Sagres is one of the most consistent spots for windsurfing in Portugal. The summer ‘Nortada’ north wind blows strongest and most reliably in this part of the Algarve and it’s only a short drive to the south or west coasts. That means with the summer ‘Nortada winds’ you can choose to go for a flat water session on the south coast or a wave session on the west coast. In Sagres you can surf almost any swell and go windsurfing – or windSUP’ing – on almost any given day. If there’s a small swell from the north or west, you can venture to the west coast for some windSUPing in small waves and when big swells come from those same directions, you can find more sheltered spots on the south coast.
Sagres gets especially good for windsurfing during the summer because the ‘Nortada’ winds hit Portugal on a regular basis and the thermic effect created by the nearby headland of Cabo de São Vicente adds quite a few knots to the Sagres area. So you can expect to sail almost every day in summer. And if you’re up for some surfing, you will definitely have plenty of time in the water.
There are many spots to choose from in Sagres, from ones right in town to lots more just 10 to 30 minutes away by car and covering freeride to beginner spots, right up to classic wave sailing spots. The varied coastline means you’re always able to find a spot that suits your windsurfing skills. The standard of rider required will be in general higher on the west facing spots (with the north winds of summer), while the south facing spots are in the main more suitable for beginners, intermediates or flat water lovers, the only hazard being the strong offshore winds here – so keep this in mind before you find yourself struggling to get back to shore.
Praia do Martinhal - This spot, with its hyper-flat waters and strong offshore winds can be really perfect for freeride and slalom blasting, as much as for taking some lessons at the local windsurf school. This long sandy beach is truly a speed sailing and freestyle nirvana. The ‘Nortada’ is bolt offshore here, flattening every ripple. The wind is a little gusty inshore, but can get a little rough just a few hundred metres outside. The beach is very flat and you can stand up quite a way out on lower tides, making it great for learning and for picture perfect jibes in shallow turquoise water. This place can get busy on the beach in high season – although when it’s windy the swimmers and sunbathers will run away! During winter, with prevailing south winds, Martinhal transforms into a chaotic beach break with strong currents. With southeasterly Levante winds, it stays sailable for a couple of days before the seas get too rough.
Praia do Tonel - Tonel is a very good wave sailing spot, one of the best in Portugal and has a reputation for radical action. The spot is set against rugged cliffs and can have some impressive waves with clean sets rolling in – perfect for jumping and frontside riding. It offers really consistent conditions in the summer, and it’s also highly accessible from Sagres, being just a few hundred metres from the town centre. The cross-shore ‘Nortada’ is often strong enough for small sails, yet it can be pretty gusty. Surrounded by cliffs, medium to strong currents also affect this small beach. The biggest problem though is the rocks as they’re easily missed! Ask a local to point them out before launching. The best conditions are mid to low tide when you can ride a bit further away from the rocks!
It can get very good with strong north winds and a good summer swell. But even in light winds it can be a lot of fun (especially on a windSUP board!). In light wind conditions however, watch out for the good number of surfers that you will probably find around you!