Guest blogger Elizabeth Montalbano shared with Travelogged how her experience of learning how to surf on the southwestern coast of Portugal taught her valuable life lessons as well. She has also been kind enough to compile a list of surf schools in the Algarve for those who want to pursue the sport — and perhaps a new way of looking at life — in a sunny, laid-back location with breathtaking natural beauty.
The Algarve Surf & Yoga Retreat, where I first discovered both surfing and Portugal, offers single, couples or group accommodation in teepees in a picturesque valley between Praia da Arrifana and Praia da Amoreira, and just a short drive from Aljezur. It’s owned by Australian native Laurie Quirk, but mainly run by a lovely couple named Carl and Cherie, who double as the chief cook and yoga instructor, respectively.
David Rosa, the Portuguese proprietor of the Odeceixe Surf School, which teaches lessons at Quirk’s retreat, also offers a surf camp that accommodates people in a tepee as well as various apartments in the local towns. The school also offers individual lessons and rentals (00351 963170493).
Another option in the Aljezur area is the Arrifana Surf Lodge in Vale da Telha, a small town situated between the Monte Clerigo and Arrifana beaches. It’s run by a charming couple, Aldo and Sarah Sprong. South African native Aldo is a friendly and patient instructor who teaches children as well as adults surfing; he would often give me advice when I saw him on the beach even if he wasn’t giving me a lesson that day.
Another outfit that offers surfing holidays as well as daily lessons and rentals is Algarve Watersport, which also hosts a surf house in Vale da Telha. Algarve Watersport also offers kiteboarding, wakeboarding and windsurfing lessons and adventures in the vicinity.
A little further south down the coast near Lagos, the biggest city near the Aljezur area and a party destination for foreigners, are two other options for surf holidays that also integrate yoga as well as other services — such as massage, gourmet cooking and hiking — into week-long holidays. Free Range Holidays is one, run by American-born but longtime Dubliner Leo Molloy, who serves as host and head chef. The yoga instructor and massage therapist on Molloy’s retreats, instructor, Diana Jost, also offers her own surfing and yoga holidays during the less busy winter months through her Algarve Yoga business in Burgau, just east of Sagres.
To enjoy more of Elizabeth Montalbano's writing, check out her blog Isn't It Pretty to Think So?, in which she muses on the foibles and triumphs of the human condition.