If you find yourself in the middle of downtown Lisbon, with traffic, subways, people and noise, it’s hard to imagine you are 20 minutes away from a peaceful beach town with enough stretch of beach to be all by yourself. However this is in fact the case. In this surf guide we’ll present to you Costa da Caparica- aka the Lisbon local’s favorite surf getaway.
How to get to Costa da Caparica
The easiest way to get to Costa da Caparica is to fly into Lisbon and take an Uber. We only visited Costa da Caparica as a day trip and for me to buy a surfboard, but it was super easy to call an Uber from downtown Lisbon. I believe it cost about $17 each way to Uber to/from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica. If you’re staying at a surf camp in Lisbon, or a surf hotel, you can also reach out to your camp organizers and have them arrange transport to Costa da Caparica from the Lisbon airport.
You can also rent a car and drive to Costa da Caparica from Lisbon, but the traffic was really horrible on the bridge to get there from Lisbon and I honestly wouldn’t recommend this option for most people unless you’re a fairly experienced city driver.
The cheapest option is to take the bus! Taking the bus is super easy in Lisbon, you just need to buy your bus card and load some money onto it. Rome to Rio is a great resource for the bus routes from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica.
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Costa da Caparica surf overview
There is tons of great surf in Lisbon, and Costa da Caparica is some of the best. Costa da Caparica has almost 26 kilometers of sandy coastline, complete with endless sandbanks and clean surf breaks. The northerly parts of Costa da Caparica have perfect jettys, trapping the sand and making the waves clean and consistent. This coast offers some of Portugal’s best surf breaks, only a short drive from the capital.
The different Costa da Caparica surf breaks
Some refer to Costa da Caparica as one big surf spot. Others like to split it into several parts. The coastline is 26 kilometers long, and has a different surf break about every 50 meters, meaning no matter where you go, you will find some great sandbanks. However, there are a few parts of the long beach that are more famous and popular than others.
Cova do Vapor
One cannot talk about Costa de Caparica surf without mentioning Cova do Vapor. Cova Do Vapor lies tucked in between two jettys, creating an almost wedgy type of wave. This is popular amongst bodyboarders, and surfers who like a heavy slab. Heavy, overhead and shallow are the keywords here. Cova do Vapor also provides one fast heavy right, on the northern side of the cove, while a similar but less consistent left lies on the south side. For advanced surfers this can be one of Portugal’s best beach breaks on the right days, but it does get crowded. Being on the north and most populated side of Costa de Caparica, and so close to Lisbon, you cannot expect to get this one to yourself.
This cove is not for the faint of heart, and surfers should be aware of strong currents, and fishermen on the groyns. The Lisbon city river also runs out here, so pollution can be a bit of an issue here. With northernly swells and some size Cova do Vapor can give you some really nice and intense rides, but make sure you know what you are doing before you jump in.
Praia da Rainha
Sick of crowds? Do you want to have a few of the Portuguese waves to yourself? Or just experience a more natural part of the beach? Praia da Rainha is the place to go. Praia da Rainha isn’t really a surfbreak, but more a stretch of beach with plenty of different breaks. It is located further south than downtown Caparica, and offers more remote breaks along the natural forest areas along the coast. This is a place you can explore for yourself! New breaks, and shifting banks every 50 meters, makes the quality quite diverse, but it can get really good. Both low and high tide works, and most swell directions will provide some surf. You can expect to find a combination of both steep waves in some spots, and in others more mellow longboard friendly waves perfect for beginners. However, there aren’t any jetties along the coast this far south, so the sideways current can get quite strong, and the wind can affect the waves a lot.
To many, this area provides the best of Costa de Caparica surf. You won’t get world class waves everyday, but you are sure to get something, and you can always avoid the bigger crowds. Taking a nap on the more remote parts of the beach doesn’t hurt either.
Best swells for Costa da Caparica surf
The swells for the area are mostly from the west, with the great Atlantic is usually quite generous with the swell frequency. Some sandbanks work with swells from the north and south as well, just pay attention to what this does to the currents, before you jump in. The prime wind direction is offshore, coming from the east. The northern parts of the area is a bit protected from northern winds, which is quite common.
Costa da Caparica surf seasons
As well as the rest of Portugal, the preferable season depends on what you are looking for. Summer tends to deliver smaller waves, and weaker but more consistent wind. Fall and winter is storm season, and can deliver some serious swells. Spring is usually something in between. The water is never really warm, but in the summer you can have some nice beach days when the air is hot. Generally, you’ll want to bring a 3/2mm in summer, 4/3mm in fall and spring, and a 5/4 mm in the winter. If you’re cold, you might need your boots and gloves as well in the winter.
Where to stay for the Costa da Caparica surf
For a surf trip to Costa da Caparica, I don’t recommend staying in Lisbon, but rather right in Costa da Caparica itself, so you can walk out to the surf.
Lisbon Surf Villa All Levels Surf Camp
This all-levels surf camp includes accommodations just a 6 minute walk from the surf, along with lessons, surfboards and wetsuits, and a massive private pool. They also have a few different options for room choice, including dorms and private rooms to accommodate all budgets!
How to pack for a surf trip to Costa da Caparica
For an in-depth guide on how to pack for a surf trip to Portugal, check out my Portugal surf trip packing list. Rowan and I surfed through the end of summer into fall, and packing for two different seasons was honestly really difficult! But we did it, and I shared everything in my packing list guide so other surfers know what to bring. Here are a few essentials though:
You’ll definitely want a wetsuit for surfing in Costa da Caparica. In the summer, you’ll be fine with a 3/2 but during the rest of the year you’ll probably be most comfortable in a 4/3.
If you’re booking a surf camp that includes all surf equipment, are a beginner, or don’t have a surfboard, you can probably ignore this one. But if you have your own board at home you’re comfortable with, it’s worth it to bring a surfboard. I didn’t bring a surfboard because I wanted to buy one in Portugal, and I ended up buying it from Underground Surf Spot right in Costa da Caparica, which was one of the best surf shops in Portugal.
- Ding repair kit
Dings are pretty inevitable, and Rowan’s board got dinged on the airplane so we were really glad we had a mini Solarez ding repair kit with us.
- Portable shower
This isn’t exactly an essential, and there are surf showers in Costa da Caparica. However we bought a little Sea to Summit pocket shower and used it EVERYWHERE in Portugal. It was probably one of my favorite things we brought on that trip.
- Beach towel
I take my Sandcloud towel literally everywhere I go, it’s PERFECT for surf trips and the beach. I also recently was gifted a packable microfiber towel, and that’s also perfect for the beach, in the hotel, and everywhere else. When I’m backpacking, I usually only bring the Sandcloud but if you have the space, it’s nice to have both.
- Reef safe sunscreen
A good reef safe sunscreen is absolutely essential for any surf trip! If you don’t already have a go-to, I wrote a post on the best reef safe sunscreens for surfers that rounds up all the best options.
Costa da Caparica surfing FAQ’s
Is Costa da Caparica safe?
Costa da Caparica is considered very safe. As everywhere with tourists you might expect pickpockets and thieves, but this area is known to be quite safe, as it’s a small commute from the city, and few people leave valuables and such lying around. Some of the biggest dangers you might encounter in Costa da Caparica include rogue surfboards in the lineup, so be sure to follow important surf safety tips!
Is Costa da Caparica a good surf town for beginners?
Yes! Costa de Caparica has plenty of surf schools and a variety of waves more suitable for beginners. In the summer the current is less intense, and you can get a great start of your surfing career here. But make sure you know what areas are suitable for beginners. There are hazards and heavy waves here as well. Make sure to ask in a surf shop, surf school or with surfing locals. For more great beginner surf beaches in Portugal, check out my guide to the best beginner surf spots in Portugal.
Other tips for Costa da Caparica surf
Costa da Caparica offers more than just surf. On the northern side of the Coast lies the town of Caparica, with some nice Portuguese restaurants and bars. Further down the coast, the beach gets more remote. The natural forest area here has plenty of hiking trails to check out the beautiful Portuguese nature.
Costa da Caparica surf guide- final thoughts
With the right swell, Costa da Caparica can truly be the perfect Portuguese surf town. If you like quality consistent waves, some close by infrastructure, opportunity to ditch the crowds, and easy access to beautiful nature, this is the place for you. And being less than half an hour away from Lisbon also doesn’t hurt. Whether or not you plan to stay here for your full vacation, or only as a few days getaway from the city, its location is just perfect. Now get ready to enjoy the awesome surf in Costa da Caparica!