Surfing in Portugal for Beginners
A few hours of researching later I’d found out that Portugal is a world-class destination for surfing, with world class waves. Which sounded a little scary for beginners like me. As appealing as the surf scene of Peniche and it’s record-bashing waves sounded, I was in search of a more gentle beach break that I could dip in and out of.
I was also looking for somewhere where i could learn to surf closeby to Lisbon. After much searching and review-scanning, I settled on a week learning to surf in Portugal with Dreamsea Surf Camp, at a beautiful beach just outside Melides – about an hour and a half south of Lisbon.
DreamSea Surf Camp Review
Dreamsea Surf Camp is a proper surf camp, perfect for those who want to learn to surf on a budget. The camp is a “proper” camp: meaning accommodation is in tents.
The large bell tents are built on wooden slatted platforms and sleep 2-3 people, include mattresses and they also have a lamp and power points for charging up your phone. The basic tents are just tents with mattresses on the floor (+bedding on request if you don’t want to bring your sleeping bag).
More luxurious options include Glamping, or ‘Glamping Deluxe’ which are larger and include double beds, chairs and a welcome amenity in the tents. The new Glamping Deluxe tents all face the sea and come with an upgraded breakfast and dinner menu, as well as a separate toilet block. These are currently available on special request and not on the website. I shared a basic tent, and had some of the best sleep I’ve had for weeks.
The camp was part of a larger campsite, which brought benefits like access to additional facilities such as a swimming pool, soccer pitch and tennis courts, however the shower blocks and toilets were a bit of a walk away (not ideal for mid-night toilet breaks or after a few beers!).
Travelling to Portugal? Read our Lisbon travel guide here!
The Community at DreamSea Surf Camp
Being part of a larger community is really important at Dreamsea. It’s the small things like everyone doing their own dishes, tidying up after yourself, and taking it in turns to take the surf boards to and from the beach (as surf lessons happen in shifts) that reinforce this point.
The Dreamsea staff work hard to embody this principle too, and they seamlessly blend into the camps – it’s often hard to tell who are staff and who are guests. Once a week there’s a trip to Lisbon to soak up the local vibes there, where staff and guests sightsee, listen to guitar jamming, and party.
Yoga at DreamSea Surf Camp Portugal
Yoga teacher Maria is someone who oozes calm the moment you meet her. For me, yoga is a must during surfing to help soothe my muscles, stiff from from paddling and being battered by the waves. There are yoga packages available to anyone who attends the surf camp, from 3 hours a week to 5 hours a week. The highlight for me was definitely the cliff-top yin-style yoga at in the evening, with the atlantic ocean at sunset as a stunning backdrop.
Surfing for Beginners in Portugal at Melides
Use of wetsuits and surfboards is included for anyone attending the camp, and on top of that you have the option to book a basic or ‘intensive’ surf package which includes one (or two for the intensive package) surf lessons a day. We were between 6 and 8 people per lesson, and the lessons rotated to different times each day meaning we all got to surf at different times and levels of tide.
The instructors were patient (for me a must on a surf camp with mainly beginners!) and kind. My surfing had its ups and downs—starting the week at a relative high, before getting beaten by the waves mid week, to popping up consistently on the last day. I had something of a breakthrough in that I finally realised what I’d been doing wrong most of the time: by not getting my back foot in a good position. The only disadvantage with the beach was that it was not possible to surf at high tide due to the slope of the beach, but the surf camp worked around that still managing to fit in two lessons a day for those who wanted them.
One of the things that stood out to me most about Dreamsea was their passion for nature. I learned from them that when it comes to sustainability and respecting the environment, it all starts with us appreciating and loving nature. When we love nature, we naturally want to take more care of it. Dreamsea is committed to reducing waste, recycling, and acting in a way that is positive environment. Above all, Dreamsea’s values are open-hearted, just like the communities of its camps.
My most memorable activity at Dreamsea (apart from the surfing) was a horse riding trek that I went on on the last evening with Passeios a Cavalo Melides. We rode the beautiful and locally reared horses through the pine woods and then along the beach in the beautiful evening light, to finish with a picnic overlooking the sunset.
I had an amazing time learning to surf in Portugal with Dreamsea, and loved my time in the water and out of it. The yoga and horse riding were highlights, as was the relaxed nature of the camp. There are many places to chill out during the day in a quiet spot in the sun or in a hammock in the shade. For those looking for comfort I would recommend going for the Glamping or Clamping ‘Deluxe’ option as then you have more space, separate loos (the campsite ones are a bit of a walk away) and you’re further away from the hubbub of the bar in the evening if you’d like to get an early night.
I met great people here, got to improve my surfing a bit, and loved living under canvas by the ocean. One of the things that makes this place so special is it is not surrounded by other surf schools, so there is plenty of room to breathe—in the water and out.
Learning to surf in Portugal with Dreamsea is great value, and well-suited to beginners who are looking to learn or improve the surfing. I definitely hope to come back here one day!
Have you learned to surf or are you considering it? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Use the comments below. .
Editorial note: I’d like to thank Dreamsea Surf for part-hosting me at their camp for accommodation and surf lessons. I really enjoyed my time, and as always, all opinions here on Soul Travel Blog are my own.
Dreamsea run surf camps in Portugal, Spain, France and central America; the European ones running from May to late September each year. You can find all the information and prices for their camps via their website. Each camp has a different vibe, with France being the largest and most party-focused, and Spain being more mellow. Glamping is recommended for couples, families and those wanting a more chilled out pace.
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