What do you get when you combine 10 outdoor chicks, 10 surfboards, and an awesome house in Portugal?
A perfect week of surf, sun, and epic fun!
This was my first time in this part of the country — and hopefully not my last. The laid-back Portuguese culture coupled with a solid surf community makes Lisbon — and Costa da Caparica, to be more precise — the perfect destination for a surf holiday.
Spring seems to be one of the best times of year to visit this up and coming surfing mecca — just before the summer crowds begin take hold.
The Magnet Projects in Costa da Caparica was set up and is run by a lovely Hungarian/Dutch couple, Eva and Zoltan. This incredibly cool duo live just behind the main house with their gorgeous son and loveable dog Rusty.
Their motto? “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” And they have definitely created an awesome vibe.
My flight arrived a bit earlier than everyone else, but when I got to the apartment on the first evening, I was received with a warm welcome from Eva and Rusty.
Since the rest of the crew were not due to arrive for a few hours, I headed to the beach to catch the sunset and grab some food before heading back to the house to enjoy some calm and so some writing before the chaos ;)
Let the good times begin
Everyone arrived around 10 pm, chatty and brimming with excitement for the week ahead. It was great to meet everyone (some for the first time).
We easily could have stayed up talking all night but it was early to bed since the first surf lesson would start super early the next morning.
On that first morning, we all enjoyed breakfast together in the kitchen.
Then put on our wetsuits.
And headed for the waves with our coach for the week, Zoltan. He would school us the ins and outs of surfing.
Each day, the lesson started with some light jogging up and down the beach and warm-up exercises. Then, body surfing in the waves.
But you have to get yourself into the sea first! So, what's the best approach for getting into the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean? Apparently, just dive in.
Initially dunking my head into the cold water was a bit of a shock to the system. But surprisingly refreshing!
We spent a few hours getting used to our surfboards.
Then, it was time to call it quits for the day. Exhausted and happy, we all made a b-line for the local restaurants. And for the rest of the afternoon, most of us chilled out by the beach.
That evening, Zoltan took us through some surf theory. Once we had squeezed onto the couches in the sitting room (beer or wine in hand!) and he explained all about how and when to catch a wave. And most importantly, which ones to try and catch. And he also showed us some surf videos.
Finally, to end an already perfect day, Eva took us to a local restaurant just around the corner for some delicious seafood.
Sharpening our surfing skills
The following day was later start. We were all ready to try out the theory we had learned the previous day. Unfortunately, the ocean had other ideas.
The waves were pretty rough so as quickly as we got into the ocean, nature spewed us out again, one-by-one, like being thrown into a washing machine set on power wash.
That evening, a trip to a secluded beach then watching the beautiful sunset from a hilltop made up for an afternoon of abuse!
Thankfully the third day was much calmer and kinder — except for the 7 am start! After a quick coffee, we all sleepily piled into our rental cars to make our way to the beach. Veronica pumped up the music in the car to wake us all up and get us pumped for the day ahead.
We headed into the water, optimistic and ready to face the waves — whatever they decided to throw at us. And by the end of the session, everyone seemed to get the hang of it!
That afternoon, I went with a few others to nearby Essaouaira, an incredibly cute surf town nearby. We wandered the streets, grabbed some lunch, and watched the local surfers showing off their moves just before sunset.
The rest of the week was more of the same surfing, laughing, eating, and enjoying the company, relaxed atmosphere, and beautiful beaches.
And of course, we all took a fun trip to downtown Lisbon.
Then, as quickly as it all started, the week ended. While I would have loved to stay longer, I will just have to wait until the next surf trip.
So, what were the highlights of the week?
Of course, it goes without saying, learning to surf
Making new friends with some super cool outdoor chicks
Eating delicious — and cheap! — Portuguese food
Walking around the streets of lovely Lisbon and exploring the Atlantic coast
The joy of standing up on a surfboard for the first time — even though as quickly as I found myself standing up on the surfboard, I was plunged rather ungracefully back into the washing machine!
So it seems I’m definitely a long way off from seeing the inside of the “green room” — that’s surf speak for the inside of a barrel. Or for skiers and snowboarders, the equivalent of the “white room”.
I can’t wait for the next opportunity to improve my newly acquired surfing skills.
There is definitely something pretty amazing about getting up before sunrise to head to the beach with friends, feeling the cool sand beneath your feet as you warm up, and then plunging into the cold water in the hopes of catching that perfect wave.
For me, surfing was definitely a lesson in perseverance — if at first you don’t succeed, get back in the water and try again! And eventually, when you do succeed (to the applaud and cheers of your fellow surfer chicks), the feeling is incredible!
If you're interested in trying out surfing (or even if you're a seasoned pro), check out Portugal and the Magnet Projects! Or join the next Outdoor Chicks surf trip ;)