Ericeira is one of the most famous surf destinations not just in Portugal, but in all of Europe! It’s even one of just ten world surfing reserves in the entire world.
And with several world-class waves, it’s not hard to see why Ericeira is so famous.
I recently took a surf trip to Ericeira, as part of a larger Portugal surf trip.
I explored several of the surrounding surf breaks, and was even fortunate enough to watch the WSL Vissla Pro Competition!
If you’re planning a surf trip to Ericeira, get ready for reef breaks, heavy waves, consistent surf, and a bustling, surf town that’s reminiscent of many Southern California surf cities- but with a European flare.
** This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission anytime you purchase any of the linked products. Thanks for your support of Gathering Waves!
An overview of the waves in Ericeira
The surf breaks in Ericeira stretch about 10 miles starting at Sao Juliao in the south, all the way up to Sao Lourenco.
There’s a pretty big variety of surf breaks, from heavy, barreling waves like Coxos and The Cave, to softer beach breaks like Foz do Lizandro.
The water is a little cold, ranging from 56-66 degrees year-round- you’ll want a wetsuit.
How to get to Ericeira
The easiest way to get to Ericeira is to fly into Lisbon and drive! It’s only about a 45 minute drive. If you’re traveling to Ericeira on a surf trip, I recommend renting a car so you have plenty of freedom to check out all the different surf spots at your leisure.
Ericeira surf seasons
Ericeira has great surf all year long. However, the surf in Ericeira varies quite a bit depending on the season, and if you can, you’ll want to plan your visit around the type of surf you’re looking for.
Ericeira surf in the summer
Summer is when the surf in Ericeira is at its smallest. This is a great time for beginner surfers, and especially a good time for beginner surfers to work on transitioning from white water waves to catching green waves.
Ericeira surf in the fall
During the fall, bigger swells start to hit the coast of Portugal and the surf breaks in Ericeira will get some size, and bring some variety to the surf days in Ericeira. There will still be small fun days for beginners, and excellent days for intermediate surfers, but there are also going to be some big heavy days.
Ericeira surf in the winter
The surf in Ericeira gets big in the winter. Powerful north and northwest swells bring lots of overhead surf. Winter in Ericeira is a great time for advanced surfers to spend some time in the green room at breaks like Coxos and the Cave!
Ericeira surf in the spring
In the spring, the surf mellows out a bit but there is still a lot of size in Ericeira.
Different Ericeira surf breaks
One of the main reasons Ericeira is so popular is the sheer quantity of surf breaks. Within just a few miles, you’ve got tons of world-famous surf breaks. There aren’t many places like that in the world.
All the breaks are pretty different, but there are a lot of reef breaks. If you’re comfortable surfing reef breaks, you’re going to be absolutely stoked surfing in Ericeira. The overall skill level of surfers in Ericeira is very high.
Here are some of the most popular surf breaks in Ericeira:
1. Praia de São Julião
Praia de São Julião is a large, sandy beach break located about a 15 minute drive south of Ericeira. It’s very exposed, and a good place to surf when other breaks are too small in the summer months.
2. Foz do Lizandro
Foz do Lizandro is the most popular beginner surf beach in Ericeira. The south end of the beach has a sandy bottom, and you can catch some nice lefts there. The rivermouth empties out at the northern end of the beach, and there you’ll find a couple hollow reef breaks when the swell is right. Foz do Lizandro is one of the best surf spots in Portugal for beginners.
3. Praia do Sul
Praia do Sul is a sheltered, rocky beach break located right in the heart of Ericeira. It’s usually flat, but if the surf is too big everywhere else it’s worth checking out!
4. Praia dos Pescadores
If even Praia do Sul is too big, you can look to Praia dos Pescadores for some surfable waves.
5. Praia do Matadouro
Portuguese for “the slaughterhouse”, Praia do Matadouro is a rocky reef break right outside of Quiksilver Boardriders. To get to the beach, you park in the Boardriders parking lot and cross the beach to go surf.
This beach is pretty popular with surf schools- honestly, from what I saw I wouldn’t recommend taking a surf lesson here as an absolute beginner. If you’re catching white water waves, you’re going to be surfing right on the shallow reef break, and when you inevitably slip and fall it’s going to be on rock.
For more intermediate-advanced level surfers, there’s a pretty nice A-frame that produces decent lefts and rights.
6. Praia de Ribeira d’ilhas
Ribeira d’ilhas is the nicest surf break in Ericeira.It’s a reef break, and there is plenty of room to surf and it can handle a decent crowd. If you surf all the way on the northern part of the beach, you’ll typically find slightly softer and smaller waves- perfect for logging. This is generally where the surf schools head out to.
Right in the middle of the beach, there’s another right hand reef break that breaks a little steeper, and offers excellent rides. It’s still a fairly soft wave though. Since this surf beach has so much variety, it’s a popular beach for all levels, and it’s usually very crowded.
You also can’t miss the statue of “The Guardian”, watching over the surf break.
The Cave is a super shallow, super heavy right hand barreling reef break. It’s one of the most difficult waves to surf in the world, and it’s part of the world surfing reserve.
8. Crazy Left
Also part of the world surfing reserve, Crazy Left is a very powerful, hollow left. It’s pretty aptly named.
Coxos is part of the world surfing reserve, and it’s one of the gnarliest waves in Ericeira! This right hand wave barrels right over a razor sharp reef. It’s definitely experts only, and we were fortunate enough to watch some pros surfing here in their down time during the WSL Vissla Pro.
Ericeira World Surfing Reserve surf spots include: The Cave, Pedra Branca, Reef, Crazy Left, Ribeira D’Ilhas, Coxos, and São Lourenço.
Hazards of surfing in Ericeira
Rocks and reefs galore
Pretty much all of the surf breaks in Ericeira have rocks and reefs galore. Even the sandy beach breaks have rocks and reefs in some areas. I’ve surfed for a long time, but don’t have a ton of experience surfing reef breaks, so Ericeira wasn’t quite my cup of tea, especially because I was there during a huge swell!
Ericeira is very crowded. And the overall skill level is pretty high. A lot of pros surf in Ericeira, and if you’re a beginner, or even an intermediate, you might feel a little out of place here and have a tough time getting waves.
Where to stay on an Ericeira surf trip
There are a ton of accommodation options in Ericeira- but they’re all pretty expensive! Especially compared to the south of Portugal.
If you’re planning an Ericeira surf trip and you’re on a budget, here is my biggest tip:
Rent a campervan and stay at Ericeira Camping. You’ll save money by combining your transportation and accommodations, and the campsite is actually really nice. Ericeira is also pretty easy to drive around in, it’s essentially one beachfront straightaway with a few roundabouts to get everywhere.
I wouldn’t recommend driving a big campervan down some of the older, cobblestone streets towards the city center, but hey, I saw some people doin’ it so if you’re a confident driver, why not.
If you’re not keen on staying in a campervan, take a look at Booking.com or Hostelworld to snag a place to stay. We also have a guide on the best surf hostels in Ericeira, which I highly consider looking at if you’re interested in a hostel stay.
If you’re on a budget, or even if you’re not, you should check out the best surf camps in Ericeira. There are some real gems out here.
Where to eat after surfing in Ericeira
Ericeira has some of the best options for restaurants in any surf town we visited in Portugal. As a California local, I was pretty stoked on all the delicious brunch options. Here were my favorite restaurants in Ericeira:
This place is awesome. They have so many delicious brunch dishes, great coffee, and a large variety of fresh juices. They don’t open until 10, but I suggest getting there right at 10 as they fill up right away.
I really can’t emphasize enough how good their brunch was. I LOVED their poached eggs on rye avocado. toast.
Ayy Mamita is a little hole in the wall authentic Argentine empanada place, and they have delicious appetizers, empanadas, and cocktails. They also have some really good prices.
2023 update: I just found out these guys are now permanently closed, which is super sad. I’ll work on getting some more great restaurant recommendations on my next trip to Ericeira, but in the meantime, here’s somebody else’s great guide to the best restaurants in Ericeira.
Ericeira surf guide- final thoughts
That’s a wrap on my Ericeira surf guide! Ericeira has some undeniably amazing surf, and even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll love the beauty and charm of this seaside Portuguese town.
If you’re an advanced surfer, I highly recommend visiting Ericeira. If you’re a beginner or intermediate surfer, I recommend heading down to the Aljezur area.