Trip to Nazaré : The Wave

Ride news | Travel to Portugal

Trip to Nazaré

On the platforms of a transport station in the Paris suburbs. The wind blows hard, the clouds only let through tiny rays of sun. The desire for elsewhere makes me dream. Suddenly, my phone vibrates, a video call from Cyril pulls me back to reality. I pick up.

” Hello poto ! I’m in Nazaré, look at this, there are f*cking avalanches of  water ! I’ve never seen this “

He tells me in a tone of voice mixing excitement and amazement.

When he says that, at first, I think he is exaggerating. That with all his years of kiting and surfing around the world, he must have seen such a huge wave. But no, he repeats to me, “This is one of the most incredible and imposing things I’ve ever seen, it’s incredible, you have to see it once in your life.”

After my exchange with Cyril, I ask myself some questions about this very special place. Here are some of them, How is formed Nazaré? Why the wave of Nazaré is so mythical in the world of the surf of big? And since when it is the case? I am going to take advantage of this article to give you some elements of understanding of this wave and to answer these questions.

Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca during his victory at the TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge 2022

As mythical as mystical, welcome to Nazaré ?

The big wave surfing competition has evolved a bit in recent years, going from several spots to two iconic ones for the 2021/2022 season. The famous JAWS wave on the North Shore of Hawaii and the gigantic Nazaré. The “waiting period” for the second one is from November 15th to March 31st. On February 7, 2022, the green alert is launched, the athletes have 72 hours to arrive from all over the world. On February 10, Nazaré is celebrating, it’s the big day of the year on the spot, all the pros from around the world are in the water for the stage of the TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge. Cyril made the trip for Wingischool, the school is located at about 60 km from the spot.

    • Some information about the wave

The Nazaré wave is the only one in the competition and one of the only ones in the world of big waves surfing to have a sandy bottom. This doesn’t make it any less dangerous than the coral bottom waves like Jaws, Teahupoo and others, but it does make it a bit different.

It is created by the presence of a submarine canyon passing from 5 km depth to 50m on 100km, which channels the swell of the open sea in direction of the shore under the lighthouse of Nazaré. This geology allows Nazaré to see waves of an exceptional height that can reach 30m.

Satellite view of the Canyon

The Canyon

The story of the discovery of the mecca of big waves surfing


Nazaré is historically a small fishing village located between Lisbon and Porto. In the 60s, the first surfers landed on the main beach of praia do Sul. The years went by and Nazaré’s beaches of Praia do Norte and Praia do Sul started to become popular in the bodyboarding community.

The life of the spot followed its course, the waves were beautiful but the spot was not turned to the few gigantic waves of the winter. That was without counting on the beginning of the big surf and Garrett McNamara. Alerted by a local friend of the presence of big waves, the Hawaiian surfer, went to the spot in the 2000s to check it out for himself. He declared:

” I have never seen such a big wave as in Nazaré ” Garrett McNamara

One year after his arrival, he caught a 24 m wave that went down in history as the biggest ever surfed. The legend was launched, the big surfers followed one another and the WSL installed a stage there. The wave follows one after the other and the magic still works as much, the winter of 2022 has seen once again the breaking of mastodons. A wave of 30 meters surfed in Nazaré as announced G.McNamara to the discovery of the spot is only a matter of condition, the athletes are ready!


See you next winter with Wingischool to have the chance to see the awakening of the monster on the cliffs of Nazaré.

In the meantime good ride,




Practical information :

You can go to the fort of S.Miguel Arcanjo to discover the boards of the big waves surfers offered to the municipality and learn more about the wave through photos, the topology of the place and testimonies. Fort of S. Miguel Arcanjo Open every day 10:00-18:00 (last entry at 17:30) Admission: 1€ (free for children up to 10 years old) If you are lucky enough to be there in good condition, go to the fort to see these avalanches of water.

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