SURFING CAMP

Whether you are a beginner looking for a small wave or a pro wanting to challenge bigger waves, Madeira offers great conditions for surfing camp.

Madeira Islands are considered by many surfers as the Hawaii of Europe. The quality of the waves, the water temperature and the climate, with an annual average of 21 degrees, the sun, stunning landscapes and proximity to the European continent makes Madeira a destination for surfing.

“Secret places” known only to the natives, which you can reach only by boat, allow to surf on the unique and best waves. Due to its strategic location, Madeira experienced big swells that rise and fall too quickly. The weather conditions make it possible to surf all year around with several surf spot locations.

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Madeira – A paradise for surfing in the Atlantic

Madeira with its green mountains by the sea, its small villages and the mild temperature that lasts all year round dazzles many of the European tourists.

Its short distance from the European continent (less than 2h flight from Lisbon) makes it the favorite destination of thousands of nature lovers year round.

In recent years the island has been focusing on nature sports surf is no exception. Madeira boasts inviting waters year-round (with temperatures between 18 and 22ºC) and breathtaking scenery that has charmed many surfers visiting the region, for this reason it has been called the Hawaii of Europe.

Pros

  • Large Wave Spots
  • Spectacular Mountain Scenery
  • No Crowds
  • Calm and safe environment typical of an island
  • Idyllic climate

Cons

  • Few spots
  • Dangerous entry and exits in some spots

Surf in Madeira – a very short story

The history of surfing in Madeira is not very long.

Surfing first surfaced in Madeira in the 1970s. The first person to surf in the legendary Jardim do Mar was French surfer and journalist Gibus de Soultrait in 1977: “When I got up on the wave, they (the people of Jardim do Mar) finally discovered what surfing meant … The experience I shared with the people of Jardim do Mar in 1977 will remain with me as a souvenir of Madeira for life. For me, Madeira was a dream come true.”

In the following years several surfers passed by Madeira but the world continued oblivious to the waves in Madeira, a hidden jewel of the world of surf.

Despite the unique conditions of the Island, that make it a paradise for surfing, Madeira only begun to attract the attention of the international surfing community in the 90’s, when it was featured in several magazines linked to the sport.

In 1994 an article in Surfer Magazine left the global surf community in shock. The photos showed Evan Slater and Ross Williams surfing giant, clean waves on an island somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. According to the article the island had the best point break on the planet.

In the following years many were the renowned surfers that came to Madeira looking to discover the island and the positive reviews pilled in:

“The highlight of my life as a surfer.” – João Valente

“It felt like paradise.” – Tony Butt

“The best wave point break on the planet.” – Surfer Magazine

Madeira hosted two international events: the Big Wave Championship at Jardim do Mar and the Hot Butter Challenge at Ponta Pequena where big-wave surfers such as Peter Mel and Vetea David participated.

The modality seemed to be launched in the region!

However in the early 2000’s surfing in Madeira stood out for all the wrong reasons: the destruction of some of the best surf spots on the island. In order to protect the coastal dwellings the local government built several concrete walls around the island making many of the spots difficult to access or dangerous for surfing.

Bad publicity had a major impact on the international community and surfing on Madeira seemed to have come to an end. For years, Madeira was forgotten as a surf destination.

The rebirth of surfing in Madeira

More than 10 years later, thanks to the perseverance of some of the locals, lovers of the sport, surf in Madeira seems to be back. Many spots, previously forgotten, are now brigging surfers to Madeira Island and fans of the sport on the island have grown considerably. Portugal is one of the countries where the surffing community has grown the most in recent years and Madeira is no exception to the country’s trends.

Many are the big names in surf that have happened to stop by.

Names like Grant “Twiggy” Baker and Garret McNamara who longed to discover this hidden paradise.

“This is my first time in Madeira. I had already seen that there were many fantastic waves here. (…) This spot (Jardim do Mar) is very beautiful: a paradise for surfers. Madeira has very good conditions for surfing.” – Grant “Twiggy” Baker

“Madeira is very similar to Hawaii. There are so many perfect point breaks … it’s like the heaven for surfing. – Garret McNamara

What is so special about surfing in Madeira?

To answer this question there is nothing like giving the floor to one of those in love with the sport:

“Because it is an older island, it has a deeper shore which is good for surfing, allowing for very large waves that burst over a deeper bathymetry. And there we found several waves of these that burst very close to the coast.” – Pedro Bicudo.

If we add to this the fact that the island has very few surfers, its stunning scenery, local culture, good food, friendliness and hospitality of the locals and dozens of other nature activities developed on the island; the question that remains is: what isn’t special about Madeira?

I’ve heard that surfing in Madeira is dangerous and only for professionals. Is it true?

Madeira is a volcanic island with few sandy beaches and the few we can find have black sand (the ones that are not artificial at least). Most of the beaches are with pebbles or “calhau” (local term for small rocks). In some places getting in and out of the water can be tricky. Local surfers often say there is no such thing as new surfboards in Madeira. It’s easy to scrape yourself in the little rocks and get some souvenirs from the trip if you do not know what you’re doing. Some of the sites are at the base of cliffs and feature waves up to 8 meters that are not suitable for amateurs.

However, Madeira has lots of places for beginners in the sport. In recent years Madeira has received surfers from all levels – from beginners to professionals. Surf schools have sprung up around the region and professionals ready to take beginners to the most appropriate places are not hard to find.

Surf season in Madeira

Simmilarly to Portugal and practically the rest of Europe the ideal time for surfing in Madeira is in the winter, when the best waves arrive. Between November and February we find the highest consistency and the best average wave size.

You can surf in Madeira all year round but we don’t recommend the period between July and August, which has the lowest consistency of waves and the lowest average wave size.

Boards: what to bring?

The island has waves of all sizes. If you are in the mood to surf the big waves we advise boards from 6’1″ to 8’2″. One Short and two Long John’s as well as clothes for the cold. Do not forget all the essential accessories (cord, paraffin, etc.).

If you don’t want to carry your house arround with you there is always the posibility to rent all the necessary equipment in the Island.

Top spots in the Island

The best surf spots are on the west coast.

The visiting surfers usually choose to stay in the villas of Jardim do Mar or Paúl do Mar which has the most consistent points. This area usually offers the best locations as it is usually protected from NE winds. During the most tempestuous weather, the North coast is only a 40-minute drive and is generally protected from the south winds. However due to the high coastal cliffs, on some days the wind can wrap around the island which makes almost all the island’s spots difficult to surf.

The most consistent points on the island are Ponta Pequena and Paúl do Mar on the southwest coast and Fajã da Areia on the north coast.

The Madeira Surfing Association recently launched a guide with the 11 best spots on the island:

  1. Jardim do Mar:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds NE
  • Low tide
  1. Ponta Pequena:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds NE
  • Low tide
  1. Paul do Mar:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds NE
  • High tide
  1. Fajã da Ovelha:
  • Advanced level
  • Waves N/NW
  • Winds NE
  • Low tide
  1. Ponta do Pargo:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW
  • Winds NE
  • Low tide
  1. Achadas da Cruz:
  • Intermediate level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds ENE/NO
  • Low and high tide
  1. Porta do Tristão:
  • Advanced level
  • Waves N/NW
  • Winds SW/W/NO
  • Low ride
  1. Ribeira da Janela:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW
  • Ventos SW/W
  • Low tide
  1. Contreiras:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds SW/W
  • Low tide
  1. Esquerda de São Vicente:
  • Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W
  • Winds SW/W
  • Low tide
  1. Fajã da Areia:
  • Beginner, Intermediate and advanced level
  • Waves N/NW/W/NE
  • Winds SW/W/N
  • Low, middle and high tide

On the southwest side, we can find 5 spectacular breaks for NE winds. The Jardim do Mar is the most famous place but only advised to experienced surfers.

A few kilometers to the north we can find three world-class spots: Ponta Pequena, Paúl do Mar, and Fajã da Ovelha. With the N / NW / W winds, the waves reach up to 5 meters. However in Ponta do Pargo you can find bigger waves reaching sometimes the mark of 15 meters.

On the north-west side of Madeira, we can find two fabulous breaks: Achadas da Cruz and Porta do Tristão. Both spots are good at low tide.

For beginners catching their first waves we advise Fajã da Areia. Under favorable conditions, the waves reach up to 2 meters.

For the point break enthusiast, there is Ribeira da Janela, Contreiras, and Esquerda de São Vicente.

Madeira is still an uncrowded surf destination and we recommend it whether you are a beginner or a pro.

Each location is different and each wave is magical around here. It will be difficult to choose your favourite spot.

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