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Surfing. Makes laughing happen. | Photography by Katie Rae


 

We’ve chosen this corner of the Iberian Peninsula in Portugal because a) it’s pretty damn beautiful, and b) it boasts amazing waves and conditions for all abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned salty sea dog or a beginner gliding into your first waves, no worries; the South Western Algarve has it all.

 

Both the Western and Southern Algarve coastlines are littered with beach breaks, point breaks, and the occasional reef, all positioned to make the most of the wide swell window of Cape St-Vincent.

Our soul of surfing programme is designed to pass on our love of all things ocean to you. From wave-riding on all kinds of craft (focused for your level, be that beginner, improver, intermediate or beyond) to ocean awareness and activism, to blue health and how the ocean is good for the soul.

As we say, way more than your usual ‘pop-up-on-a-foamboard’ surf school. But do scroll down for full details...

Whatever your experience level, there are waves here for you.


A Boutique Surf Camp

We tend to avoid using the term surf camp, because the community-focused surf, yoga, dining and holistic experience we offer is worlds apart from your standard low-rent surf camp offering.

A typical surf camp experience would involve simple accommodation, basic catering and is generally aimed at the budget end of the market. Some customers however have begun referring to us as a boutique surf camp and that’s a term we feel a little more comfortable with. We work hard to focus on the stuff that’s missing at these basic surf camps - we hire great teams, find great locations and consider the whole experience. 


Our Algarve Surf Lessons & Guides

Our Western Algarve location gives us access to the perfect beach for any conditions mother earth throws at us… well, almost any conditions. And we offer soul surfing lessons and sessions dedicated to all levels of surfer - from absolute beginners, to improvers and intermediate surfers and beyond.

Our lessons break down to 4 different levels of surfer; the level 1 surfer that is looking to catch their first waves, the level 2 surfer that is looking to explore unbroken waves for the first time, the level 3 surfer that is looking to improve on their basic manoeuvres, and the level 4 surfer who has a lot of experience and is looking to put themselves into more challenging waves, or is finding themselves a little stuck or frustrated.

More details about our level 1-4 lessons and how they can benefit you can be found by clicking that clever little 'read more' button below.


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Skill Levels

Level 1 – Beginner

A complete beginner or someone that has surfed a few times but is still catching unbroken waves.

What will you learn?
  • The absolute basics in a fun, safe and encouraging environment.
  • Safety on the beach and in the white water, how to handle your board and how to negotiate your way through breaking waves.
  • We’ll introduce you to your equipment and explain the basics of a surfboard and what that means to you as a surfer.
  • How to catch forgiving waves and how to understand the basics of controlling a surfboard whilst laying on your belly in the prone position.
  • The techniques to get to your feet and how to maintain stability and build on consistency.
  • Basic manoeuvres in the white water such as speed and control as well as turning right and left on a wave.

Your success will come from your willingness to learn new things and not being afraid to fall.

Theory Sessions

As part of your level one coaching we will run theory sessions on location at the beach, in the hotel as well as in the pool.

  • Currents / rips how to deal with them
  • Different types of waves
  • Swell generation
  • Onshore vs off shore
  • Right vs left
  • Surf etiquette
  • Terminology and radical surfer talk!

Level 2 – Improver

You’ll be an improver or a low-end intermediate, someone that has had some lessons, is catching white water waves on a regular basis and can perform basic turns left and right. You will also show that you can surf in a safe manner.

You may have even caught a couple of unbroken waves and are experienced trimming down the wave.

What will you learn?
  • Advanced safety, specific to the spots we surf as well as the waves that you may surf at home.
  • We will get specific about your stance, your body position and how it will affect your rides.
  • We will work with you to improve your Pop-Up technique.
  • You will improve the efficiency and techniques paddle strokes enabling you to build on your endurance as well as explosiveness.
  • You will learn how to negotiate the inside breaking waves and how to paddle out to unbroken waves.
  • You will learn the difference between white water waves and unbroken waves and learn how to catch a wave before it breaks.
  • You will understand the difference between forehand and backhand or frontside and backside as well as understanding the basics of trimming along a wave.
  • We will use video feedback sessions to help you take your surfing to the next level - looking at and analysing your surfing. Video analysis is the best way to see your surfing, to look at the positives and to see how to correct any mistakes and improve on techniques.
Theory sessions

As part of your level two coaching we will run theory sessions on location at the beach, in the hotel as well as in the pool.

  • Priority & line ups
  • How to get through waves using a turtle roll
  • The difference between a white water (broken wave) and unbroken wave
  • Wave forecasting
  • Surfboards and different forms of surfing

Level 3 – High Intermediate

You will be a high-end intermediate surfer, proficient in the water, able to paddle through waves unassisted and able to negotiate your way around a line up. You will be able to catch head-high waves and can trim left and right on a variety of different waves.

What will you learn?
  • We will search the coast for the best waves of the day and work with you to understand new, more challenging surf spots.
  • We will help you to maximise your wave count and learn how to find the fastest trimming line as well as what type of manoeuvres to perform and when.
  • We will work with you through video analysis sessions to help improve techniques, body positions, position on the wave, carving turns cutbacks and floaters.
Theory sessions

As part of your level three coaching we will run theory sessions on location at the beach, in the hotel as well as in the pool.

  • Improving and speeding up your pop-up to make more critical drops
  • Duck diving
  • ‘Spot X’ - the best place on any given wave for a surfer to take off
  • Wave forecasting
  • Surfboards and different forms of surfing

Level 4 – Advanced

Advanced shredder, better than us! But we’re not just talking short boarders here, we have a passion for all surf craft.

Our level 4 lessons are aimed at the surfer who has a lot of surfing experience but may be a little stuck or frustrated. The surfer will be able to perform in a variety of conditions including some very challenging or less than perfect waves. You should be comfortable surfing a variety of different beach breaks, river mouths, points and reef breaks. The level 4 surfer will be able to do more than just trim along a wave, you’ll be able to control your speed staying in the pocket when needed and speeding through section if required, linking turns and manoeuvres.

What will you learn?
  • We will search the coast for the best waves of the day and work with you to understand the most challenging surf spots for the day's conditions.
  • We want to take you out of your surfing comfort zone to break down and work on specific manoeuvres.
  • Using video analysis, we will work with you to break down each wave, seeing where speed can be managed, manoeuvres linked and turns executed in more critical parts of the wave.
  • We will work with you in taking this new knowledge from the video feedback sessions and applying it to your next surf.
  • We will look at the functionality and style within your surfing. It’s one thing to be able to do a cut back but to make it look good is a different matter!

Our aim with you is to push your surf and open up new possibilities - giving you the tools you need to continue your progression.

Theory sessions

As part of your level 4 coaching we will run theory sessions on location at the beach, in the hotel as well as in the pool.

  • Improving and speeding up your pop-up to make more critical drops
  • Duck diving
  • ‘Spot X’ the best place on any given wave for a surfer to take off.
  • Wave forecasting
  • Surfboards and different forms of surfing

You must be able to swim as a basic requirement to attend our lessons.


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Our soul of surfing programme is designed to pass on our love of all things ocean to you.

 

Surf Conditions In The Algarve

We’ve chosen this area to have access to both the south and west coasts of the Algarve. Within a 45 minute drive we can access so many beaches offering up different types of waves, depending on the conditions.  

Let’s face it, this is the Atlantic so we will still be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Round these parts, it all depends on the ever-changing tides. We can’t predict exactly when we’ll be surfing, or where we’ll be going. We kind of dig the fact that we’re letting nature lead us, and it also means we can be flexible with our days.

In the summer months the west coast picks up all available swell that the Atlantic has to offer with consistent waves generated by the constant north winds. The west coast consists of mainly beach breaks that offer great white water conditions for beginners and fun unbroken waves in smaller conditions.

During bigger swells the west coast really lights up and offers more challenging waves for those surfers looking to test themselves. And with these conditions, the swell wraps around Cape St-Vincent delivering waves to the beaches of Sagres and the south coast. Sagres has a few different beaches facing different directions where the waves are usually a little smaller but offer up fast, fun waves for you to test yourself on.

It’s during autumn, spring and winter that Portugal is blessed with south swells providing us with a lot of options closer to home.

With the right wind and the right conditions, you’ll likely find nicely groomed 2-3 ft waves hitting the shores. Portugal receives consistent swell year-round and Lagos is perfectly positioned to make the most of both the west and the south coasts - and to maximise our chances of finding some sheltered waves.


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Our Surf Seasons

Spring & Summer Season | March – September

Spring and summer is when the Algarve is at its warmest and with (very) consistent winds blowing from the north there is always a wave on the west coast. This is the season to expect small and playful waves and at this time of year we will be keeping an eye out for ‘Lavante’ swells generated by the east winds blowing from the mediterranean that allow for some summertime south coast waves. For the busier tourism months from June through September we will head to our base on Castelejo. These months the wind tends to be like clockwork, being very light in the morning and building through the day. For this reason we head out early to catch the windless and proverbial worm.

Autumn & Winter Season | October – February

Autumn through spring is an exciting time as a surfer to explore the Algarve and although the nights are cold, it’s often still warm enough in the day to wear t-shirts and shorts. The waves are bigger and more consistent at this time of year and often the water is warmer than in the summer. Those big north-westerly swells that track through the Atlantic can wrap around into some hidden coves and beaches along the South coast lighting up the point breaks and beachies.


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Whether you’re a seasoned salty sea dog or a beginner gliding into your first waves, no worries; the SW Algarve has it all.


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Surf amongst some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe


Surf Equipment & Preparing For Your Trip

Here's everything you need to know about what you'll need for your trip - and how you can get ready too...

Equipment Available

We have a few boards available to hire throughout your stay, from 6ft short boards through fun boards, mini-mals, long-boards and a good range of beginners foam boards. Whatever your level and however you progress we’ve got the right board for you and the conditions.

We’ve got all the other stuff you need too - from leashes to wax plus we provide Soul & Surf rash vests for those on lessons so there is pretty much nothing to bring except for surf/swim wear —and lots of water-proof sunscreen.


Before You Arrive

Of course you can just dash out of work, hop on a plane and be with us the same day. But if you can start some preparations before you leave you will really feel the benefit. Here’s a few things to get you going before you get to us, particularly if you are not a regular surfer - and you might want to check out resident yogi and surfer Rach's journal post on 'getting surf fit' too.

PREPARATION
Watch as much surfing footage as possible, get familiar with how it looks to ride waves 
Look for different types of waves and how different surf spots attract different styles of surfing 
Do 10-20 press ups a day for a month before you come 
Go swimming and set yourself targets which are reachable in terms of endurance in the water 
If you have never surfed before try bodysurfing in the sea if you can 
Try skateboarding if you can, longboards and/or carve boards 
Try to build core strength muscles, work ALL muscle groups in the core 
Hold your breath in the bath or at the pool, time yourself and try to extend 
Unfortunately though, the best preparation for surfing, is surfing

*Please note, none of the above is medical advice, consult your doctor to be sure. 

 


Kids Surf Lessons

Safety and professionalism are the cornerstones of surf coaching at Soul & Surf. This is even more true when working with kids, we cannot ask our instructors to go beyond what their qualifications and governing bodies advise them to. Here are our guidelines on what surf lessons might be available for your kids:

  • Under 6 — we cannot accept on surf guides or lessons. 
  • From 6 to 12 — lessons are available if you can demonstrate your child’s swimming ability. Please note however that we require one parent or guardian to be in the water supervising each child at all times, since our instructors will have other guests to attend to. The guardian can not join the same lesson while they are supervising the child. 
  • From 12 – 16 — lessons are available with a parent or guardian supervising at the same beach. The guardian may join the same lesson if they wish.

Whetted your appetite? Download your free guide to the surf spots of the Algarve, compiled by us.


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