(Ericeira, Portugal) In 2011, Ericeira became the second place on the planet to be named a World Surfing Reserve. A confession – the only one in Europe – that has turned the fate of this sleepy fishing village upside down, making it a popular destination for those who travel the world in search of the most beautiful waves. Here they are served!
To get to Ericeira from Lisbon, you just need to take the bus at the station in the capital of Lisbon (or rent a car). After an hour and a half admiring the landscape of a mountain road criss-crossing the continent, we arrive at this village on the Atlantic coast that has seen incredible growth since joining the top of the surfing world: being nominated for this title of World Surfing Reserve by World Surfing Reserves (WSR). ).
Since 2009, this program created by the Save the Waves Coalition has given itself the mission of protecting the planet’s surfing ecosystems. To date, there are only 12 places that offer surfers “extraordinary waves” among them, including Bahia de Todos Santos (Mexico), Gold Coast (Australia), Huanchaco (Peru), Malibu (California) … and Ericeira, the only reserve on the continent european.
With its eight kilometers of coastline dotted with numerous surfing spots of all levels, Ericeira has been attracting longtime surfers. Since the 1970s, the small fishing village has become a destination for Portuguese surfers. But with this nomination, the peaceful place dominated by rocky cliffs that offer wonderful views of small coves fringed with secluded beaches has gained worldwide fame.
Discovering for the first time Praia da Playa, the beach closest to the village, my heart flutters: the view is breathtaking. And you don’t have to be a surfer to fall in love with Ericera. But I obviously wouldn’t have moved that far without getting a little wet…
In the water!
“Ericera was completely different 10 years ago. 20 years ago? You can’t even imagine! Joaquim Pepio knows what he’s talking about: he was born here. He founded in 2016 with his two friends Joao Pontina and Pedro Kikas, also from the region, 3 Surfers, which is one Of the many surf schools in Ericeira – there are currently over 40. Needless to say, the popularity of the place attracts in the wake of many companies that smell of good work.
“No doubt all this development has been very good for Ericeira, which was only a small fishing village. But when it is a lot, it is a lot! We must not lose our authenticity,” adds the person whom everyone calls Pipio.
“The town has really boomed since 2011. But before it was a popular place for tourists, there were locals who came here. The local legends are these guys! Everyone knows them,” says Carla Almeida, who handles marketing for 3 Surfers.
In short, it felt really good to learn to surf in Ericeira. Since I haven’t been on a board for a good decade, I might stick to a beginners class, with a few other travellers: a German and three Swiss, who have already done some classes with 3 skiers since they arrived in Ericeira a few days ago.
Joao, who will be our teacher today, takes us to Praio do Matadouro, a place that fits our talent … not yet proven. September is coming to an end, and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are very cold. Fortunately, a wetsuit and slippers protect us. After some instruction and stretches, it’s time to hit the waves, even if it’s more intimidating up close. Even at the beginning of the low season, there is a crowd of surfers and instructors in the water. At least each school has its own “territory”. “Sometimes, in the summer, it’s hard to see the color of the ocean, there are so many people!” João remarks, according to which the best times to visit Ericeira are spring and autumn.
One by one, we lunge forward, trying to stand on the board and slide for a few seconds in a standing position. João provides valuable advice every time. The tide is rising and the waves are getting fiercer. The power of the ocean is incredible, and despite the cold, I feel warm from the resistance of the current and waves, which push me backwards every time I try to catch another wave. Finally, it’s time to get out of the water. I think of the ocean and its wild power. And I understand better why Ericeira has become one of the most popular surfing destinations on the planet… stealing hearts along the way.
Opened in 2019 by the FLH (Feels Like Home) group, which also has addresses in Lisbon and Porto, Reserva is a facility designed specifically for travelers – especially surfers – who pass through Ericeira. Local artist Ana de Jesus imagined the design of the hotel, which is available in shades of blue and sand. The hotel has 26 attractive rooms on five floors, some of which offer great views of the small town and ocean from their private balcony. Among the facilities offered are a large bright common area on the ground floor, a delicious breakfast buffet and a large “surf area” in the basement for rinsing and drying swimwear and boards.
Where to eat
Ericera does not lack sustenance titles. A Balagan favourite, ideally located near Praia da Baleia. This charming venue serves Mediterranean-inspired fare, with several vegetarian options: hummus, various appetizers, and garnished flatbreads, to accompany a latte or a glass of rosé. In the evening, Tik Tapas is a popular spot. Better to book! The warm and authentic restaurant serves a variety of traditional Portuguese inspired tapas.
Where to hike
No need to search for lunch until two in the morning to find something to do in Ericeira (besides surfing, of course): just take a walk along the coast to enjoy the richness of the landscape. There is everything you need to fill your eyes with beauty for miles. Near Praia da Empa, you can’t miss Boardriders Quicksilver and “Hollyskate,” where young and old can ride their skateboards. In addition to being a shop, the place is a café with a sunny terrace where you can sip a drink – there’s even a counter where you can order poke bowls. After a busy day, stroll to Largo das Ribas promenade, which offers a view of the fishing port, then go sunbathing on “fisherman’s beach” and have a refreshing drink at Kayak Bar, a small, ephemeral bar open from May to October.
- royal village
- Ericeira has a long history with Portuguese royalty. Kings and princesses used to stay there during their holidays, many centuries ago. Also in Ericeira, the royal family took refuge in exile by boat during the October 5, 1910 revolution that removed the monarchy from power.
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