Surfing first started on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the 1970s in the ocean waters off the villages of Paul do Mar, Jardim do Mar, and Ponta Pequena. Almost every surf spot is rocky and powerful. No waves seem to break under six feet in the winter months, making it only suitable for the intermediate to experienced surfer. Madeira really did not come to the attention of foreign surfers until articles and pictures of the waves and beautiful beaches began to appear in surfing magazines in the mid-1990s. Since 1996 the top Portuguese surfers from mainland Portugal have come to the island to compete in Madeira’s most prominent surf competition “The Billabong’ Challenge’. The subtropical climate of Madeira makes this a great place year-round to surf, with October to May being the best. If this is something you want to master there are many surf schools and even a surf camp for 400 euros a week for room and board and 2 hours of surf lessons a day. This is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, with so much to do and see that surfing is just one of the reasons why Madeira receives over 1 million visitors a year. Paul do Mar: is an exposed reef break that has quite a reliable surf. Autumn and winter are the best times of the year for waves. Offshore winds blow from the northeast. This surf spot according to surf experts has the best barreling waves (also known as tubular or tunnel waves) on the island. Both stand-up surfing and bodyboarding are practiced at this spot. The ISA World Surf championships have been hosted on the islands which are better known to be held in areas such as Hawaii, which is gaining the region respect amongst professional surfers. The Paul do Mar region of the island is respected throughout the surf community as it offers eight-meter high waves with beautiful, clean beaches. The World Big Wave Championships 2001 was held at Paul do Mar as well as many other regional competitions. Ponta Pequena: another perfect right-hander. Punta Pequena is situated between Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar and has many of the same characteristics. The water temperature in the winter is around 24 degrees celsius. Watch out for submerged rocks, as they can be a hazard! Not very crowded here, a mellow beach.
Lugar de Baixo: really hollow and fast with the optimal months for the biggest waves being in the fall and winter. A great beach popular with locals. Some of the biggest waves surfed on the island have been on this beach.
São Vicente: on the north coast is a calmer spot suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers. Here there is a surf school where you can enhance your skills or learn the basics to get into the water safely while enjoying the calm waves that break in this calmer bay on the island. Jardim do Mar: Surfing at Jardim is only for the experienced surfer and swimmer as the waves break large. They start at around two meters and reeling right-handers can reach five meters sweeping along the rocky point. Jardim do Mar was documented in Jacob Holcomb’s film “Lost Jewel of the Atlantic.” Here you have phenomenal coastline views and a steady break of waves in one of the coolest spots to surf in the Atlantic.