Ericeira is a famous Portuguese surf town known for its collection of world-class waves. Among its famous surf spots is Ribeira d’Ilhas.
Ericeira is a wave-rich region located 45 kilometers northwest of Lisbon and 60 kilometers south of Peniche and Supertubos.
The region has 22 other world famous surf spots – seven of them have made it Europe’s premier World Surfing Reserve (WSR).
“When I first came here in the 1980s, I fell in love with the area,” said Will Henry, founder of Save The Waves Coalition, the organization that runs the World Surfing Reserves program.
“It is a magical place, and this designation constitutes a formidable conservation tool to better protect it.
Within the prestigious 2.4 mile (four kilometer) perimeter you will find Pedra Branca, Reef, Ribeira de Ilhas, Cave, Crazy Left, Coxos and São Lourenço.
But there are a few other iconic peaks and waves that should be explored, including Matadouro, Praia do Norte, Pico do Futuro, Foz do Lisandro, and São Julião.
All in all, the “Eleven Mile Miracle” has consolidated Ericeira as the surf capital of Europe and the destination of choice for surfers from the Old Continent and the world.
One wave in particular – Ribeira d’Ilhas – stands out as one of the best surf spots in Portugal.
Ericeira: the quintessential surf town
Ericeira – the town itself – is a quaint little fishing village of 10,000 inhabitants.
But the number of surfing tourists visiting and staying for long periods – if not all year round – could very well double its population.
The uniqueness of Ericeira is not only in the constant surfing – there is also a preserved and protected natural ecosystem that surrounds the shore.
Ericeira’s first surfers were fishermen. They rode their boats on the waves when they came back from fishing.
The diverse and concentrated group of quality surf spots provide opportunities for surfers of all skill levels – big waves, small waves, expert waves and beginner waves.
Ericeira is the homeland of Tiago Pires, the very first Portuguese surfer to participate in the Championship Tour.
Ribeira d’Ilhas is by far the most famous wave in the region. It breaks 1.8 miles (three kilometers) north of Ericeira.
It was the first Portuguese surf spot to host national and international surfing competitions.
A high performance sculpture paradise
Ribeira d’Ilhas is the queen of all waves of Ericeira.
The legendary point break on the right attracts surfers from all latitudes looking for a long and efficient ride.
Knowledge of the Ribeira d’Ilhas range is essential to get the best waves.
As a result, the positioning and selection of the waves are the secrets of a memorable ride from a shallow take-off spot to the shore break.
“Sets are great if you can take off from the inside – from the outside you can’t really get there. That’s why medium and small waves can hug the reef,” said Jeremy Flores.
“I’ve learned this since I was about 12. I’ve been screwed up here a few times, waiting for the big guys, but it never worked. So my memory of the place helped. “
Fitness plays an important role in getting the most out of Ericeira’s crown jewel.
“The waves often look good from the beach. But when you ride them, they burn your legs, ”said Cornwall veteran Alan Stokes.
“You have to work hard on the first part of the wave before it accelerates in, and you have the right to make several good turns.”
“Then you’ll start to feel that your legs are killing you, so you’ll have to hang in there before you do one last power turn.”
Consistent, long and demanding
Accessing programming can be tricky and difficult.
You can either go for a long paddle outing from the sandy beach, or take a shortcut and time your entry through the rocky ground near the nearby headland.
A light offshore easterly wind propelled by a long period of westerly / northwesterly swells turns Ribeira d’Ilhas into a surfer’s paradise.
For example, it is not as protected from the wind as Peniche but handles it well in almost all weather conditions.
A small stream – “Ribeira”, in Portuguese – ends its course in the middle of the beach surrounded by the slopes of the valley.
The spot, one of Portugal’s national surfing treasures, is actually two waves in one.
“Pontinha”, a right-hand break point with a very narrow peak, is located further north of the main break.
In other words, it is the less traveled outdoor section of Ribeira d’Ilhas.
However, you can connect the sculpture sections of “Pontinha” to the beach.
Expect crowded and competitive lineup, a few tricky currents, and make sure you stick to the locals and basic rules of surf etiquette.
The waves of Ribeira d’Ilhas are surfable from two to 12 feet at all tides. In shoulder-to-head surfing, a skillful takeoff is essential.
Extremely low tide conditions can be dangerous, especially in areas with reefs, cobblestones and rocky seabeds.
On short days, a longboard is the best choice to fully enjoy the potential of Ericeira’s surf spot par excellence.
An unmissable wave-riding arena
Fresh water temperature in the range of 55-62 ° F (13-17 ° C) will require a good 3/2 – or even 4/3 – combination.
But with a clear four to six foot swell, you can launch into a long, flaking wave that will carry you up to three hundred meters (275 meters) across the bay.
The best time of year to surf in Ribeira d’Ilhas is from September to May.
There is parking, showers, surf rentals and surf schools, restrooms, cafe and restaurant. In addition, the town of Ericeira is full of hostels, surf stations, hotels and multiple accommodation options to suit all budgets.
The best place to check the conditions is the panoramic viewpoint located on the south hill. The setup kind of reminds us of Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia.
The observation area also includes “The Guardian”, a statue of José Queiroz unveiled on March 25, 2017, to celebrate the inauguration of WSR.
The tall and elegant sculpture aims to remind us of our duty to preserve the environment, in and out of the water.
Ericeira Surf Clube, the oldest local surf club, was founded in 1993.
Ribeira d’Ilhas is one of the largest natural wave amphitheatres in the world, and it should be on any surfer’s wish list.
Ribeira d’Ilhas, Ericeira, Portugal | ID and X-rays
Location: Ericeira, Portugal
Wave type: Point Break
Best wave direction: W-NW
Best Wave Size: Double Ankle Overhead (2-12ft)
Best wind direction: no wind or light E, SE
Best tide: Average
Best time to surf: fall, winter and spring
Best Board: Funboard, Shortboard
Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional
Crowd: good days and weekends
Water quality: Average
Risks: rip currents, reef, localism
Below: reef, cobblestones and sand
Water temperature: 55-62 ° F (13-17 ° C)
Getting there: bus, bike and car
Shops and surf rentals nearby: Yes