When I am writing this words, sitting in Krakow, I have almost 600 kilometers to the nearest sea, and that’s Baltic. From Prague, it’s a bit less (500 km) but it’s still the same Sea. I have been fascinated by the big blue since I can remember. That interest was born out of two things. Firstly, from dreaming about being somewhere else than my hometown. Secondly, from adventure stories about explorers or pirates. I still have in mind the very first time when I had sand beneath my feet, the seemingly endless horizon of azure in front of me, and the sound of waves all around. I was 5 and I got enchanted for life. Now, I love to come back to a shore, any shore, to rediscover that feeling. Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Malaysia… Everywhere I had to spend some time at the coast. Nonetheless, the closest I ever got to that initial magic was so far in Portugal. You might have read Miška’s text about the seaside in that country, but what we kept for a separate text is surfing. Let’s jump on board.
Surfing is a huge industry in Portugal. The country gives you access to waves of all sizes and sorts which makes it the ideal location for surfers of every level. It is a good place to learn the sport and is the home to many schools and private instructors. The best spot of all, in my eyes, is Peniche. Our tight schedule didn’t allow us to try it ourselves, but it remains in our plans, one of many reasons why we want to go back to Portugal. Especially, because we have witnessed the joy, the fun and the adventure behind surfing. What is more, we have fallen in love in the area of the abovementioned Peniche. I believe that photos reflect that feeling. One might ask for details, so here they are.
Peniche as a base
From Peniche you can go South to, probably, the most famous beach for surfers, and not only, which is a host to the Rip Curl Pro event. Both, the place and its waves, are called Supertubos. Supertubes - perfect, straight waves breaking in a beautiful, everlasting symmetry of the Atlantic Ocean’s rhythm. We watched blossoming supertubos and felt the buzz of a Rip Curl event - a unique experience on its own accord, even without knowing how to surf.
From Peniche you can go North to probably the friendliest beach for anybody who would like to learn how to surf. The feeling is enhanced by the amount of schools operating there, from both Peniche and nearby Baleal. The beach itself and views which you can witness are also amazing.
Big waves of Nazaré
When ‘waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear’ [Buzzy Trent], then there’s only one place that comes to mind - Nazaré. You can reach this small town from Peniche too, just like so many other places in the Oeste region. Nonetheless, only in Nazaré, you can witness something extraordinary: big waves. By writing ‘big waves’ I mean REALLY big waves. Think tsunami. It’s difficult to imagine those monsters of 20, and more, meters in hight! There, the last year (2017), Rodrigo Koxa has set a new world record and got an award for riding a 24 meters wave. A true daredevil, right?
My personal interest in surfing was built by two films: the ‘Point Break’ (the original one, with Patrick Swayze), and the ‘Chasing Mavericks’. Both have shown that surfing is not only about a board, and waves. Above all, it is about one’s mindset. It is a certain way of life, one that gives a sense of belonging not only to the community of similar athletes but to nature itself. This vision was confirmed by our friends, who surf, and by some of the sportsmen who you can follow on the Internet. Kelly Slater said that ‘when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time’, while Eric Carlson writes that ‘life is like riding a wave. To keep your balance, you need to keep moving.’ How not to love that tribe?
Stay tuned, there will come a day when we will try! Beforehand: did you? What’s your favourite spot for surfing? Please share in the comments below.