We’re headed 100 km north of Lisbon to Peniche, a small beachside town home to some of the biggest breaks in the world, and also playing host to the world championships each year. We’re staying at Surfers Lodge Peniche, which is where the pro surfers stay when they're in town, so we feel like we’re already on the inside track here.
So what's the vibe...
The lodge is owned by John Malmqvist, a former Swedish surf champion, and clean Scandi vibes run through the design and interior of the lodge. The crowd is understated cool; lots of Swedish design types on a weekend away, but also local surfers head there for the weekly rooftop parties, where you can enjoy the laidback vibes, house music and great cocktails…oh and did I mention the rooftop pool?
The restaurant at the Lodge and the Rooftop pool.
And what about the rooms?
The lodge is made up of 17 rooms, all uniquely designed. Think lots of whitewashed wood, hemp, and driftwood decorating the room. The beautiful walk-in shower in polished concrete is a highlight - perfect after a hard day hitting the waves.
Time to ride the waves...
We headed out daily to ride the waves...or at least try! The surf lodge offers two daily classes each at around 2 hrs, and what is key is the small class size and quality of teaching. Our teacher Gonzales - aka My Surf - was not only fastidious with the details before you got in the water, but also super attentive when you were attempting to ride the waves. I found out that I was trying to pop up too quickly and needed to take it slowly in 3 steps. Gonzales's tips worked and I was up by the end of the first lesson. Result !
Choosing boards and checking the surf
Fancy a bite to eat?
The lodge has a beautiful restaurant on the ground floor. Its floor-to-ceiling windows and open fires mean it can be either super cozy or gorgeously light filled during the day. The menu is organic and seasonal with great fish of the day, but I opted for 40 hr braised rump steak...well, I had just ridden the waves all afternoon! If you do ever fancy opting for a local restaurant, we ate at Nau dos Corvos - a cliff-top restaurant in a superb location and just a short drive from the lodge. Serving traditional high-end Portgueous food, the fish stew is incredible.
On days when the swell is too high, there are plenty of other activities you can do from the lodge. Borrow bikes and cycle around the coast - it’s a Unseco world heritage site so there some seriously beautiful views going on - paddle boarding is also an option if you want a more chilled water based activity, and if you want to leave water completely to one side I would highly recommend the wine tasting as a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. The sommelier for the restaurant at the Lodge Virgilio Loureiro, took us on a journey of the country through tasting a beautiful array of native and organic wines.
But hold on i think i might have the surf bug...
After my first day success I was keen to head back to the water, although this time I was being filmed! Unlike other surf schools, SLP, really invest in the teaching, and to help you progress they film you when you out in your morning session and then you watch it back in the cosy cinema room downstairs at the lodge.
The cinema room at the Lodge and Gonzales checking the surf
Anything else to look out for?
We visited Billy, a local surfer and hit with the ladies, whose workshop is around the corner from the lodge. Billy shapes boards to order. So if you get really hooked you can get your own personal board made, it takes about two weeks though and you have to be around to collect it…shame !!
Also SLP have a New Year’s party the restaurant have a special menu and is followed by live DJ – surely there aren’t many ways better to clear the head on New Year’s Day than an early morning surf !
Last surf before the plane home
New Year’s party at SLP for €80 with special menu followed by live DJ.