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Kitesurfing in Portugal
The edge of Europe, bathed by the vast Atlantic Ocean attracts even the most whimsical, action-packed travelers. The sun is an almost daily companion, and the abundance of beaches makes it possible to enjoy not only the warmth but also the variety of water sports action.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PORTUGAL
Portugal is divided into a symbolic north and south by the Tagus River. The land above the Tagus is mountainous, lushly forested and vineyarded, river-run and slightly cooler. There is also the charming city of Porto, with one of Europe's oldest old towns and wineries.
The south is a mix of plateaus and hills, beaches, lagoons, surfers, cliffs, colorful towns, quaint churches, mysterious castles and on the banks of the Tagus river itself - the capital - Lisbon. In the south, of course, there is also the Algarve, a popular holiday region that attracts both lazy and active travelers.
Portugal may surprise extreme sports fans, and indeed there is no time to be lazy. You can enjoy the entertainment on your own or with the whole company by going hiking, fishing, exploring the coast from the water on a paddleboard, watching the biggest waves in the world or learning to surf yourself, diving or improving your kitesurfing skills, playing golf and tennis, or mountain biking.
Portugal's winemakers are true heroes, having managed to preserve over 250 of the country's unique grape varieties. Portugal's climatic regions are particularly favorable to grapes. Wine tourism is particularly thriving in the Alentez region. In addition to red and white wines, the Alentejo also produces special technology wines made in large clay amphorae.
KITESURFING IN PORTUGAL
As well as 800 kilometers of Atlantic coastline and large beaches, Portugal has a very mild climate and eastern breezes off the coast. This makes it a popular destination amongst kitesurfers around the world. The weather and spectacular winds make its waters the perfect place for beginners and expert kiters alike.
If you are a beginner at kitesurfing the South Portugal region - Algarve offers great kite spots where you can dip your toes into the sport. This area, known for its lagoons surrounded by sandy beaches, regular winds and calm choppy waters, is best to start flying the kite and learn in a safe and progressive manner. There are tons of kitesurfing schools settled at the main spots, ready to provide the right equipment and certified IKO instructors - all to guarantee your first encounter with the kite and water as enjoyable and safe as possible.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO KITESURF IN PORTUGAL?
There is a rumor amongst the kitesurfers' community that in Portugal kitesurfing is practiced 365 days a year, or, as they joke, "366 if it is a leap year". And indeed, winds in Portugal blow all year round, what varies is the direction and intensity, depending on the season and location. If you are an experienced kiter looking for a thrill and an extra dose of adrenaline, the entire Portuguese coastline offers Atlantic waves of all types, occasionally up to more than 2 meters. Therefore, the perfect time of year to kite is throughout the winter season, from October to April, when the strong onshore wind kicks in. Experts in kitesurfing, especially those who like wave riding and strapless kitesurfing style, will get their blood pumped. Whereas, beginners and intermediate kitesurfers should consider the months of May to October, as these are the months when the spots are a little less wavy and the wind isn't too wild, yet strong enough to learn and brush up on kitesurfing skills or enjoy some smooth freeride.
WHAT ARE THE BEST KITESURF SPOTS IN PORTUGAL?
Situated in the very north of Portugal, 40 minutes away from the famous city Porto, Esposende is a kind of lake that offers a perfect mix of wind, waves and calm waters. It stands out for the unique Ofir dunes, which form a natural barrier that protects the area from the Atlantic. For that reason, the conditions to practice kitesurfing are close to ideal.
Vau beach is one of many others located in the city of Portimao in the South of Portugal. The beach itself is a seductive stretch of golden sand, with those famous orange cliffs in the background and choppy calm water. It is relatively small and intimate yet spacious enough to launch and land multiple kites without any fuss.
Cabanas de Tavira
Is a tiny fisherman village near the town of Tavira in the South of Portugal. Offering remote, unspoiled beaches with the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. The two islands: Tavira and Cabanas, respectively, have 11 and 7 kilometers long beaches to please any kitesurfer. Winds there usually kick in from March till October at a speed of 12-16 knots.
Lagos is considered to be one of the best places to learn kitesurfing in the Algarve region. As the north wind kicks in through the mountain range of Serra de Monchique producing the perfect conditions between the months of May to September with the summer months being the best to kitesurf, with an average of 70% of windy days. Here at Lagos your can check out some of the kite competitions that take place here, like the Water Kings.
Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo, located in the North of Portugal, is between other two well-known kitesurfing spots: Moledo, further north, just next to the Spanish border; and Esposende, which is further down south. Considered to be the best in the north of Portugal with strong and constant wind from midday and going up throughout the afternoon. There is plenty of space to park the van, as well as kite and surf schools. On the beach itself, you can relax with a cool beer, rent kitesurfing equipment or store your gear. It is also one of the stops of the professional kitesurfing world tour (GKA) every year.
Photo: Rio de Aveiro Kiteclub
Is a typically coastal region, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ria de Aveiro. The charm of the Ria waters is directly linked to the watersports at Ílhavo as kitesurfers can ride on the calm waters of the Ria de Aveiro. Besides, following on from Costa Nova beach, there is the cosmopolitan Praia da Barra beach, which is a privileged location for water sports like kitesurfing.
Fonte da Telha
Being within easy reach, just a 40-minute drive away from Lisbon, Fonte da Telha is a perfect getaway for both residents of the capital as well as for kitesurfers from abroad. The spot is especially famous for its large white sand beach and favorable kitesurfing wind conditions during the winter months.
ABOUT THE COUNTRY
A Brief History of Portugal
Portugal has close links with the entire Iberian past, especially with Spain. Portugal shared a common origin with Spain before separating from it and becoming a separate nation with its own language, culture, lifestyle and customs. Portugal became the first European colonial power from the 15th century onwards, spreading its language and culture to at least three continents and many Atlantic islands. Portugal's past is closely linked to the Mediterranean world. The great discoveries of the 15th century led to the country's success. Portuguese sailors Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeo Diaz and Ferdinand Magellan began to reach the West African coast, India, Indonesia and China between 1395 and 1460. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached South America. In 1500, Pedro Alvarez Cabral was in Brazil. Portugal became a discoverer and colonizer of countries, as well as the center of World Trade.The first half of the 19th century was a curse to Portugal. First, there were the three invasions of the army under Napoleon (1807-1811). In 1822, the largest colony - Brazil became independent. During the years 1830-1846, the country was ravaged by civil war.As a result of these disasters, Portugal entered as one of the most backward countries in Europe. From 1926 to 1974, the country was subject to a dictatorship. In April 1974 a military coup overthrew the dictatorship and launched Portugal's pro-European policy.Between 1974 and 1975, Portugal recognized the independence of the African colonies. In 1993, it joined the European Union.
Other Attractions in Portugal
Apart from the incredible sceneries, nature and sports activities, the beauty of Portugal comes from its strong historical cities full of art, and cultural traditions, such as the melancholic Fado music. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a place where history has left important traces and an incredible mix of monuments. Visit the city's oldest neighborhood Alfama, which is also the birthplace of traditional Fado music. You can't miss Sao Jorge Castle either - Lisbon's symbol and a so-called ‘’privileged vantage point’’. A must-visit is the Jerónimos Monastery, which was built in 1505 to celebrate the return from India of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama. And a cherry on the top is the famous Pasteis de Nata, Portugal's typical sweets, prepared following the original recipe dating back to 1800. Other historic cities that will take you back in time with their baroque churches and different styles and buildings related to the Middle Ages are Oporto, Sintra, Fatima, Braga, and the list goes on.
Getting to Portugal
The fastest and cheapest way to get to Portugal is by car if you live in Spain, or you can also reach Portugal by other public transport such as taking the train and bus. There are direct lines to Portugal from the main cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, to name a few. However, you will have to change trains or buses several times and you will have to book these different journeys separately at the site of each of the train/bus companies, depending on your destination in Portugal.
If you are coming from further abroad, you have three international airports in Portugal: Faro in the south, Lisbon - the capital in the center and Porto in the north of the country. The airports accept direct flights regardless of departure city.
SIMILAR KITESURFING DESTINATIONS
The beaches of Esposende are in a protected landscape area, with large dunes and an abundance of flora and fauna. Throughout the year, but especially between the months of March and September, it is very popular with kitesurfers, as it has conditions that make the spot especially suitable for this sport. And, for those who enjoy sunsets, Esposende is the ideal place!
NATUREEsposende is an area of privileged beauty, at the mouth of the river Cávado, with a 14 km of coastline, surrounded by pine forests, possessing some of the best beaches in the north of Portugal, all of them included in the Protected Landscape Area of the Esposende Coastline. PATRIMONIAL COMPLEXEsposende as a city has important historical aspects of the region such as the Church of Misericórdia of the 16th century and the Church of Buen Jesus, the ruins of the Castle of S. João Baptista, the chapel of Senhor dos Mareantes or the squares of the market and of S. Sebastião. GASTRONOMYThe gastronomy of Esposende is equally rich, with a strong maritime influence, with special emphasis on oven-roasted sea bass, tainha, plaice, lamprey and, of course, fresh seafood, all washed down with the famous green wine (vinho verde) of the region.VINHO VERDEOn one side, the sea and the magnificent beaches of Esposende. On the other, the rural landscape is cut by the Cávado River, where in the region Vinho Verde grape varieties are being planted. Esposende falls into the region of famous Vinho Verde (green wine) production, therefore, there are plenty of farms offering Vinho Verde tastings.
KITESURFING IN ESPOSENDE
Accounted to be one of the most beautiful lagoons in Europe, Esposende is also a great wave spot just a stone's throw away. Half an hour drive from Porto (360 km from Lisbon and 600 km from Madrid), the kitesurfing spot is ultra-safe and offers flat and shallow water areas ideal for beginners. The beach is almost exclusive, with very few people. This makes it the ideal place to start kitesurfing away from the crowds of the more accessible spots. Knee-depth lagoon also makes it very safe for water starts and first runs. The river mouth is a great kiteboarding playground! On the other side of the river experts in kitesurfing will be able to enjoy 1.5 kilometers of the sea with waves and wind. Wind, weather and water
The surrounding villages such as Puglia and Ofir offer a unique beauty to this environment . Despite the urbanization, you will find lush nature here.
Wind, weather and water
Wind statistics for the summer season from April onwards are excellent, but the wind generally blows all year round. In the high season, a forecast of 16 knots usually happens to end up being 24 knots. The dominant wind direction is northerly: either North or North-West. On one side of the peninsula, you have a lagoon with flat or choppy water, perfect to cruise around, do some freeriding. Whereas on the other side - crossing the beach, you have the Atlantic ocean to enjoy some wave riding. Regardless of the time of year, the water stays fairly cold, so plan on a 4/3 mm or at least 3/2 mm wetsuit combination. The air temperature can reach up to 30°C, but the water temperature hangs around 18°C, slightly warmer in the lagoon. The Lagoon itself is tide-dependent, so don’t forget to watch the forecasts and plan your kitesurfing.
WHAT ARE THE BEST BEACHES FOR KITESURFING IN ESPOSENDE?
The area is protected by the reefs and sheltered by the peninsula itself from the Atlantic Ocean, creating a perfectly knee-deep flat water spot, ideal for beginners in kitesurfing. The take-off area to the Cavado River may be from the town side or from the coastline of Ofir. The kitesurfing area from Ofir is distinctly marked: the northern part is designated for schools, while the southern part, where a small bay with a flat area is formed - open to all kiteboarders. It is important not to get too close to the sailing boats and jet skis when kitesurfing near the town of Esposende, in order to maintain a good agreement with the local municipality, which permits to practice kiting just in front of the Esposende town.Wind direction: N-NWWater conditions: flat, choppy water, waves. Water temperature on average is 16°C.Discipline(s): freeride, big air, wave riding.Skill level: all levels (from beginner to expert).Watch out for: (hazards) stick within the designated kitesurfing spot, avoid sailing boats or those who are learning to kitesurf. Getting there: from the small harbor of Esposende, the access is mainly by boat. Kite schools located there are offering the crossing for 5 euros, which will drop you directly to the kitesurfing spot at the beach. Tip: tide-dependent spot, the spot runs for several hours around high tide, therefore, keep an eye on the tides.
Esposende is one of those spots that has been vaguely heard about, but also one that falls immediately under the charm. Being only half an hour away by freeway from the bustle of Porto, Esposende is an ideal kitesurfing location. It earned the name of a small and quiet seaside resort, a place without summer mass tourism. Esposende beach, opening at the mouth of the Cavado River and the Atlantic Ocean, is more suitable for advanced kitesurfers who can enjoy the waves of the Atlantic coast. While the flat waters and shallow areas of the lagoon itself are for those beginning to kitesurf. Wind direction: N-NW, blowing from 16 to 20 knots.Water conditions: flat, choppy water, small waves.Discipline(s): freeride, big air, wave riding.Skill level: all levels.Watch out for: (hazards) be careful with people around you when launching the kite during the high season. Getting there: the beach is a walking distance from the town. You can also take a car or hire a taxi drive.Tip: crowded during the high season.
TRAVELING TO ESPOSENDE AS A KITER
The closest airport to Esposende is the airport in Porto, which is Portugal's second busiest airport having international and domestic flights. Flight prices vary according to season, the departure location and whether you take a direct flight or have to change planes. From the airport, Esposende is a 30-minute drive away up north by car. You can either hire a car at the airport, take a taxi or take a bus. Bus tickets are usually cheap, however, the ride takes more time than going by car. These means of transport are the most popular amongst travelers.
There are multiple accommodation options to rent either Esposende or the peninsula of Ofir (just in front of Esposende). Often large, private, comfortable and cheap. The Ofir peninsula has hotels in a beautiful pine forest and the location itself is ideal for kitesurfers as it has quick access to the spots right there. It won’t require you to travel far or with inconvenience. You will be able to go to the spots on foot. Besides hotels, hostels and inns, there’s an option to rent an entire house or flat on Airbnb for the maximum pleasure.
Esposende is a beautiful area to explore, either on foot (along the boulevard) or by bicycle or motorbike (you can rent them at multiple sites in the city). You can also drive around by car or take public transportation. Local scheduled buses have routes and different stops in the city. However, to really get to know the city, it is recommended to do as much walking as possible.
Food and Drink
One thing is certain: if you go to Esposende you will be comforted by the number of good restaurants, cafes or pastry shops you will find here. To eat right there, on the waterfront, there are many beach bars and terraces, ideal for a coffee, a drink or more. To eat quite well in a restaurant it is best to move away from the beach and go further into the town. Fish is the main dish, of course, and can be grilled, fried or baked, with rice or pasta, as well as many different types of fish to choose from. And of course octopus, sardines, sea bass and other marine delicacies that will make your dinner table rich.
Besides kitesurfing, Portugal has other sports activities to offer to adventure seekers. Paddle SUP is one of them. You can ride on the Rio Cavado at low tides, through small channels that allow you to access the Ofir Natural Park Reserve. SUP rentals are available at basically any kite schools.Wakeboarding at a cable Gêrès National Park, located in the mountains. It is a 1-hour drive from Esposende, an ideal place to relax and ride, with a bar-resto on site. The cable park has a few figures: 2 sliders, 2 kickers and equipment rental. The park also offers kayaking activities.Other activities may be going to a skate park, swimming at an outdoor pool that has a solarium, or cycling on the Esposende waterfront.You can also always visit the city of Porto: the historic center of Guimaraes and the wine district of Vila Nova de Gaia. Have a boat trip down the Douro River. Treat yourself to dinner in one of many bars and restaurants that line the city's quays.
Portugal has quite a stable season between March to November though the best and most popular months are June, July and August.