift things just enough to have a huge impact on Peniche waves. The barrels at Supertubos can look positively tame if you’re surfing in Peniche in August, for example. Come December, you can rest assured they’ll be roaring and overhead!

May-October (All levels)

Surfing in Peniche in August is uber-popular. The town draws everyone from surf campers to families. Months like July and September are similar in terms of waves, but much quieter (and cheaper). From spring to early autumn, you can expect much smaller swells and lighter winds. That said, this is the Atlantic, which means there’s always the chance of an overhead when things get pumping.

winter wetsuit

November-April (Intermediate/pro)

Winter can alter the prevailing swell direction a little to the north-west. That channels stronger groundswells straight into Peniche’s main bays. It converts spots like Papoa into mini Nazares. Even the easy beach breaks at Tupatur and Baleal can become beasts. The upshot? It might be best to leave the winter to the experts.

summer wetsuit
Peniche surfboard

Where are the best surfing spots in Peniche?

One thing’s for sure: Peniche has no shortage of surf spots! No one’s ever gone hungry for a knee-high swell, a classic Atlantic A-frame, or even a zippy beach barrel in these parts. However, before you book a Peniche surf lodge and start getting excited, it’s worth getting a feel for the lay of the land. Knowing where each break awaits can be the difference between flinging open your door onto a light sand bay or a gnarly reef.

Map of Peniche surf spots

Gigi

Running beneath the dunes on the north bay is the long boarder fav of Gigi (or Gigi’s). This one’s top in a rising tide with a SE wind. It gives both left and rights, with some nicely sculpted flatliners for those who want to sit in the pocket and enjoy the views. Not often crowded and great for beginners. Just be wary of some sand-covered rocks.

Prainha

If you’re heading to Peniche as a beginner surfer, Prainha is likely where you’ll first get wet. Protected from the dominant swells by Baleal Island, this one rolls nicely onto an open beachfront. It can get pretty busy, especially on incoming tides. That’s why we recommend rising early for a dawn patrol.

Cantinho da Baia

A classic Peniche surf spot that really showcases classic of Portuguese beach breaks, Cantinho da Baia crashes off the rocks that line the south side of Baleal island. Closest to the wall, it’s more protected and smaller – better for novices. As you move closer to the centre of the bay, the wedges get punchier and can peak overhead.

Papoa

The Peniche wave to rival Nazare is Papo. When the swells are up in winter and the onshores are pumping, this bad boy is for jet-ski pull outs and big drops. It rolls right across the reef that lines the town itself. Don’t even think about it if you’re not a pro big wave surfer!

Bananas

Bananas gets big in winter, and often closes out. In the summer, it can be the best Peniche wave around. Glassy walls break against sand, and there’s even an occasional mini barrel for the intermediates.

Supertubos

A beach break to put any in France to shame, Supertubos is famed the world over. It’s considered a baby version of iconic tube rides like the Banzai Pipeline and Uluwatu. The predominant direction is left, but the wave actually works in both directions. Southern swells help it hold up. When they aren’t on, you can expect some hefty close outs. Usually reserved for experienced surfers. Always expect a crowd.

Where can I find surfboard rentals in Peniche?

You won’t have to look very far to find a surfboard rental in Peniche. There are little cabanas set up just behind the sand. You’ll find them in Baleal and in Peniche itself, but also strung along the windy road that links the two.

There are also more full-on surf shops in Peniche than you can shake some Sex Wax at. What’s more, loads of surf lodges and hostels here offer packages that include use of boards and gear.

Remember – Peniche is wetsuit territory. The Atlantic is rarely warm enough for a rash vest and board shorts.

Where to stay on a Peniche surf trip

Because Peniche has risen to become one of the most popular surfing spots in all of Portugal, there are oodles of places to stay. From deluxe coast cottages and villas to party hostels, there’s something for all sorts of travelers.

The main thing is picking somewhere that puts you close to the Peniche surf spot that suits you the most. Usually that means going for accommodation in either Baleal or Peniche town itself. However, there are others along the roadsides going north, closer to Supertubos, and even in nearby Ferrel village. You can check out the map above to see if your hotel fits with the breaks you’re after.

Mercearia D’Alegria Boutique B&B ($$$)

Plus beds. A sun-kissed deck. Soothing interiors of muted colors. This is boutique through and through. On-site surf rentals are available. There’s also a tasty continental breakfast included.

Booking.com

Sun & Wave Apartment ($$)

Past guests wax lyrical about the awesome hosts and amazing views at Sun & Wave Apartment. Facing the dunes right on the edge of Peniche town, it’s certainly got the location sorted. Comfy beds, a cosy lounge, and a flat-screen TV only add to the draws. Book early, though – there’s a single apartment up for grabs.

Booking.com

Ferrel Surf House ($$)

As the name implies, this chic surf lodge is in the nearby village of Ferrel. It’s great if you’re keen to taste the Portuguese countryside – this area is all cornfields and whitewashed cottages. The rooms are modern with shared bathrooms, and there’s an on-site pool. The Ferrel Surf House also double as a Peniche surf school.

Booking.com

Pineapple Surf House ($)

This chilled surf hostel with its own pizza oven faces straight over the dunes back from Supertubos. You couldn’t stay any closer to Europe’s most iconic beach break!

Booking.com

Travel essentials for anyone surfing in Peniche

If you’ve decided a Peniche surf trip is totally the thing for you (and we don’t blame you!), be sure to read on. Below are some of the basics of hitting this surf mecca that all travelers should be aware of. From currency to transportation, it takes care of the basics…

Peniche Baleal

Where exactly is Peniche?

Peniche pokes straight into the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of Oeste Subregion. It’s around 1.5 by road from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. The town itself is sat on a circular headland that was once an island. These days, its accommodation and surf camps spread to the north and south, fringing famous beaches like Supertubos as they go.

How to get to Peniche

Low-cost airlines:

These days, there are oodles of budget airlines offering links into Lisbon Airport. That sits around 1.5 hours by direct drive from Peniche. Carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet share most of the routes, with connections to London Stansted, Bristol, and Edinburgh to name just a few. You can rent cars with roof racks for the surfboards in the terminal.

Premium airlines:

Being so close to Lisbon in Peniche means you can make use of a wide variety of the country’s premium airline arrives. TAP Portugal is one to watch. It has loads of connections landing at Humberto Delgado Airport in the capital. You’re talking as far afield as Chicago, Stockholm, and Rio!

Train:

You can get the train from Lisbon to Dagorda – Peniche station. That puts you inland at Obidos. From there, a car rental or a bus connection takes another 30 minutes to the beaches. (We don’t recommend this as the most convenient option – especially if you’re bringing surfboards).

Bus:

One of the most common and efficient ways to reach Peniche. Buses and coaches come in from lots of major cities in Portugal. You can arrive from Lisbon in 1.5 hours. And there are direct links that come down from Porto, stopping in coastal towns (and other surf destinations) like Nazare on the way. You’ll be dropped off on the south side of the Peniche old town.

How to get around Peniche

Foot:

You can organise a whole surf trip in Peniche without having to worry about renting a car. Most of the town is totally walkable. It’s center is typically Portuguese, with cobbled alleys and little pastel cafes. You might limit yourself to only a few of the Peniche surf breaks by doing this, however. It’s a little far to stroll from Peniche itself to Baleal and the waves beyond the headland there.

Car:

Car rentals in Portugal aren’t too expensive. We recommend you score a hire for the duration of your Peniche surfing trip, especially if you want to explore the real variety of breaks that run north and south up the coast.

Taxi:

A few taxi drivers serve the Peniche-Baleal areas. They tend to be a bit pricier than their compadres in Lisbon. Expect to pay around the 20 EUR mark to get from Peniche town to Ferrel.

What’s the currency in Peniche

Peniche is in Portugal. The currency is the euro (€).

There are cashpoints on offer in Peniche town itself. A whole load of them are concentrated around Rua Dom Luís de Atayde. One or two more are by the Parque do Baluarte.

The smaller fishing town of Baleal doesn’t have any cashpoints. In fact, there’s not even room for a bank between it’s cute little whitewashed cottages. However, you can just walk up to Ferrel (a nearby inland village) on the busy Av do Mar to get an ATM. That takes around 20-30 minutes.


Of course, we’ll always try to keep this ultimate guide to Peniche surf spots up to date. Otherwise it would hardly be ultimate, right? However, if you think we’ve missed something or have any questions about surfing in Peniche, be sure to leave a comment or get in touch. We’re always more than happy to chat about Portuguese waves!

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