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Portugal Surf

10 incredible surf spots in Madeira to explore

surf na madeira

If you are just taking your first steps in surfing, Madeira is not the destination for you. But if you are looking for challenging waves in an out-of-this-world setting, then put this Portuguese island on your list of places to visit.

Surfing on this island is characterized by rocky bottoms, complex in-and-outs, and strong swells. But once you feel the energy of those waves, you will want to come back to Madeira again and again.

It’s no wonder that expert surfers who usually run the big waves world tour have already set up base there.

If you think you have the experience and courage it takes to face the surf in Madeira, continue reading.

Other outdoor activities to do between surf sessions in Madeira

OTHER Activities

Why is surf in Madeira so powerful?

Madeira’s surf is renowned for its powerful waves. Firstly, the island’s location in the Atlantic Ocean exposes it to consistent swells generated by both North Atlantic storms and distant weather systems, resulting in big swell and a constant flow of wave energy. Also, the rugged seafloor, with steep drop-offs and volcanic formations, amplifies the waves as they approach the shoreline and the reef break, creating powerful and often hollow breaks.

What are the best conditions?

The best time of year for surfing in Madeira typically occurs during the autumn months, when the North Atlantic swells begin to be more frequent. During this time, the west coast of Madeira comes alive. The ideal conditions often involve a combination of moderate swells and offshore wind.

The best surf spots in Madeira

1. Jardim do Mar

Jardim do Mar Madeira
Surfistas no Jardim do Mar Madeira

If there’s one wave that puts Madeira’s surf on the world map, it is Jardim do Mar.

About 45 minutes by car from Funchal, you reach a beautiful coastal village that spreads along a hillside and where the waves break big and fast.

A protective wall was constructed a few years ago, and the entrances and exits are made by a small fishing port that is not gentle to those who venture in. In fact, the floor itself is quite slippery, and you have to get in (or out) at intervals between sets.

But once in the ocean, emotions run wild, and you may well catch the best (and biggest) waves of your life.

Find the perfect place to stay in Jardim do Mar.

2. Ponta Pequena

Ponta Pequena Madeira

This wave is not easy to reach since it’s between Jardim do Mar and the neighboring Paúl do Mar. To get to Ponta Pequena from Jardim do Mar, you have to walk over jagged rocks for a good half hour, under the danger of some rocks falling from the cliffs or the rising tide. You have to have timing. But the path is gorgeous, and if you have time and water, it’s a good warm-up (and exercise for your legs).

From Paúl do Mar, the arrival to Ponta Pequena wave is by sea. From the fishing harbor, you will have to row for about half an hour to reach it. But if you are lucky, there may be a fisherman out for the day who can give you a ride there.

It’s not easy to decipher the size of the waves at Ponta Pequena. Only when you get there will you realize if you have what it takes to face those roaring swells.

3. Paúl do Mar

Paúl do Mar Madeira

Speaking of Paúl do Mar, a tunnel was recently built that leads directly from Jardim do Mar to this fishing village, making it much easier to access.

The wave here is right by the shore, fast (very fast) and hollow, perfect for bodyboarders or very experienced surfers. The end of the wave is right in front of the wall that protects this part of the village from the sea.

Find the perfect place to stay in Paúl do Mar.

4. Ponta do Pargo

The extremities of the island of Madeira are two must-visit places. Both Ponta de São Lourenço, in the east, and Ponta do Pargo, in the west, have extraordinary views and paths to discover.

But what you may not know is that in Ponta do Pargo, there’s one of the most challenging waves on the island.

To get there, you have to walk about 40 minutes down a cliff or get a boat to reach the place by sea.

There’s nothing to be fooled about: the waves here are intense and big, and you cannot count on any kind of support on land.

5. Achadas da Cruz

Continue towards Achadas da Cruz. To reach this place, you have to go down one of the many cable cars all over Madeira.

This ride requires some preparation. Find out about the cable car timetables (they vary according to the time of the year), know the tides, and analyze how the sea will be. The ideal tide for surfing will depend on the swell’s size on the day you want to go.

But the truth is, even if you don’t get it right and the waves fail, this is a stunning place, so pack your camera.

6. Seixal

My preferred place to surf in Madeira!!! 😅 This is because, by far, I have the experience and know-how to face others. Seixal presents a black sand beach protected by a jetty, where a high-speed wave breaks but is more accessible than others on the island.

Because the swell has to go around the jetty to break here, you should only go when the sea is big.

From the black sand to the massive cliffs and in the distance, the Véu da Noiva waterfall makes phenomenal scenery for this surf spot.

If you get here and there are no waves, at least you can take some fantastic pictures!

Find the perfect place to stay in Porto Moniz.

7. Ribeira da Janela

Ribeira da Janela Madeira

Not only is Ribeira da Janela a super demanding wave, but so is the way to get there.

Before the old regional road was closed and replaced by a set of tunnels that crossed the island, this wave was more on the surfers’ radar.

However, this road’s closure means that the way now is through an old section, which is in deplorable conditions and quite dangerous because of the constant falling rocks.

The wave is massive, fast, and has rocky ins and outs, which becomes even more challenging if the swell is big.

Are you driving a rental car? Park under the old tunnel to avoid extra damaging costs!

8. Fajã da Areia

Fajã da Areia Madeira

Of all the surf in Madeira, except for Seixal, Fajã da Areia is the “more friendly” since, despite breaking over rocks, it doesn’t look aggressive.

The waves, although strong, are generally long and good for maneuvering.

But don’t be fooled by it. It’s not rare to see broken boards around here.

9. São Vicente

São Vicente, Madeira

Also, in the São Vicente area, near the water promenade and restaurants, you can find another surfable wave. The beach is a combination of sand and rock, and it’s best to enter the water during middle (ideal) to low tide as it can break harshly on the sand during high tide.

10. Lugar de Baixo

Lugar de Baixo Madeira

Lugar de Baixo is the closest wave to Funchal, and if, on the one hand, the way there is faster, on the other hand, it suffers from the fact that it’s one of the most crowded waves on the island.

Although the entrance is made through pebbles, access to the wave is easy, and you can even spend some time studying it from the beach bar right in front.

This surf spot works from half tide to high tide, although with the latter, you have to deal with the so-called backwash (when the wave meets the shore, it turns back and goes against the wave that follows).

The wave is aesthetic — it breaks next to a boulder — and inviting, but it happens over a shallow and dangerous rock bottom.

Find the perfect place to stay in Funchal.

If you have made it this far, you may think that, given my descriptions, it’s best to stay home. I can’t blame you, but I couldn’t help but show you all the challenges you may face if you visit Madeira for surfing.

I have often encountered other surfers preparing to enter the sea without knowing the dangers, with the wrong board, and without the slightest notion of the consequences.

With this, I don’t want to shatter your dream of surfing this beautiful Atlantic island and making the best of every moment. I want to prepare you for what you may encounter. So that, in the end, you will have a memorable surf trip for the best of reasons.

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“But I’m a beginner surfer, and I really want to try to surf in Madeira”

If this is you, I can’t stress enough: don’t go in the water by yourself! If you are a beginner or want to try surfing for the first time, look for a surf school that can take you to the best surfing spots to learn or have the best experience.

Staying in a Madeira surf camp can also be a good option. In addition to offering accommodation in a relaxed atmosphere, you can take surf lessons and participate in activities that will take you around the island.

If you have been to Madeira and have more tips to share or have never been and have questions, use the comment box below. Let’s talk!

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Known as one of the best surfing destinations in Europe, Madeira possesses extraordinary waves that challenge the most experienced surfers.


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Marlene On The Move

Marlene Marques

Marlene is the creator of Marlene On The Move. A journalist by profession, she created the blog to share her adventures around the world. It is not unusual for her to set off to discover new countries and cultures with a surfboard as luggage.




  • Vince

    Great blog post
    Heading to Madeira in a couple of weeks.
    Do you know if waves break also at other little spots around the island (SW) or is it apart from the spots you’ve listed flat out there?

    • Marlene Marques

      Hi Vince! Hope you got some greats waves in Madeira. Apart from the breaks I talk on this post, I not sure of other waves surfable in the island. If you caught some other good one, let me know 😉 Aloha!

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