About Carcavelos

Portugal's first-surfed and often best beachbreak, 15 minutes outside Lisbon, features heavy, sand-bottom barrels, especially in wintertime when it's really cranking. And though the waves may look unmakeable when you take off, if you hold a high line and hang tight, you're looking at an 85 percent success rate. The beach is about a half-mile long, flanked on the western end by flat rock reef and on the east by Forte São Julião da Barra. The area just next to the fort is called The Zone and has always been ground zero for Portugal's urban surf culture -- the peaks at this end of the beach are more localized and contested than the ones farther west. But the waves themselves are highly dependent on shifting sandbanks, which need at least one solid swell to break up the flat bottom that accumulates over the summertime flatness.

The waves in July and August are fairly inconsistent, as it's tucked pretty far in to get the short-period windswell that lights up the beachbreaks around Ericeira and Peniche. But come fall, and straight through into spring, the waves march in around the corner, peaking up and down the hard-packed sandbars.

Source: Carcavelos Surf Guide

Ability Level

All Abilities

Beg Int Adv

Beginner to advanced, depending on how big it is.

Local Vibe

Doable

Welcoming Intimidating

Slightly chaotic, but there is a hierarchy.

Crowd Factor

Moderate

Mellow Heavy

Due to its proximity to the city, there's almost always a crowd, regardless of how good it is.

Spot Rating

Perfect

Poor Perfect

With the right swell/wind/sand combo it can get really good.

Shoulder Burn

Medium

Light Exhausting

Can be some work on the bigger days.

Water Quality

Dirty

Clean Dirty

Close to Lisbon so it can get very nasty.

Additional Information

Hazards

Crowds and hitting bottom on bigger days.

Access

Parking low right there.

Bring Your

Shortboard

Seabed

Sand.

Best Season

Autumn is best but there are days in the Winter and Spring. Much slower in the Summer.

Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos