The first time I surfed, at 17, was a turning point in my life. There, at Praia de São João do Estoril, I bonded with this sports activity and never lost that connection. From that moment on, something was compelling me to get out of bed every morning to surf at Guincho.
That moment was 18 years ago, and my passion for surf and the sea has grown stronger. Three years ago, I wanted to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone and come to Costa Vicentina. I usually say that Praia do Carvalhal chose me and I gathered the courage to open my surf school at a place without any connection to the sport.
I fell in love with this place and never gave up my project. I applied for permits with the local authorities, and it wasn’t long until I owned my business on the sand that I could run my way. We stuck a sail to three wooden bars on the sand, and Surf Nature School was born.
The landscape and the surroundings here are exceptional. People who come here are awed by the natural beauty, and the quality of this beach for first-time surfers is unbelievable. To me, this is one of the best places in the country to have a first try at surfing.
That’s why our school is here. We welcome everyone with a smile and a laidback attitude to help turn their first time on a surfboard into a special moment.
Early this year, I finally opened a Surf Nature School in Carcavelos. I usually say how I went to Praia do Carvalhal to learn (and I’m still learning) and use that knowledge here. I went the other way. I know that three years ago I challenged myself and risked a lot, but today I feel better prepared, with more experience and a humbler attitude to compete with all the schools in the Cascais area.
Our story and mission
The sea was always a big part of my life. I was born and raised in Cascais, but despite this proximity and connection to the ocean, I began to surf late. I was 17, close to graduating from a computer technician course, and two of my classmates who surfed invited everyone to try it out. We went to Praia de São João do Estoril, and my first contact with the sport left a mark. That’s when it clicked, and the connection remains. I began frequenting Guincho every morning. Even when my friends didn’t feel like going, I got on my motorcycle and went anyway. I never enjoyed doing things alone, I enjoy sharing every moment with others, but surfing is different.
Despite being passionate about it, I never saw this activity as a life project or a source of income. To be honest, I always lacked the courage to take a chance. I was fortunate to pursue different careers in marketing, tourism, and the restaurant industry. But that urge to spend time in the ocean was rooted deep, and I began to teach some surf classes. It was only three years ago that I decided to have my own business.
When I discovered Praia do Carvalhal I had no doubt I wanted to open my school here.
I’m from Cascais, and the town was experiencing a boom in surf schools, so it would be easier for me to open a school there, I had all the facilities to do it. But I chose a unique location, 200 km from home, a beach that never had a surf school.
I always believed in the potential of Praia do Carvalhal, and I respect it immensely. I cherish the place that took me in, and I usually say it chose me. I took a chance on this location with a strong identity, in a dreamy natural landscape. So my school couldn’t be more than three wooden bars and a sail on the sand.
We’re at Praia do Carvalhal, in Zambujeira do Mar, the only beach at Costa Vicentina that faces Northwest. It’s a place with an exceptional daily routine. You don’t need a watch here to track time, and the poor mobile phone coverage helps you to spend time in absolute peace.
The beach is well frequented and has a fantastic atmosphere. Lots of families and kids come by for the water stream, which changes its course every year, and the rocks we have here. A unique landscape and scenery surround it, and I believe the ocean here is the best in Portugal for surf beginners.
The region is a retreat where you recharge and find peace.
Here we manage to be amongst hills, the mountain, and the ocean. A beautiful and indescribable scenery. We’re two and a half hours away from the city, in a sort of bubble where we immerse ourselves in Nature. We have fantastic places nearby, rural tourism units and businesses managed by entrepreneurs dedicated to the region.
People are friendly and hospitable and, furthermore, they are proud of their land, so they do anything to protect it. Alentejo and Costa Vicentina rejects the harmful ones and welcome as friends those with good intentions. High-quality and affordable local food, fish, and shellfish are one of the area’s most significant assets.
Two kilometres from Praia do Carvalhal, you’ll find another beach that’s also one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. It’s called Praia da Amália, once the secret beach of world-renowned Fado singer Amália Rodrigues. Always ahead of her time, the singer discovered this deserted place 40 years ago and built her holiday home there. To get there, you need to walk through a small forest for 10 minutes. There are plenty of surprises along the way, like small creeks and Nature in its purest state that peaks as you reach the beach.