The Algarve is one of the most fascinating regions of Portugal, with many different sides. In Sagres, and in Cabo de Sao Vincente, you can breathe the atmosphere of the places located "at the end of the world", but just move to Martinhal, or Lagos, to discover a more touristic side of this land. It is a popular destination for surfing, but it also offers the possibility of trekking, and, of course, windsurfing, in some very beautiful spots, among which Tonel and Praia do Martinhal stand out.
Windsurfing, spot reviews: Sagres (Tonel/Martinhal), and Algarve (Portugal)
Cabo de Sao Vincente, the South West tip of Europe, divides the Algarve into two areas with a different landscape. To the north, you have the coast that faces west over the Atlantic, towards the Alentejo region, characterized by the alternation of imposing rocky cliffs, and magnificent wild sandy beaches, scattered by some villages (Aljezur, Odeceixe, Vila do Bispo). It is a coast frequently whipped by the wind and the ocean waves, it is good for surfing, or for excursions on foot, or with MTB, along the Rota Vicentina (rotavicentina.com). The Cabo is dominated by the magnificent lighthouse, and from here you can admire memorable sunsets.
To the east of the Cabo, on the other hand, you have the whole south coast of the Algarve, at first still rocky and wild, and then gradually more and more populated and touristy, with rich and welcoming towns among which we point out Lagos, and Tavira. But even in this section there is no lack of natural beauties. Among these, we highlight the beaches and the famous cliffs of Lagos (Praia do Camilo is spectacular), and the Rio Formosa Natural Park.
The Algarve area around Cabo de Sao Vincente is frequently hit by the Nortada in summer; here it blows more intensely than in the Alentejo, further north. It is a wind coming from the North / North West, which is generated when the high pressure of the Azores is positioned off the coast of Portugal (rotation of the winds in a clockwise direction, around it), and the low pressure on the center of the Iberian Peninsula ( wind rotation counterclockwise). Therefore, between the two baric centers, a wind channel directed from North / North West towards South / South-East is created (see image below). In practice, this is the beginning of the trade winds, which then also invests the Canary Islands.
The Lagos and Faro area, on the other hand, remains more sheltered, sometimes benefiting from winds from the West, which can make some windsurfing and kitesurfing spots work.
Going into the details of this theme, and focusing on the Sagres spots, we point out that there are two sites where windsurfers can find bread for their teeth: Praia do Tonel and Praia do Martinhal. These are two very different spots: the first offers waveriding conditions, and is rather tricky (insidious); the second offers flat water conditions, suitable for freeride / slalom, and freestyle.
Let's examine them in detail, and then we will provide some hints also to some other spots in the Region (Ilha de Cabanas-Tavira, Praia da Bordeira).
Praia do Tonel
Praia do Tonel, even before being a famous spot for windsurfing and surfing, is a fantastic beach, characterized by an amazing natural scenery. It can be admired both from above, from the cliffs to the west and east. Or you can appreciate its majesty, placing yourself in the middle of the beach, preferably at low tide, and admiring the amphitheater of multicolored rock walls that surrounds it, which reflect on its deep shiny surface of sand, washed by the retreating tide. And as the soundtrack to this great film, there is the breath of the ocean, which never stops here. The waves of Tonel will win you over for their beauty and regularity, especially from above, when there is little wind. From the beach, they will seem less harmless (they tend to close out), and more frothy, but still beautiful.
Let's say right away that Tonel is not a spot to be underestimated, and that it can be insidious. Above all, the dangers and peculiarities must be well known to enjoy your session, and not get into trouble. It is definitely not an easy spot for everyone (to us, it seemed more insidious than Guincho ....). With this detailed and valuable review, we will try to help you make the most of the spot.
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Widely said about the two Sagres spots, we mention some other spots, which we haven't tried yet, but where it is possible to have a ride.
Praia da Bordeira (near Carrapateira), half an hour drive north of Sagres, on the west coast of the Algarve. The beach is beautiful and very deep. It is exposed to the NW swell, which determines a consistent beach break. La Nortada here enters weaker than in Sagres, and side on. The car park is a bit far from the beach, so you have to carry your equipment for a certain distance. We are told that it is a more suitable place for kiters, but it should be tried. From here, the Rota Vicentina hiking trail passes.
Further north, there is Sines, and the wave spot of Praia do Sao Torpes, exposed to the swell, where the Nortada is always weaker than in Sagres, but where the wind can enter side. Here, in reality, we are no longer in the Algarve, but in the Alentejo region.
Finally, we point out that if the wind is oriented from the West (or from the East) you can consider the spots located on the beaches of the islands in front of Faro. We have seen some kiters in the water at Praia de Cabanas, which can be reached by crossing the lagoon that separates it from the mainland in a minute, with a boat service, at a modest cost of about one euro. Beyond the lagoon, a long sandy beach awaits you, and easy conditions, suitable for a freeride / bump and jump session.
Finally, we point out that in Sagres there are many accommodation options, for all budgets, and several restaurants where you can eat excellent fish. We stayed in an apartment complex (identified through Airbnb) in front of Praia do Beliche; a pleasant staying, in a panoramic and quiet position.
Hang loose. Fabio Muriano
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Video of the session (Tonel)
Video of the session (Martinhal)