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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Ribeira d'Ilhas

Ribeira d'Ilhas

Ericeira - Central Portugal - Mafra, Portugal

Surf

Ribeira d’Ilhas is one of the longest right point breaks in the world. It’s in a small coastal city that faces the Atlantic Ocean called Ericeira. It’s like the European Margaret River because of its reefs and the power of its waves. The quality and tradition of its waves make it, along with Peniche and Hossegor, one of the three surf capitals on the old continent and it’s the place to be in Portugal when the east winds blow. For many years, doctors have recommended the water for its therapeutic qualities because of the high concentration of iodine. People still go there today for this reason but it’s also clear that another reason for its popularity is that it's home to the best reef breaks in Europe.

There are infinite options very near to Ribeira d’Ilhas, both for surfers and bodyboarders. The left in Praia da Empa, the quieter, hollow rights at Reef, the Pedra Branca slabs, and Backdoor. A little further north is where you’ll find the brutal right, The Cave, and the world class Coxos, the best right in Portugal, and on the left side of the same bay you’ll find the exquisite Crazy Left. Beach breaks are also represented with Foz de Lizandro and São Lourenço Ericeira. If Ericeira is the Margaret River of Europe, Ribeira d’Ilhas is a mix between Bells and Malibu. You can see its impressive reef from the viewpoint before you go down to the beach. It’s a considerable size and it offers many possibilities with the tides and various sections for any level and discipline. It’s the most consistent wave in Ericeira and if the conditions are good, the highlight isn’t its barrels, it’s the long and well-formed sections that are punchy enough for radical manoeuvres and push you to make lines.

ribeiradilhas-surf

It’s located 50 kilometres north of Lisbon International Airport and from there you need to head north on the A8 motorway and after a short while, take the A21 towards Mafra following the signs to Ericeira. Once you’re there, to get to Ribeira d’Ilhas and any of the Ericeira spots, take the N247 which borders the coast. There’s a parking area at Ribeira Beach but if you arrive late it is likely to be full. Near to the spot, you’ll find small hotels, apartments in the centre, houses with rooms to rent and even a large campsite with all the necessary facilities and different bungalows depending on your needs.
Due to its closeness to Lisbon and its consistency, Ribeira d’Ilhas was the first Portuguese Beach to host international surf competitions. It is the most popular wave in Ericeira, but is also able to cope with more people. Sometimes the atmosphere between the good locals is very competitive but with patience and vision you’ll find your waves. The Mica Lourenço boards or the popular Semente, are the best known local boards and as for the surfers, we can name legends like Jose Gregorio, Miguel Fortes, Tiago Carmona, Ze Menezes, Pyrrait, Paulo do Bairro together with the many promising youngsters like Tomás Fernandes and Keisha Eyre.

Conditions

Ribeira d’Ilhas is the most consistent of the Ericeira waves. The reef collects and organises any swell coming from the W and NW, being better with more N component. The best wind component is E, which is also accompanied by good weather, but it’s worth knowing that the good bottoms allows you to surf good waves with light N winds. There are many take off zones and the best option is always when the swell is small. Mid tide is best as if it’s too low, it doesn’t collect well and the sections are shorter. If it’s too high, it doesn’t push well and there is backwash. The best time is at the end of the summer or autumn when the first quality swells arrive and the E winds are more frequent. During this period, the water is also warmer than the rest of the year.

It has three main sections. The last section, which is next to the beach, is the busiest and most of the time it’s the one that works the most consistently and is better quality. It follows the gentle middle section, Pedra Preta, and the outside sections called Pontinha and Pontissima, which are very good quality and have verticals at mid tide. The best size is between 4 and 6 feet. With 6 feet the sections are incredible and very long, it could reach the beach from the middle section. In the summer you can often surf fun waves of around 3 feet, but you should know that the rest of the time, the typical N winds prevail from mid-morning. The biggest swells arrive in the winter and it‘s possible to get waves that are more than 6 feet. The weather alternates between chilly, sunny days with offshore winds and cloudy days.  Although days like these are common, they aren’t as cold as the hard winters in Northern Europe.

You should pay attention to the inside as the tide rises because the waves end very near to the rocks by the cliff, so it’s advisable to not end up by them with a series approaching as the paddle back could be very long due to the size of the reef, but nevertheless it’s easily reachable from the beach. The average water temperature is around 16 to 18 degrees in the summer and 10 to 12 degrees in the winter. A 4 mm is a safe bet. Be careful of the small sea urchins hidden in the gaps in the reef when you go in at low tide and also the strong currents with heavy seas.


 
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Right pointbreak
  • Wind
    E
  • Tide
    Medium
  • Swell
    NW - W
  • Bottom
    Reef
  • Size
    1 to 10 ft
  • Time of year
    All year round, best from September to November
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