Guide to Surfing in Sagres, Algarve Portugal

Surfing in Sagres is fantastic due to its unique location on the southwest tip of the Algarve. Two coastlines come together here resulting in exposure to swell from different directions and almost always something to surf in the area. With beaches on both the west and south coast, driving around this little surf town you can almost always find a wave. Surf on the west coast for big swell coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. When the waves get too big on the west coast, you can still surf on the south coast, with protection from the wind and the large oceanic swells.

 

Tonel Sagres
Tonel the most popular surf beach in Sagres.

The Town Sagres

Sagres is a small village surrounded by nature with a population of about 2.000, nowadays everything in this little fishing village is about surfing. You can find all the basics here supermarkets, restaurants, gas station, bars, accommodation and camping, the small town also offers surf camps and surf shops. Sagres is the most southwestern point of continental Europe. With dramatic cliff views Cape St.Vincent was believed to be the western tip and end of the world for centuries. Nowadays the town is very popular among surfers and tourists with campervans. Sagres is a great place to stay if you are here for surfing, if you are looking for a bigger place with more tourist attraction and a night life, the town Lagos, 30 km away is a great option. See our guide to Surfing in Lagos. If you enjoy hiking, consider walking the Fishermen’s Trail, a stunning 230 km hiking trail along rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, stunning lookouts and charming towns that pass through Sagres.

Surf Lessons and Board Rental in Sagres

There are about 10 surf shops in the main road of this small town, most doing rental and offering lessons. There is a restaurant on Tonel beach with a shop renting boards, wetsuits and offering lessons below the beach restaurant. Board rental starts at EUR10 per hour, wetsuit rental EUR5 per hour and a 3 hour lesson for EUR60.

Surf spots in the town Sagres

There are plenty of surf beaches surrounding Sagres, from Faro in the South East to Arrifana in the South West, all within driving distance. Close to town the best waves are on the west coast in towns like Arrifana, Carrapateira and Cordoama, all a short drive from town. Sagres only has two surf beaches walking distance from the center of town, Praia do Tonel on the west side and Praia da Mareta on the south side.

Praia do Tonel

Sitting beneath the high cliffs on the west side of Sagres, alongside Ponta de Sagres, Tonel beach is located on the southwesterly tip of Portugal. A beautiful large beach with soft golden sand backed by steep cliffs of red sandstone and hard rock. Known for strong currents and large waves in winter when westerly swell hits the exposed beach. The surrounding cliffs protect the beach from the north wind. There are some rocks in the water, so be careful when swimming. Just off shore there is a big rock that sticks out called Lion Rock, it is popular to fish from here. Tonel beach is walking distance from Sagres town with plenty of parking. It is popular for surfers to stay here in campervans. It is a steep walk on a gravel road from the parking area to the beach. In summer there are lifeguards on duty at Tonel.

Tonel beach Sagres
Surfers getting ready on Tonel beach Sagres. The beach from Lion rock to Forteleza ford can be seen here.

Facilities Praia do Tonel

There is a beach bar on the sand at Praia do Tonel that sells food (burgers, toasties, coffee, drinks). On the beach underneath the bar is a shop for surf rentals and lessons.

  • Beach – 400m sandy beach
  • Blue Flag beach
  • Lifeguards: yes
  • Sunbeds: no
  • Parking: yes
  • Restaurant: yes
  • Surfboard Rental: yes

Surfing at Sagres – Praia do Tonel

Tonel is the main surf spot in Sagres town picking up west swell from the Atlantic. The surrounding headlands tones it down it bit by offering some protection. This is a peaky beach break that shifts with the sandbanks. Both left and right-handers can be surfed here. On a good day Tonel produces hollow, powerful waves on the sandy bottom. This isolated spot can get crowded, it is a good spot for intermediate and advanced surfers.

surf sagres tonel in summer
Surfing in Sagres at Tonel beach. Small waves, a typical summer day.

When facing the ocean from Tonel beach there is a rocky point to your right, climbing over the rocks there is a little ‘hidden beach’. With small conditions a nice mellow wave breaks in this bay.

surfing tonel beach sagres extension
The extension of Tonel beach to the right often has a nice wave to surf.

Best Surf Conditions for Tonel, Sagres

Best Swell Direction – West and North West Swell, Tonel can handle big swell and offers the best waves for surfing with swell from a West or North West direction. The spot starts working at 1.0m-1.5m / 3ft-5ft and holds up well over 3m+ / 10ft+. Local windswells and distant groundswells can result in nice waves

Wind direction – North East winds brings good surf conditions

Best Tide to Surf Tonel – the spot works all tides

Water Temperature at Tonel

Water temperature varies between 14C and 20C irrespective of season. The water in the Algarve is on the cold side, very seldom there are days that you can surf in board shorts. If you want to stay in the water for more than an hour a full length 4/3mm suit is recommended.

Surf Hazards at Tonel in Sagres

  • There can be strong rip currents.
  • There are rocks in the shallows, so keep an eye out and be careful
  • Be aware and careful of surfers learning. Surf schools sometimes have big groups that stick together wearing the same color rashvest
  • Respect the locals, always stick to general surfing rules.
surf tonel sagres surf school
Learning to surf at Tonel, Sagres is very popular with surf schools.

Things to do at Praia do Tonel

Tonel is a beautiful beach, but spending the day here is not everybody’s cup of tea. If you want to go to a beautiful beach with few people where swimming is only suited for strong swimmers you will love it here. Praia do Tonel is a bit isolated. The sand is nice, it is not a crowded beach, and since it is sheltered by the surrounding cliffs the wind is less on the beach. Facilities are limited. Ocean conditions can be rough with strong currents.

Surfing is the most popular sport in Sagres, but Tonel is also good for diving with plenty of marine life and kite surfing and wind surfing with the right conditions.

Cape of St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente)
Spectacular cliffs of Cape of St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) , the most southwestern tip of continental Europe 6km from Sagres.

Visit Cape of St. Vincent (Cabo de São Vicente) , the most southwestern tip of continental Europe 6km from Sagres. Spectacular cliffs, ocean views, a little ford with a lighthouse marking what was previously believed to be the end of the world.

Visit Fortaleza de Sagres, a sea fort with a fortified wall and three natural cliffs dropping into the surrounding Atlantic ocean providing protection for defenders. You can walk over the fortress walls and discover the open area of the point of the cape, great sea-views, nice for a leisurely walk.

Fortaleza de Sagres
Fortaleza de Sagres is a popular site to visit.

Getting to Tonel Sagres

Driving is the easiest way to get around in the Algarve, we use Rentalcar for the best deals to book car rentals. Drive towards the fortress of Sagres on the N268 turn right at a sign indicating Praia do Tonel. There is a car parking and a steep walk down to the beach. Go to Sagres Tonel Parking with your GPS. You can also park in town close to Mareta beach, Caffe Espresso Sagres is a 700m walk from Tonel.

Sagres surfing algarve

Best Time to Surf in Tonel

Winter is the best time of year for surfing Tonel with consistent clean waves from westerly swells. December is the month with the most rideable swell with light / offshore or cross-offshore wind conditions

Praia da Mareta

Praia da Mareta is a large sandy beach right in Sagres town. The beach is located in a bay, flanked by cliffs on both sides and is well protected from swell and wind. This results in flat conditions, great for swimming at this massive town beach in Sagres. Mareta is a beautiful beach, with soft sand, calm conditions most of the time and is very popular with families for swimming and sunbathing. It is not often possible to surf at Praia da Mareta, but with the right conditions it can produce some nice waves.

Praia de Mareta Facilities

  • Beach – 700m sandy beach
  • Blue Flag beach
  • Lifeguards: yes
  • Sunbeds: yes
  • Umbrellas: yes
  • Parking: yes
  • Restaurants: yes

Best Surf Conditions for Praia da Mareta, Sagres

Best Swell Direction – South Swell, Mareta works on south swell, this tends to be short period swell produced close by that is less powerful. Small-medium swell, up to 1.5m tends to result in good waves.

Wind direction – North west is off shore resulting in good waves

Best Tide to Surf Tonel – usually best from low to mid tide

Water Temperature at Mareta

Water temperature varies between 15C and 20C irrespective of season. The water in the Algarve is cold, very seldom there are days that you can surf in board shorts. If you want to stay in the water for more than an hour a full length 4/3mm suit is recommended.

Surf Hazards at Mareta Beach in Sagres

  • There are rocks in the shallows on the sides of the beach, so keep an eye out and be careful
  • Respect the locals, always stick to general surfing rules.

Things to do at Praia da Mareta

Praia da Mareta is a large protected beach with nice sand located inside the town of Sagres. This is a great beach for swimming and sunbathing. This is also a good beach for other watersports like diving, kayaking, SUP and windsurfing with the right conditions.

Getting to Praia da Mareta

Drive towards the fortress of Sagres on the N268 turn left at the final circle, there is a big parking area overlooking Mareta Beach. With your GPS drive to Caffe Espresso Sagres across the road from the Mareta Beach Parking.

Surf spots around Sagres

Sagres is surrounded by plenty of awesome surf spots within 30 minutes drive and is the perfect spot to stay during a surf mission. On the west coast the surf is consistent, becomes heavy with big winter swell. The south coast is not very consistent with less rideable days, but has some great beginner spots.

Surf the Algarve West Coast

Beliche – close to Sagres, a real wedge that produces hollow waves breaking in shallow water with the right conditions, beautiful wave, popular with bodyboarders 5 minutes drive from Sagres

Carrapateira – beautiful spot below the cliffs, pics up a lot of swell and can get heavy with some hollow sections, for more experienced surfers – 20 km from Sagres 20 minute drive

Praia de Arrifana – awesome consistent spot suitable for all levels, a beach break with plenty of peaks and fast point break with some hollow sections. 50 minutes drive

Surf the Algarve South Coast

Zavial – A nice consistent wave breaking along the southern Algarve cliffs. A fast barreling point break and a beach break with a couple of peaks.

Porto de Mos (Lagos) – The beach break at the beautiful Porto de Mos beach is the most consistent break in Lagos and often produces fun waves. Surfing at Porto de Mos is best with South swell or large North West Swell.

surfing Porte de Mos in Lagos
Surfing Porte de Mos Lagos on a small day.

Learning to Surf in Sagres

Driving through Sagres you will notice there are more surf shops than cafes It is a great place to learn to surf with a choice of waves, warm weather and plenty of surf schools and surf instructors. There are several surf camps around Sagres with courses generally being 1, 3 or 5 days.

Accommodation in Sagres

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