Hawaiian surfer Garret McNamara broke two records surfing at Nazaré, PortugaI, one being a 78-foot wave in November 2011, the other being an about 100 foot wave in 2013. Nazaré is a quaint fishing village, not far from Portugal's capital city of Lisbon. Expert surfers flock to Nazaré as it is known for its incredible waves that are caused by an underwater canyon. When incoming swell waves hit the canyon, an interference happens, creating magnificent surfing conditions. The World Surf League even hosts the Nazaré Challenge, so if you aren't a professional surfer, you can at least spectate!
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Located in southwestern France, just a few kilometers away from Biarritz, is where you'll find Hossegor. Sometimes considered the surfing capital of Europe, Hossegor is a place where ultimate surf clubs of all different ages get together to tackle the Atlantic Ocean's waves. The beach spans about 3 kilometers with 4 different surf spots. Summers are an extremely popular time for tourists to head to Hossegor, not only for the swells, but also for other water sports like windsurfing and jet skiing. Every October, the Quik Pro surfing competition takes place in Hossegor, which is a great sporting event for visitors to awe at.
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Being the second largest of Spain's Canary Islands, Fuerteventura, which translates to “Strong Winds,” is a popular, year round vacation spot. Not only does it have beautiful beaches, but also because of its island formation, there are so many surf spots around the land for surfers of all different levels of experience. El Hierro is the most famous surfing spot on the island, although it specifically caters to advanced surfers. There are many locations for beginners to surf on Fuerteventura, and they are usually best to access during the summer when the weather is warm and sunny. As for advanced surfers, in order to get the biggest waves, they should typically travel there in the wintertime.
Porta da Cruz, Madeira
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Porta da Cruz is a great place for surfers of all levels to come paddle their boards. This area is famous for its perfect, tubular waves. Known as the “Pipeline” in Europe, Porta da Cruz has leftward flowing waves that weave with long crests, creating hollow tubes of water. Many surf schools and camps are available to help beginners get on their feet on the island of Madeira. The port city also attracts professional surfers from around the world all throughout the year, as it was the host of one of the stages of the World Cup of Surfing in 2010.
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Home to one of the longest left hand waves in the world, and possibly one of the best river mouth waves as well, Mundaka is a northern Spanish town in Basque Country. AS a picturesque fishing village, Mundaka is also home to the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. The most popular time for surfers to travel to Mundaka is in the autumn and winter, as it is then that they can ride waves for as long as 400 meters and that can reach 5 meters high. From 1998 to 2009, Mundaka hosted the Billabong Pro Mundaca celebration, and continues to participate as a location for various surfing competitions.
Aileen’s’ Wave, Ireland
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Aileen's Wave can be experienced off of the Cliffs of Moher in the perfect setting of stormy and easterly wind conditions. It is known worldwide in the surfing community as a perfect 12-meter wave. The name for the wave originates from an Irish legend where Irish gods were mad at St. Patrick for bringing Christianity to the country, so they transformed themselves into foals and jumped off of the Cliffs of Moher. Surfing at County Clare is a spectacular experience because not only do surfers hit perfect waves, but they also get to wonder at the 120-meter high cliffs.
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In between Portugal’s two major cities of Porto and Lisbon is where you’ll find Peniche, a port city that features great surfing conditions as well as a jumping off point for adventurous travelers. At Peniche, you can access Consolação and Baleal bays to spend some quality time at the beach, however if you are looking to catch some waves, go to the Medão Grande Beach. There, you can experience “Supertubos” or tubular Supertube waves that are sought after by worldwide surfers and body boarders. Both Medão Grande and Lagido Beach were the spots for the Rip Curl Pro Portugal major world surf championship that is a part of the World Surf League Tour.