Fun fact: I used to be a surfer.
I started surfing right after I got a car at the end of my freshman year of college and stuck with it for the remaining two and half years I lived in San Diego. I loved it and I think I was always a surfer at heart. I've never been more at peace than when I was out there on the water, waiting for the right wave to roll in. Once I caught that perfect wave, it was simply heavenly. I miss it quite a bit. That being said, I'm also an admitted fair weather surfer. I've been tossed around pretty good surfing (it's how I got my first concussion) and non-sandy bottom surfing just doesn't interest me. So it's been years since I've made it back onto a board - having moved away from the easy waters of Southern California years ago.
In planning our trip to Portugal - I was over the moon about the possibility of doing some sandy beach surfing in a country known for it's great waves. Until that darn concussion sidelined me. However, I would not be kept from at least a little bit of surfing sight-seeing.
For any surfer, a pilgrimage to Praia do Norte - just north of Nazaré is a must if you find yourself visiting Portugal. Not only is the site of Garrett McNamara's ridiculously epic ride down an estimated 100 foot wave (I'm sure even the non-surfers among you have seen the pictures) - it's also just the most beautiful beach I've maybe ever been to.
We followed a dirt road down to a made-for-a-lunch-break spot while driving between Pé da Serra and Soajo. We parked our little VW in between a hippy bus full of Germans and a camper van full of Australian surfers. It made for quite the pair of parties to park between. The Germans had an adorable blonde haired little boy who was more interested in our lunch than his and the Australians couldn't contain their excitement about the beautiful waves crashing along the epic coastline.
While there were no hundred footers out during our visit, to stand in this place and imagine that wave with Garrett McNamara surfing it was still quite the experience.