Sagres is a perpetually sunny, whitewashed fishing village located on the southwestern tip of Portugal. In Sagres, you’ll find two distinct coastlines with a variety of breaks- including barrels and heavy slabs, along with beginner-friendly waves.
The Sagres surf has something for surfers of every level, from absolute beginners to expert riders.
Sagres surf overview
Located at the end of the world (or so the Ancient Romans thought), Sagres has a lot to offer in the way of surf. A combination of both western and southern-facing beaches give you options, and you can take your pick of the heavy tubes at Tonel, beginner waves at Praia Mareta (in the winter) or the fast yet fickle waves at Praia do Zavial.
Whether you’re an experienced surfer looking for a challenge, or a beginner stoked to learn in a beautiful environment, the southern tip of the Algarve coast has got you covered! Dramatic cliff-side beaches, sunny weather and a variety of waves await you in Sagres.
The different Sagres surf breaks
Sagres is a small surf town on the very tip of southwest portugal. With remote and beautiful beaches facing the great atlantic, it delivers consistent surf year-round, for surfers ranging from first-day beginners, to barrel-riding thrill-seekers.
Praia do Tonel is what many would consider the main spot of the Sagres surf. The close proximity to downtown-Sagres and its almost direct exposure to western swells makes Tonel a reliable and popular beach for surfing all year round.
In the summer you can expect long and mellow waves, perfect for beginners and longboarders. Several surf schools do have classes here in this part of the season. It gets very crowded here in the summer. Even in late September Rowan and I had quite a time trying to find parking… good luck! I recommend parking up top by the fort and walking.
In the winter however, things can change quite a lot. On bigger swells Tonel barrels, with powerful and critical waves. Make sure to know what you are doing before jumping in on days like these. Tonel has a mainly sandy ocean floor, but a few rocks are hiding here and there, so be sure to pay attention and gather some local info before you jump in.
Only a few minutes up the road from Praia Tonel (by car), lies the beautiful beach of Beliche, a well-known spot in the Sagres surf scene. Beliche is a south-west facing beach, surrounded by spectacular cliffs.
Beliche does not catch the swells as often as Tonel, but when it does, it can get quite hectic. The “Bowl” formation and sand-covered rocks create the perfect recipe for a barreling beach break. The waves break on shallow water, and with the right tide, a proper wedge forms.
The wave doubles in size when the backwash hits the incoming wave, drawing in brazened bodyboarders and expert surfers. Beliche is usually not a beginner friendly spot, but makes a great show to watch from the beach when it’s on.
Praia Mareta, is the second “downtown” beach in Sagres. The prime location makes this beach a popular place for both locals and tourists in Sagres.
From the beach you can see the famous Sagres fortress, sitting on the edge of the cliffs. Praia Mareta is definitely more known for sunbathing than surfing, but it does get beginner-friendly surf with the right conditions.
The south facing beach is well protected from the western swells, but can really go off with southern swells in the winter. I wouldn’t recommend Praia Mareta for surfing in the summer, for surfers of most levels. However, in the winter when the west-facing beaches are way too big, Praia Mareta can offer some much desired smaller waves suitable for beginners.
In the eastern part of Sagres, lies the relatively new area of Martinhal. A newly developed resort and apartment area designed for visiting tourists, families and vacation-home owners. The area has a beautiful beach, tucked away, facing south east. Martinhal almost never produces surfable waves, but can be worth a visit anyway. With smaller waves, it’s more suitable for swimming, or surfing with small children. However, when the wind picks up, Martinhal is a good spot for windsurfing!
Praia do Zavial
A good 15-minutes drive up the south-coast, you’ll get to Praia Do Zavial, the home of one of the few point breaks in the Sagres surf area. Though, most famous for the right breaking point, the sandbanks along the beach can create a variety of waves. As the beach is along the south coast, it needs a bit more swell, preferably from the south west, to hit the beach properly. On smaller days, it can also work for beginners with a south east swell.
When Zavial breaks properly, it’s a wave reserved for advanced surfers. Short take-offs, rocks and steep waves are keywords here.
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Gear for a Sagres surf trip
- Wetsuit or springsuit
I found Sagres to be considerably warmer than other surf spots in Portugal. In the summer, you can definitely trunk it on hotter days or wear a shorty. Personally, I don’t think you need anything thicker than a 3/2 for surfing Sagres any time of year. However, if you get cold easily, you might want a 4/3 for the winter months.
The surf in Sagres is great for shortboarders and longboarders alike, so bring what you normally ride.
If you don’t typically travel with a surfboard, don’t worry about this one- Sagres has lots of great surf shops where you can rent one!
While these are just some of the essentials you should bring on a surf trip to Sagres, you can take a look at my Portugal surf trip packing list for everything you need for a surf trip to Portugal.
Best swell for Sagres surf
The beauty of surfing in Sagres as opposed to other surf towns in Portugal is that you have beaches on both the south and west coasts. Since the beaches face different directions, Sagres is able to pick up surfable swells from northwest, west, south and southeast.
With that said, swells from west and southwest are ideal for most spots.
Keep in mind, the west-facing spots (west coast) are the most exposed, so if the surf is too big for your level at beaches like Tonel and Beliche, you might have better luck on the south coast.
If you’re really not sure when or where to surf in Sagres, I recommend booking a surf camp!
Sagres surf seasons
In Sagres, typically you will see smaller waves in summer, and the bigger swells hit during the winter season. Fall and spring are the shoulder seasons, and a good time for intermediate surfers. The waves in Sagres in early fall are still very small- I recommend coming late fall (November onwards) if you’re looking to surf anything over 2 feet.
Summer and early fall are perfect for beginners seeking small waves and surf lessons.
With that said, Sagres is within easy driving distance of SEVERAL other surf towns. If you’re staying in Sagres and it’s not working, you can always head up to Bordeira, Arrifana, or Milfontes to try your luck.
Sagres Surf FAQ’s
Is Sagres safe?
Sagres is a very famous beach destination for both surfers and non-surfers alike. Like almost all touristy areas, you might find pickpockets or suffer from the occasional car break-in. However, Portugal is very safe, and Sagres is no exception. I felt very safe the whole time we were there (although I wouldn’t recommend leaving any valuables unattended on the beach or in your car!)
Is Sagres a good surf town for beginners?
Sagres is a great surf town for beginners! During spring, summer and fall, you’ll find some great beginner waves at a variety of spots. Thanks to its south-facing beaches, beginners can even find small wave sanctuaries in Sagres while the rest of Portugal is way too big.
Is Sagres expensive for a surf trip?
I found Sagres to be fairly expensive compared to other surf spots in Portugal. It’s more expensive than Aljezur, although less expensive than Ericeira. However, if you book your surf hotel in advance you can find the best deals.
Sagres surf guide- final thoughts
That’s a wrap on this Sagres surf guide! The town at the end of the world is a wonderful place for surfing. With a variety of waves and beaches, you’re almost guaranteed to find surf. The beautiful location, chill vibes and friendly locals don’t hurt either.