Why Extreme Surfers Choose Nazaré, Portugal As A Winter Hot Spot

Nazaré is a small town in Portugal that has made major waves in both the sports world and mainstream media. Located just 90 minutes or so north of Lisbon, Nazaré has become a landmark destination for professional big-wave surfers. Today, voyeurs come from all over the world to get a view of these enormous waves and hold their breath as they watch athletes partake in one of the world's most dangerous sports.

Topend Sports Website writes that big-wave surfing is when a surfer either paddles out or is towed by a jet ski or boat to catch waves that are at least 20 feet in height. In Nazaré, you're likely to see surfers bearing down on waves surpassing 70 feet in height. However, this little seaside town hasn't always been world-famous for its waves. Nazaré made its big splash into the surf scene in 2011 when a video of the American surfer, Garrett McNamara, went viral. He was seen riding a 78-foot wave, which, at that time, was a world record. Since then, big-wave surfers have flocked to Nazaré to test their surfing mettle. This has drawn tourists who want to see the gigantic waves and the adrenaline junkies who ride them. (Best Time 2 Travel points out how Nazaré's topography creates the perfect conditions for the world's biggest waves.)

Best spot to see the big waves at Nazaré

The Surf Atlas advises that for surfers who are not beginners and who want the opportunity to surf at Nazaré without risking a 10-story wipeout, the summertime offers smaller but equally perfect waves to try. For those looking to see the big kahunas, though, Nazare Portugal Tourism says that October to February is the best time to see the tallest waves.

If you're planning a trip to Nazaré, don't make the mistake of missing out on the best spots to see big waves and big-wave surfers. The beach where the colossal waves occur is called Praia do Norte, on the north side of Nazaré. You can watch the waves from the beach, but this can be dangerous depending on how big the waves are that day and the weather, so you should be extremely careful to not get near the water if you go.

To avoid any potential danger and to get the best views, Nazare Portugal Tourism recommends watching from São Miguel Arcanjo Fort. Besides getting incredible views of waves and surfers, you can also learn a bit about the history of surfing at Nazaré at the museum there. Nazare Portugal Tourism has a guide on how to get there by funicular but you can also get there by car. However, due to its popularity, parking may be limited. So if you want to get a good spot, either for parking or on the platform, head up to the fort early in the morning.