Portugal, Sagres – Surfing 101

Last October during mid-term break, I decided to take the kids on a road trip to try surfing in Portugal. The Algarve is just a few hours away.

Hubby was scheduled to be away during the first half of the break. So, in all my infinite wisdom, I thought we should go surfing.

Our Island in the Bahamas is protected by a reef. Thus no surf.

Surfing has been on my bucket list, so why not? The boys were finally old enough and they are strong swimmers. So off to Sagres, Portugal we went.

Sagres is in the far western corner of the Algarve. It’s a sleepy little place known mostly for surfing and great praias (Prai means beach, in Portuguese).  It’s just a few miles from Cabo Sao Vicente, the most westerly point in Europe, which is rather stunning.

Surfing 101

Lesson 1:

This Shit is Hard.

Don’t ever kid yourself into thinking surfing is easy. It’s not! There is a steep learning curve and a reason why people spend a lifetime committed to the sport. You need the time. I’m a strong swimmer and practice yoga. Thus, I assumed surfing would be somewhat easy. Wrong. So wrong.

Lesson 2:

Don’t be a Cowboy/girl

The ocean is immense, unpredictable, and strong as hell. It deserves your respect. Riptides are real and waves are powerful. Don’t become a drowning statistic. Surf with a buddy, and take lessons until you know what you’re doing,

Lesson 3:

There is a Helluva Lot Going On.

It’s not as simple as standing up on the board. You have to paddle correctly,  read the waves, and then nail the “pop up”, which is like a well-choreographed burpee. See Lesson 1. Also, you are fighting for space with all the newbies. Be prepared for someone to crash into you.

Lesson 4:

Prepare to Get Your Ass Handed to You.

There’s a reason surfers have hard bodies. Just trekking your board down to the beach and trudging through the sand to your “spot” is work. Then the real work begins as you get barreled in the surf and eat shit more times than you can count. I seriously had sand in my molars for days. It’s a seriously physically demanding sport. On the upside, you earn that cold local beer at the end of the day. And it’s delicious!

Lesson 5:

No Wimps Allowed.

As previously mentioned there are no beach sherpas. You carry your own board and your own crap, not your Instructor. Be ready to get beat up a little by the surf and to challenge yourself.

Lesson 6:

That Bitch is Like an Octopus.

Your leash will trip you up and your board will likely whack you in the head.

Lesson 7:

It’s a Patience Game.

You spend a lot of time hanging out. – waiting for sets., and waiting for tides. Until you learn to read the waves, you’ll miss way more than you attempt to ride. But, hey! If you’re surfing, you likely have no pressing agenda.


Three days intro was enough. But, all and all, it was fun! Our Instructor, Ollie, was an awesome Welsh guy who took great care of the boys and tolerated me. He was safety-oriented and super fun.

Learning to surf at any age is hard. Learning in your 40s….is humbling. I felt like an overstuffed sausage in my wet suit, but I’m at least old enough not to care.

The boys loved it and did great. Mom needs some work!

Hope you enjoyed the read.


Kate. x

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