Ericeira is a traditional Portuguese fishing village-turned-surf resort just a 40-minute drive from Lisbon. It’s a relaxed place with surfers strolling its pedestrianised cobbled streets while elderly locals sit on communal benches discussing the issues of the day. Nothing is done now; everything can wait.
There are 10 surf beaches within the four-kilometre stretch of the town and they cater for all levels of surfers. Two kilometres north of the town is the beach Ribeira d’Ilhas which hosts the World Qualifying Surf Championships every August. You can catch a glimpse of how the professionals ride the world famous point break, Coxos, from a vantage point at the top of the road.
I took beginner lessons with local instructor, Flavio who greeted me with a smug smile and asked “Do you like my office?”. After a short warm-up with some jogging and stretching we practiced our surf stance on dry land before hitting the water. Beginners don’t need to be in water more that a metre-and-a-half deep, which makes surfing doable for kids and poor swimmers. All of the class was standing on the board by the end of the first lesson.
Surfing isn’t an easy sport to be good at. The learning curve is slow but its a lot of fun. When you fall it’s a crash into water or a churn in a foamy wave, which give a nice kick of adrenaline.
Surfing works up a special kind of hunger – one that’s not restrained by guilt – so it’s fitting that Ericeira is renowned as much for its excellent seafood restaurants as it is for surfing. A Parreirinha and Tic Tac are good restaurants but don’t have the stunning views that can be seen from Esplanada das Furnas. Furnas is all about freshly caught fish cooked simply. The staff show you the catch of the day and then barbecue your choice on the spot – and to perfection. Wash your meal down with a bottle of Portuguese Vinho Verde and trying their delicious homemade apple pie for dessert. The Sunset Bamboo Bar does a good, inexpensive lunch and the owner, Bruno, makes great mojitos.
There is no battling for balcony space at the Ericeira Echo Lodges; instead the afternoon can be spent in a hammock or sunbathing around its eco-friendly pool. Just a five-minute walk from the centre of the town, the Eco Lodges are six wooden, self-catering lodges in a secluded garden and around a pool. The lodges are basic but comfortable. Each one sleeps four and has its own kitchen and bathroom. The onsite common room resembles a wine cellar and had an honesty bar, pool table, reading library and some gym equipment.
All the lodges use solar energy to generate their electricity and little stickers with environmental facts are dotted around the living area, making you more mindful of the environment.
The bright green pool is an ecological pond, meaning that it’s chemical-free and uses special plants to clean the water. It’s more enjoyable than bathing in chlorinated water, provided you’re not squeamish about sharing the pool with small amphibians. I didn’t see many frogs but they do make their presence known with their croaking 24-7. If you’re a light sleeper bring ear plugs, because the frog song gets louder at night.
For more information on booking a surf holiday in Ericeira visit www.surfholidays.com