By Vera Schemainda
-Wave & Weather Conditions in the Area of Lisbon-
When you plan your surf trip, you properly ask yourself when it is the best time to go. Every time of the year has its own characteristics and advantages, so we can assure you that you cannot make a bad choice. Everyone going on a holiday wants to have a perfect time but you will have to decide for yourself which aspects are most important for you, but don´t worry, we will give you some advices to figure out the best option for you to go on a perfect surf holiday- no matter if you are a beginner or intermediate surfer!
Gota d’ Água Surf camp is located in Caparica near Lisbon area. It has a typical Mediterranean climate with comparatively short and mellow winters and sunny and warm summers. In the coldest month, January, temperatures vary from 10 to 19 °C and in the hottest month, August, you can expect anything between 24 to 33 °C. But thanks to the ocean even if it’s burning hot, the evenings and nights are not as bad as in a concrete jungle. There is mostly a refreshing breeze. So don´t forget to bring a hoodie or a pair of leggings even if you come during summer.
If we talk about weather and wave conditions you should always bare in mind, that sometimes exceptions are possible since we are dealing with Mother Nature and a globally changing climate.
Talking about surf conditions as a surfer you have to consider the wind, the swell and even moon phases have an impact. But what is this swell everyone´s talking about?
Swell is the collection of waves moving away from a storm in the ocean. Although the waves will all be of different size and power and heading in slightly different directions we can tend to talk about averages of all these waves as one discreet swell. This swell as it heads into shallow water at your local beach will make the waves you surf (or not depending on it’s size and direction!). (www.magicseaweed.com)
For us the direction of the swell is important and as a surfer you should always know how your beach is aligned towards the ocean to understand when you can catch the best waves. Caparica is open to W-NW (West-Northwest) swells from the North Atlantic, which are luckily quite consistent all over the year. In winter the swell on average ranges between 6 to 10ft (1,8m-3m) and in the summer between 4-6ft (1.2m-1.8m). For the beginners: A one-meter wave sounds like nothing, but wait until you are facing it, it will look for you like a 3-meter wave with your perspective.
With regard to the wind you always want to receive offshore winds (wind blowing out to the sea) which form the most beautiful waves. Luckily Caparica is blessed with a great occurrence of offshore winds. During autumn and winter the best wind conditions occure.
Average swell size and water temperature
Since we are facing the Atlantic ocean the water temperature is quite fresh and we recommend to wear a wetsuit. Still there are some summer days where you can go with your surf bikini or boardshorts. Water temperature ranges between 13 and 20 °C. Below you can check which wetsuit thickness we recommend for each time of the year. During December, January, February and March it’s nice to have some booties if you are more sensitive. I was always fine to surf with a 4/3 on colder days, without any extras.
Our insider recommendations for the year
Especially the first two months of the year can get very rough, when big powerful waves hit the coastline. For advanced surfers it’s a perfect playground but even if you are a beginner you can be lucky, with some small days (like we had this year around New year) to progress on green waves or we will go with you to a more protected spot. Some white-water exercises will be always possible. But remember, although Gota d’ Água surf camp is closed in January our surf school remains open all over the year. Another advantage is the comparatively empty line-ups.
Many other surf camps are not even open during this time of the year so we will have undoubtedly enough space around you. In January and February it can be a bit rainy but that it is pouring rain during the whole day is not very common. Since Portuguese people really don´t like rain at all a rainy session could even be a plus and you could be the only one in the line-up. This February, for example, we had a period of 3 weeks sunshine every day. Being able to wear just a t-shirt is no exception!
April/ May /June
Spring is coming and the temperature will rise for sure. Especially in June it can often be like in summer and the rain possibility drops decisively.
This whole period is actually a time of the year which is comparatively empty, not only the beaches but as well tourism highlights just as Lisbon or the Unesco World Heritage Side Sintra with its castles and forests. Flights, accommodation as well as rental cars are cheaper, compared to the high season. Only the time around Eastern might be an exception. As you can see on our graph, swell-size will gradually get smaller, but don’t worry there will be waves. Its just a bit softer on more days, compared to the tough winter times.
July and August are definitely crazy months. You will have many music festivals in and around Lisbon, our famous beach party: Wild Wednesday and the weather can become smoking hot with almost no rain at all. If you like the crowds and are curious to visit the weekly Jazz evenings in Lisbon, the Caparica music festival and many other events you should definitely come.
Then there is the big question about the waves. If you are a beginner, even advanced beginner you will have your fun with small fun waves. And you will have the chance to learn to catch green waves easier, without worrying to paddle out.
September October November
This is the golden time of the year, where it becomes less crowded and cheaper again, but the swell gradually becomes bigger and wind conditions are more perfect. In October, for example, the season for the Nazare Big Wave contest starts and lasts until March. During this time window the contest can be announced within a few days (we like to go there with our guest, if it’s on, by the way). The same goes for the World Surf League (the championship for the world´s best surfers) which takes place in October. There will be still many beautiful sunny days and even up to December wearing a t-shirt will be no exception.
Well, last year around Christmas we had beautiful days with sunshine, making it possible to eat a superfood Acai Bowl on the terrace and surfing some beautiful waves. Another highlight will be a Christmas market and Christmas lights in Lisbon. If you want to combine your Christmas shopping with some high-class waves, you should definitely come, because this year our surf camp will be OPEN, and also our surf school will be, so what are you waiting for?