Tucked away in the Algarve lies one of the most beautiful surf beaches in Portugal- Praia Arrifana. The sheltered bay of Arrifana boasts sparkling blue waters, a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere, as well as fun and consistent surf.
This surfing paradise is excellent for beginners, and the Arrifana surf can also deliver something special for intermediates and advanced surfers alike.
An overview of Arrifana surf
Arrifana Beach or Praia Arrifana, is a picturesque beach located in southern Portugal, in the Aljezur surf region. It’s easy to get to, sheltered, and hailed as the best beginner surf beach in the region. It’s very crowded and a popular place for large groups of beginners and surf schools, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun beach to surf at for more intermediate and advanced level surfers.
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How to get to Arrifana
Praia Arrifana is fairly easy to get to by car. If you fly into Lisbon, you can easily rent a car and make the 3.5 hour drive along the coast road and you’re there! I highly recommend taking the coast road from Lisbon because you’ll avoid tolls, and it’s much more scenic.
If you fly into Faro, it’s only about a 1.5 hour drive to Arrifana but you will pay some tolls. If you rent a car, I recommend accepting your rental car company’s toll aid. It’s a small fee, but you won’t need to worry about extra fees for any missed tolls, as the system is known to be a little tricky.
Once you get to Arrifana, you can park at the top of the cliffs and then walk the steep, cobblestone path down to the beach. The parking at the bottom is reserved for residents only.
Arrifana surf spots
Praia Arrifana is located in a little bay, so it’s very sheltered from both winds and swells. This makes it an excellent spot for beginner surfers, or a great spot to go when other surf spots in the area are blown out.
Arrifana beach break
The majority of the time Arrifana is simply a big beach break, with the southern end of the beach being slightly bigger and better for more intermediate level surfers, and the northern end of the beach being more suitable for beginners.
A lot of the bigger sets tend to close out, but shifting sandbars can form some fun corners that deliver short, steep rides.
If you’re looking for a fun surf in a gorgeous setting, you can’t go wrong at the Arrifana beach break. While it’s crowded, it’s mostly beginners and the overall vibe is pretty pleasant. It’s an awesome place for a sunset surf with some friends.
Arrifana reef break
When some bigger swells come rolling in, the reef break of Arrifana starts to turn on. This powerful, right hander breaks all the way on the north end of the cove right over the rocks, and forms some incredible, long waves. Due to the power of the wave and the rocks, this should only be surfed by fairly advanced surfers.
Surf spots nearby Arrifana
Monte Clérigo is about a 15 minute drive from Arrifana. This beach is less crowded, less sheltered, and better for intermediate and advanced level surfers.
Amoreira is just around the corner from Monte Clérigo, and has a beach break next to the river mouth. It breaks a little softer than Monte Clérigo.
Hazards of Arrifana surf
While it’s hailed as a beginner beach and is very sheltered, some pretty heavy cleanup sets come through once and a while, and pretty much wash away all the beginners and their 10 foot boards. When this happens, you do not want to be in the way of a rogue, bailed board!
On the other end of this, if you’re a beginner at Arrifana, keep your surroundings in mind and try your best to not let go of your board.
The beach break itself isn’t too rocky, but the reef break is very rocky.
Best season to surf Arrifana
The best season to surf Arrifana depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a beginner, there is no better time to surf in Arrifana than the summer! You’ll be faced with smaller waves, warmer waters, and sunny skies.
For more intermediate- advanced level surfers, the fall and winter are going to produce the bigger swells.
Where to stay on your Arrifana surf trip
If you have a rental car, you can get away with staying a little bit further away from Arrrifana, and I recommend staying at Endless Summer Surf House. It’s only a 5 minute drive from Arrifana, has a lovely pool and common area, and friendly and gracious hosts.
If you’re on foot, you should stay at HI Destination Arrifana Hostel. It’s a 5 minute walk from the beach and has a beautiful rooftop terrace where you can watch the sunset from. It’s a very surf-friendly hostel as well, with plenty of space to hang your wetsuits to dry.
Where to eat after surfing at Arrifana
Sea You Surf Cafe has delicious food at a decent price. It’s located right next to the beach, and they have live music Sunday evenings!
Gear for Arrifana surf
In the summer you can get away with trunks or a spring suit. However, in fall you’ll want a 3/2 wetsuit, and in winter you’ll probably be most comfortable with a 4/3.
- Reef-safe sunscreen
My go-to is Kokua mineral sunscreen. Check out my list of the best sunscreens for surfers for more options, and to learn more about why we should only use reef-safe sunscreen, and what exactly it means for a sunscreen to be reef-safe.
Arrifana is a solid surf break for longboards and shortboards alike! Whether you bring your own surfboard, buy your own surfboard in Portugal, or rent one, you’ll have a good time and catch some fun waves.
Check out my ultimate Portugal surf trip packing list for more info on what you need for your Arrifana surf trip.
Arrifana surf guide: final thoughts
Overall, Arrifana is a sweet surf spot in Portugal. It’s beautiful, it’s consistent, the vibe of the lineup is friendly, and the waves are fun! If you’re a beginner surfer, this is an amazing spot for you and you’re sure to have a good time. If you’re an intermediate/advanced surfer, you might be a little bored here if the reef break isn’t working, and you might want to check out some spots nearby like Monte Clerigo and Amoreira.