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Portugal / Central Portugal

Waves, surf and shelter in Nazaré – Portugal

The sea is quite calm today. Today it is only a little windy in Nazaré, but on the other hand it is windy almost all the time here. The beach Nazaré Beach looks like a candy store from above, with all the sunbathers protecting themselves from the sun and wind with both colorful parasols and windbreaks. If you don't have a windbreaker with you, you can buy one in every shop along the beach. For only 3 euros you escape the cold sea winds. A man stands on a cliff at the edge of the turquoise sea and makes a bid for a dive. With water this clear, you don't have to worry about diving on a rock.

Nazaré - Portugal

Nazaré's main beach Nazaré Beach has been voted several times as one of Portugal's best estates, but despite its popularity we only meet Portuguese tourists. Maybe the Swedes stay in the slightly warmer climate down in the Algarve? Here in Nazaré you have to be a little brave to swim, even during July and August.

After the high summer months, the city is filled with people, but after the holiday season, the sunbathing tourists stop coming to Nazaré. The color explosion of parasols and sun protection diminishes and disappears during autumn. But in Nazaré, the tourist season doesn't end when the beaches empty, it just changes shape. Because now the surfing season begins.

Nazaré - Portugal

The beach Norte Beach north of Nazaré is known for its big waves. In fact, even the world's biggest waves. Beneath the foaming sea surface lies a large underwater ravine, which acts as a large breakwater for the long Atlantic waves. During stormy days with high tide, the waves here at the beach can therefore be over 30 meters high(!). For the vast majority of tourists, perhaps this storm would discourage them. But for surfers, this is peak season. When the storms come to Nazaré, then the surfers come to town.

Nazaré - Portugal

A man sits and looks out over the sea. There aren't many surfers out today, but I can count a handful of enthusiasts waiting for the perfect wave. A car is a little badly parked right next to the beach. It has rust stains on the hood. I recognize the symptom from my mother's old red Alfa Romeo that she bought used on the west coast. If there are rust marks on the hood, you know that the car was owned by a surfer who transported his wet surfboards on the roof.

A public bus stands along the road to the lighthouse selling souvenirs with pictures of the biggest wave officially surfed out here. It was in 2011, when a Hawaiian surfer named Garrett McNamara officially set a world record when he surfed a 78-foot (24-meter) high wave here. The picture almost looks photoshopped. Can you really surf such high waves? Apparently there is photo evidence that the same surfer and another colleague after the record also surfed a 100 foot high wave out here. But the height of that wave is not officially confirmed.

Nazaré - Portugal

We walk down to Praia da Nazaré again and feel the water. Even the daughter can't imagine bathing. A few brave Portuguese run down to the sea in the hot sand, dip and run back up and throw themselves behind their shelter. The behavior of the bathers here is a bit like when we bathe in the winter and roll in the snow to cool down a little. In any case, the effect is the same. Not many people are bobbing on the waves on their inflatable flamingo on this beach.

Nazaré - Portugal

Praia da Nazaré is clean, bright and beautiful. The Portuguese next to us take out their packed lunch behind their windbreak. It looks like the whole family has been hiding there behind the windbreak. Pretty practical anyway, maybe I should buy a home with me? A windbreak like that works even on a windy day out at Sandhamn.

Nazaré - Portugal

The lifeguard doesn't look like he has much to do, rather he looks like he's looking forward to the surf season. The few people who are at the water's edge seem mostly interested in taking some photos of the beautiful beach and the turquoise sea. Much like us. We walk towards the mountain train to the old town and the cliffs. I already forgot that I was going to buy a wind shield. I have to put it on the list of "things to do in Nazaré next time I'm here". About the same place as "watch the world's biggest waves". Because today there will definitely be no world record waves.

Keen to read more about Nazaré? Check out the page Dried fish and sunbathers in Nazaré.

Nazaré - Portugal

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About the blogger

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

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