Since 1986 I have dreamed of surfing a stretch of coastline that I heard about one summers day from a young surfer from Portugal. He had described to be on that sunny day a place where waves turned into barrels like a freight train and where other sports you were always guaranteed offshore conditions. Now in 2010 I had finally made it to this surfing paradise, a place that offers wonder and delights and as my plane followed the taxi route to the terminal at Lisbon I looked out the window in anticipation.
I have been fortunate to have surfed in so many countries all over the world, but I have lacked one vital ingredient in that mixture of experiences and that was the stretch of coastline just an hour from historic city of Lisbon. Funny enough I had tried to get here before in the 1980’s but a huge city fire had prevented me arriving so I had taken a flight to another part of Portugal then, but now I was here.
Once through passport control I grabbed my 8ft 6” Hobie Pig surfboard and headed for the exit and to find my car rental company for the journey to the Peniche peninsula and in particular a little area called Baleal where I would be staying with surf camp called Ocean Ferrel. Ahead of me I knew I had “Super Tubes” plus lots of other fantastic surfing spots and I knew that this being late May I would get some great surf and few crowds.
The advantage of staying with a surf camp is they both know the area well but often have other surfers visiting which means you get to meet and discuss generally what has been happening. I have travelled so much nowadays but I do feel that sometimes it is good to travel with a surf travel company and in this case I was excited to see the set up. Ocean Ferrel Surf camp is situated on the road Baleal, two minutes from the beach, which links the village Ferrel. Located near the nightlife areas, such as clubs and pub’s. Furthermore it is also near the town hub where you have banks, bakeries for that early morning bread snack and crucially pharmacies just in case you get a bit of the surfers belly, although unlikely in Portugal I must say!
Checking in I was met by the owner Rui Norte, it was good to finally meet the face that had advised me in detail all the great things I could get up to this week. Sitting across the room were 3 surfer girls Julie, Steph and Ashleigh who were staying apparently on a learn to surf week booked through one of the surf travel companies that features Ocean Ferrel. There smiles said it all really, I just said surf been up girls… “Oh yeah… amping was the reply!” and the one thing a surfer knows over those that don’t surf is the stoke in the eyes of a surfer when they have been totally awe inspired hours prior, I could see this look in these young girls and I knew that I was in for some fun.
By now the time was mid-evening so I grabbed my stuff and headed to my room where I was sharing with a surfer from Newport Beach, Southern California by the name of Jeff. He quickly filled me in as to what was going on swell wise and where the swell was coming from the next few days and gave me the heads up on a few spots worth checking out, then it was off for some local fish meal and some local alcohol beverage just to wash it down nicely before the dawn patrol in the morning.
As dawn broke I grabbed my board whilst the rest of the house were sleeping and both Jeff and I headed for a quick dip in the morning surf just as the sun was rising. The good thing about Ocean Ferrel set up is that it is easy to do this with out causing any issue to the surf camp, they run a good solid schedule that you can then work round. We found a great little spot that was about 3ft and cranky nice rights with a good very gentle offshore breeze just starting to set the waves up. After about 30 minutes we had both had a few cover ups and some smooth rides and headed back to bakers for some local bread and I thought I would treat the house to some cakes too. On arriving back the girls were up and raring to go and the Ocean Ferrel team were just getting everything ready for the days lessons with the girls and Rui Norte was going to join us for some surf exploration.
The following week was filled with days of bliss surfing waves that I had dreamed of for nearly 25 years, they rode well and were powerful, and to be able to constantly find a spot that was offshore was just simply awesome experience. My visit to Super Tubes was everything I had dream of, 4 to 6 ft waves came in and just tube one after another like a freight train that would not stop, I would say that day I must have got 50 clear tube rides of varying length and each time I just remember looking out and saying I love this surf place called Portugal!
For details of visiting Ocean Ferrel Surf Camp follow the links below, you will find the company is small and friendly unlike others in the area and what’s more they offer quality set up from start to finish.