300 days of summer
The legendary waves are well known for being world class here in Portugal, and the lengthy 200km Algarve stretch is a whopper of a spot for all water sports, but kitesurfing in particular. Let us take you on a journey to the south of Portugal to this diverse destination, with stunning cities and hidden gems around every corner. In-land. On-land. Off-land. Here, you have the pick of the litter. From glassy lagoons to soaring waves and every imaginable bit of fun in between.
Expect your expectations to be met, but always expect the unexpected here in Algarve! Ok, that makes little sense to you while sat at home reading this, but it will when you’re out in Lagos, home to one of the best kitesurfing spots in Europe.
The preferred seasonality in Portugal can really depend on what your kiting ability and style is. During winter, the southern coast of Algarve endures the SW storm winds heavy and hard, followed by SE – NE offshores. These Mediterranean "Levant" winds come and go in a hurry and wave heights can reach double overhead in some spots. A bit full on for some.
Summer is calmer, with the coast offering perfect shelter with offshore breezes. The "Nortada" blows from April to September, offering N-NW dominant winds, making it this famed spot for kitesurfing.
With timid glassy mornings followed by 11-21 knot gusts, winds regularly ramp up to 25 knots throughout the summer season. The Algarve area does get occasional blusters reaching up to 30+ knots into the evening (which is pretty epic during sunset) but it can get a little too gusty for some if you're not a comfortable kiter. There is consistency in the surf along this coastline but less in terms of wind, and as you get further out west towards the Atlantic coast, things start to mix up a little (a lot) more with everything. In an absolute flurry!
Whatever the weather, the one thing you do need to bear in mind is that the Algarve weather is changeable, merging the Atlantic & Mediterranean seas means that things change fast & furious. The locals are hot on the case and will update warnings when things get a bit heated, or busy ... my advice is to listen to them! There may be forbidden kiting signs dotted around and trouble starts if you ignore the Portuguese!
Temperature wise, the general rule of thumb is that it is warm in summer (24 - 32°C), colder in winter (14 – 20°C) and water temperatures fall near the lower part of these (24°C in summer and 15°C in winter).
The best winds fall as follows: Season South Coast = March – September, Season West Coast = November to March
What is worth a bucket and spade, is that the Algarve is not only a kitesurfing paradise, but also a sun-lounging haven, with over 300 glorious days of sunshine a year, you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t rain during your visit here.
Where to rig up?
There are a tonne of kitesurfing gems dotted all along the Algarve coastline and you won’t be bored, that’s for sure. To make things a little easier, here are the hotspots for you to keep on your radar. There is something for everyone in this area, and not everyone knows about it!
Tucked down a 600m a dirt road, and set back from the Algarve in an estuary, Alvor Lagos lagoon is the all time favourite. Offering protection from the offshore winds, this spot boasts a sandy base, crystal clear, tepid shallows, and is perfect for beginner and intermediate kitesurfers.
This flat water lagoon offers something for freestylers, freeriders, beginners and of course the speedies. It is close to Lagos town, a small spot that is buzzing in the summer, with a cool hipster vibe and a few kitesurfing schools if you’re after some tuition!
Ria de Alvor Meia Praia is the most popular beach in this hood. Super beginner friendly, but perfectly suitable for all skill levels.
The onshore winds are fairly sheltered, so things rarely get too intense here, and there is enough space for everyone to launch, so you can really take it easy and not feel rushed.
Praia Da Bordeira, Carrapateira
A hop skip and a jump away around to the west, there is Praia Da Bordeira in Carrapateira, a top kitespot for the winter season. After passing through Bordeira town, follow the sand dunes and either leave your car before the rocks or on the rocks. Then it's just a short walk down to the launch site.
This is open ocean spot known for its humungous waves. The best conditions for kitesurfing here are from October to March. You're in the Atlantic so you know things are going to get hairy out here, but it is yet another one of Portugal's most famous kitesurfing gems.
Just about half an hour drive from Lagos, it's a fab option for a road trip from the Algarve, offering a completely different environment once again. The cross-onshore winds make this famed spot not just popular with surfers, but kitesurfers too. If you don't quite feel ready for the big blue yet, the area also benefits from a flatwater lagoon hidden by the estuary, worth checking out.
Just south of the headland (in between Lagos and Carrapateira), you'll come across Amado – a somewhat unique place that may be worth keeping on your radar if winds permit. Generally speaking, the south-westerlies are too much to handle even for the most experienced kitesurfers, but when it's a northerly blow, this area can contain some enjoyable big waves! Best in winter and good skills needed.
Taking you further east now, past Faro airport and beyond into a Natural Park. Now this really is a gem – the hidden Ria Formosa. Sand dunes shape lagoon after lagoon that network out to the open ocean, connecting the two at high-tide. There are 3 main launch sites in this area:
Olhao (Praia Cavacos)
Flat water lagoon and jump & bump (max. 2 metres) makes this the most fun, but it can get busy here unfortunately (apparently, it's one of the 12 wonders of Portugal)! Best in summer season (March to October), ideal conditions are SW side-on winds (11-18knots). Peak summer afternoons can get a little gusty, so recommendation is to bring your big kites for then!
Respect the protected areas and avoid kiting in the swimming/bathing zones. We don't want any accidents with protected humans or birds. Everything else here is perfection, with warm, crystal clear waters, a sandy bum and barely any tide to worry about!
Algarve is described as a "land of contrast" there is everything you could imagine to do here, and a hellava-lot-more!
Tee Time: If you like golfing as much as you like kiting, then Portugal's Algarve is home to some of the best golf-courses in Europe including Penina Championship, Quinta do Lago Golf Course
Cave Time: There are a few cool caves that you should know about here on the Algarve Coast. Get deep and dirty in the "Benagil Cave", voted one of the top 10 Coolest Caves in the World, you can boat, kayak or swim (!) into the depths of underground wonder!
Coasteering Time: Head to the beautiful Natural Park of Costa Vicentina between Sagres and Lagos and explore this adrenaline packed coastline. Climb, scramble, cliff jump and fall into the Algarves abundant beauty.
Enjoy the ride!