Ericeira is the #1 surf spot in Portugal, but...
Let's face it: as a world surf reserve, Ericeira is one of the top destinations for surfers all over the world, but that is also the biggest problem it has. In all fairness, it's not bad during the week, but when Saturday and Sunday come, legions of surfers from Lisbon roam north and literally fill up every possible spot available for surfing.
Yes, it gets crowded, and it won't improve as summer draws near.
On a really busy day, you may spend more time looking for a place to actually set your stuff down and fighting for a wave than actually surfing. And mind you: not everyone there will be as patient as yourself in waiting for their turn to tackle a wave, so you must be prepared to make a stand for that wave you really want. It doesn't sound exactly relaxing and sometimes it´s not.
What Ericeira can give you is world class waves, that's for sure, but because everybody knows that, at the peak of demand, the location is as over saturated as it can get. Under these terms, going there at all during the weekend may be nothing more than a stressing wast of time and swell.
Enjoy a quiet respite at a north of Ericeira surf camp location
So you may notice a trend in that those wanting so spend some time at a surf hostel migrate to a north of Ericeira surf camp, where it can be quieter and where they may have a lot more options to seek out the kind of breaks they want.
What does "north of Ericeira surf camp" mean? It means a surf camp in Lourinhã, which can be less than hour's drive away which is also pretty close to Peniche, if you feel like tackling the larger swells that are around the northern sectors of the peninsula. Praia da Areia Branca is an unknown treasure in Portuguese surf, because it's not really demanding and probably won't always give you world class waves, and that´s exactly why you may find less crowded surf conditions.
The location is superbly ideal for beginners and students, and because crowds are rarely ever an issue, it's a great refuge for when you don't want too much to bother about and surf in relative peace.
The great thing, though, is that unlike with Ericeira where Ericeira surf spots are basically it, or then Lisbon to the South, surf camps north of Ericeira have a lot more alternatives in terms of surf spots, all very close by: Peniche, Baleal Ericeira, Supertubos, Santa Cruz and farther away Nazaré, are just some of the offers you get. All around, in places like Mafra and Sintra, you also get to visit some of the most beautiful places in the European continent.
Last but not least, what's so marvellous about Lourinhã and particularly Areia Branca is that the local conditions make for great surf learning, and this is where you should bring your offspring for a good first step into the world of surf. Because the whole town is very welcoming and safe it's also a perfect option for families, both of surfers and of those wanting to learn. If you enjoy sports, the tennis court or the futsal field will be your top picks, but the wealth of restaurants and bars will keep you relaxed and occupied.
All of this comes together to create something very close to a paradise for those who want to spend their time "far from the madding crowd", where it's more peaceful, quiet and even intimate, away from the stress of overcrowded sands and legions of beach dwellers. If you are one of those who really want to spend their vacation in a less crowded area than where you usually spent the rest of the year, this sort of option may be the best for you, ensuring both quality surf and plenty of rest to be had.
So why not take a break from the masses and head up for a north of Ericeira surf camp in Areia Branca, for a much more exclusive, intimate and relaxing surf retreat that will really fill your batteries? You can always go to Ericeira whenever you want!