Praia do Norte, Nazaré
This was a stop we made on our drive from the Delfim Douro Hotel to Lisbon. We had read about the giant waves that take place here and since we wanted to breakup the drive, we decided to stop here and explore.
As shown in the Google Map image above, we had been in the Douro River Valley and so we drove down the IP3 (this is a toll road - so you will need to have your toll transponder in your vehicle) and then IC1 through the Casal do Areal. Although we had a hard copy Portugal map, we used Google Maps the entire way and had no problems.
You will need to follow the signs pointing in the direction of the Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo. There is a parking lot right before you reach the Praia do Norte beach.
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After departing the Delfim Douro Hotel, we drove to the Atlantic Ocean coast (273 kilometers from the Delfim Douro Hotel but still north of Lisbon), and we stopped at the beach just north of Nazaré at the Praia do Norte, Nazaré. This is where the largest waves ever surfed took place, if you doubt this fact, please take a look at this video to see for yourself. There is an HBO Documentary named "100 Foot Wave" that documents the first American surfer to surf the big waves here.
Video is the property of Monster Experience via YouTube.
If you watch that video, you can see the building that stands on the cliff (Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo) in our image and that gives you a much better idea of just how high that wave was! The Fort is approximately 50 meters above sea level.
The large waves here form due to the presence of the underwater Nazaré Canyon. As the canyon creates
constructive interference between the incoming swell waves, it makes their heights much larger
on this stretch of coast than elsewhere. The canyon is the largest submarine canyon in Europe, reaching depths of about
5,000 metres (16,000 ft) deep and a length of about 230 kilometres.
Click here to read the Wikipedia Article about the canyon and how it produces Guiness Book of Records wave heights.
In image # 2, that cliff where the Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo is located, is named "Promontório do Sítio" and it is 110 meters above the beach. The lighthouse of Nazaré stands on top of the Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo. The fort is open all year round from 10 AM to 5:30 PM and for a small entrance fee of € 2, you can visit inside to view the Big wave tour of Nazaré.
Praia do Norte Surf
Even on a calm day, you can see in these images how strong the surf here is here. We saw a number of 8 to 10 foot waves come ashore.
NOTE: Click here (or click the image to the left) to watch our video from the beach that day and you can hear how loud the surf noise was. Don't forget to turn up your speaker volume! We could only imagine how loud the 100 foot waves must be in the winter big surf season!
Video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC via YouTube.
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The village of Nazaré is on the other side of the cliff from where we were at Praia do Norte. As you can see in image # 1, it resides next to a pretty beach and a very nice marina. This is a very popular beach area and the beach will be filled with visitors when the weather is sunny.
The inlet in the distance is the entrance to the Nazaré Marina (in image # 1), to view this area on a Google Map click here. This map will provide you with an overhead view of the entire area, where you can more easily see where we were north of Nazaré at the Praia do Norte.
Because we had to meet our VRBO apartment rental agent at a specific time, we departed on the Portugal A8 freeway and drove to Belém (130 kilometers). Traffic was light until we arrived in the Lisbon area, and then it got quickly crowded.
NOTE: The first image above (left side) is the property of 'Mister No' via Wikimedia Commons using the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. All other images are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.
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