São Torpes beach is my home. I often say I live here and go home only to sleep. I remember learning to swim at this beach, my father’s favourite.
This is where I grew up and where, at 13 years old, my brother and I picked up our first surfboard. It was a new world to discover and, little by little, we christened the waves, got to know the beaches, and understood the sea and the coast. We were at sea all year long, even in the Winter without suits. The cold was not an issue.
The passion for the sport kept growing and as time went by all I wanted was to be in the water on a surfboard. We founded the first surf club in the area, and I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to hold back the desire to return to the ocean.
I, then, decided that living to surf was the only thing that made sense and São Torpes was the ideal place to open my own surf school, so I founded the Escola de Surf do Litoral Alentejano, the first of its kind in the area.
People used to tell me I was overly ambitious and laughed at me when I said to them I was making a living out of surfing. But my willpower was as strong as the ocean, and it’s been 20 years since I taught my first lesson. Today I still do what I love the most, sharing and showing how inspiring it is to travel this sea on a board.
In 1998, the surf was in its early stages in Portugal, and surf schools were practically inexistent, which led me to travel to other destinations to learn more about the surf culture. In Alentejo, we can say we were forerunners.
Our story and mission
I was born in Angola, and I came to Sines when I was a few months old. In 1975, my family settled in Vila Nova de Santo André, and I soon discovered the beauty of the São Torpes beach and fell in love with surf.
I taught my first lesson over 20 years ago, on 1 April 1998. I’ll never forget the date. At the time, I don’t think I was sure I wanted to be a teacher, but I succeeded in sharing my expertise and knowledge. In the beginning, it was hard because no one knew what a surf school was and the activity wasn’t well known here yet.
If this was today, I don’t think I’d have the courage to go through with it because everything then was ahead of its time. I started by convincing the kids, talking to local schools and teaching some surf lessons for the Physical Education class. At that moment I realised we could be on to something because we started having regular students all year long.
We marked a generation of kids who grew up highly connected to the ocean. We passed on to them the dream of becoming professional surfers, and we trained good athletes.
Little by little Portugal became a surf country, and people began to discover Alentejo not only as a holiday destination but as a place to live.
We work with children, so we try to be role models, passing on the values we believe are the ones to live by. I’m always happy to meet former students, now adults, who tell me I was like a father to them.
The other day a friend congratulated me on how I treated every kid with dignity. I don't know any other way of doing things, but it’s always great to hear it from other people, and that has always been the core concept of the school: to train new surfers by giving them a positive, safe, and healthy connection with the sport.
Escola de Surf do Litoral Alentejano, at the São Torpes beach in Sines, is a childhood dream come true. This is where I learned to swim, and this is where I discovered surf when I was 13 years old. I’ve been sharing my passion here for 20 years.
The sea is my home
We’re at the São Torpes beach, south of Sines. As we arrive at this beach, a postcard-perfect scenery welcomes us. From here we enter the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina that goes all the way down to the Algarve.
This is a one-of-a-kind place, a protected area, so unique not only for its coast with untouched beaches and great extensions of sand but the forests further inward.
Even people like me who’ve lived here their whole lives are surprised often. I can’t say I know all the secrets of this coast.
Then we have Sines nearby, a city with a unique environment and energy. There you can visit the castle and the historic centre, and in the Summer, there are plenty of festivals, festivities, and fairs to attend live music concerts and have fun.
It’s also one of the best places to try local cuisine. Everyone enjoys the local grilled fish, shellfish, and other delicacies.
São Torpes beach is perfect for surfing beginners. It faces the Southwest and is protected by the Sines cape, which makes it a place where you can surf all year long. There aren’t many beaches like this one in Portugal, especially with such warm waters. That is a secret that surprises everyone who comes here for the first time.