I’ve returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak. A year ago I had my first surf lesson in Peniche, on the beach of Baleal, and spent a night at Surfers Lodge Peniche. I can’t remember much, as we didn’t arrive until 11pm and headed out to surf straight after breakfast at 9am. But I knew this place was special and that I’d have to come back. Sadly, I had to bide my time. A year later I managed to take four days off and flew down to Portugal to revisit the Surfers Lodge Peniche. And I fell in love with this place all over again and I already know I’ll be back. Why? Because it’s a paradise for surfers.
First I guess I should outline why I love surfing so much, and why everyone should give it a go.
1. You forget everything around you: As soon as I’m in the water with my board I can’t think of anything apart from the next wave and the ocean. This is so not like me, and I was surprised to experience first hand what this sport was doing to my thoughts. Simply switching them off.
2. In touch with nature: I love nature and I remember always being happiest as a child when I was near the water. Swimming was never exercise or hard work, but fun. The best thing about surfing? It only works if you cooperate with nature.
3. Now or never: Surfing is teaching me to be decisive. I’m the kind of person who considers the pros and cons of everything before making a decision. But with surfing you have to decide instantly. Which wave, when to start paddling, and most importantly when to stand up. And that’s my biggest problem. Making a decision and sticking to it, rather than waiting for the next big wave …
4. My own limits: No other sport shows me limits quite as harshly as surfing. I can be incredibly ambitious and stubborn, but if I keep surfing despite my exhaustion then a wave will grab me, shake me up and let me know it’s time to stop.
Right, onto the 7 reasons why the Surfers Lodge Peniche is perfect for surfers.
1. BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
The beaches are one of the reasons you should keep reading, even if you’re not into surfing. Peniche and its surroundings are characterised by gorgeous beaches and cliffs. Most tourists come here to enjoy the landscape, ocean breeze and the sea. Baleal, located
between Paia do Baleal (Norte) and Paia do Baleal (Sut), is home to a stunning peninsula, which used to be an island. If you walk all the way to the end, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view over the cliffs. Hear the waves crash against the rocks. Incredible.
I have a secret I want to let you in on. I attended a barbecue here a year ago, on the beach, and it was stunning. But even without a pre-organised event it’s well worth the walk from the Surfers Lodge Peniche towards Praia da Almagreira. The path will lead you past even more cliffs, and if you’re lucky the weather will play along – either blue skies and sunshine, or mystical fog.
2. THE BEST SURF LESSONS AND PERFECT SURFERS
Some of my friends went on a surfing trip and they complained that they’d had very little face-to-face time with the teacher as there were 20 people in their two-hour group lesson. At the Surfers Lodge Peniche the maximum group size is six. I visited off-season, so there were only four of us in my group, which was perfect. Especially in the beginning it’s important to have help – a friendly nudge can make all the difference when trying to catch a wave!
Our group was diverse, ranging from a complete beginner to someone who’d surfed a long time ago and wanted some supervision to get back into the swing of things. No problem for our teacher Goncalo, who quickly assessed each participant’s level of skills and provided valuable feedback. It was so much fun – what a steep learning curve, I made progress every day. Goncalo knew which beaches to take us to for the best waves, making it easier for us to catch them. That’s what makes Peniche so special. It’s surrounded by beaches, which means there’s a perfect wave for everyone, regardless of your level! Some waves even take two months of preparations! John, the owner of the Surf Lodge, usually lounges about on a sofa in the lobby, looking for someone to chat to. He told me he’s working with a personal trainer three times a week to be able to surf a huge wave he plans on catching in late August. Crazy. But it’s wonderful to see how passionate surfers are!
3. BEST RESTAURANT IN PENICHE
The Surfers Lodge Peniche isn’t just a hotel and just a surfing school, it’s also a restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s open to the public and the food is delicious – and I’m not only saying that because I was so hungry after my day surfing. Upon request they even managed to whip up a vegan option for me!
4. BREATHTAKING SUNSETS
I love sunsets, no matter where I am. But to be honest seaside sunsets are the best. Seeing that red ball of light sink into the ocean, amazing. The best sunset watching spot is just a few minutes’ walk away from the Surfers Lodge Peniche.
Grab a bottle of wine, two glasses and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. If you’re lucky there might even be a sunset party on the roof terrace of the Surfers Lodge. Good music and great drinks overlooking the roofs of Peniche, with the sun setting in the background. This is what being on holiday is all about. The rooftop party is also open to the public and it’s very popular. No wonder!
5. IT’S NOT A HOTEL, IT’S HOME
„A home, not a hotel”, this is the Surfers Lodge Peniche’s slogan, and it couldn’t be more accurate! On my first visit I was so enamored by this place that I didn’t want to leave. Same thing the second time around. The rooms are lovingly decorated and if I could I’d happily take half of the decorations home with me. Always a good sign. I wish I could live like this, surrounded by tiny details and wooden fish on my walls. Here are some of my favourites:
I wish my bedroom had a wooden wall like this
Candles in pebbles and retro chairs
Small details everywhere
The colourful bar and reception area – more wood!
The atmosphere is really homey. Most guests are barefoot, there are loads of sofas and armchairs scattered around the place, and there’s a fireplace with candles in the middle of the lodge.
6. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
The more I travel the more I think about ways to minimise my impact on planet Earth. My concern for the environment has motivated me to lead a vegan life.
The Surfers Lodge Peniche is a certified Eco Hotel, which means it uses at least 25% fewer water and electricity than average, generates its own power, and produces 25% less waste than a non-certified hotel. At mealtime water is served in glass jugs and all other drinks come in glass bottles. Here’s a brief official summary:
Eco-hotel certification is a custom-tailored product designed to meet the individual needs of the hotel and tourism industry. It is based on international standards, such as ISO 14001, Occupational Health & Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility, and follows the concept of the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce and Recycle). This service also examines ways of reducing costs and gaining market leverage.
7. CAREFREE PACKAGE
The Surfers Lodge Peniche is a paradise for surfers and non-surfers alike. Beautiful rooms, great food, stunning natural surroundings, and more. You can hire skateboards and bicycles free of charge, there’s a massage service, yoga lessons and did I mention the rooftop pool? Tennis, golf, stand up paddle boarding, diving…. it’s all possible. It’s such a great place and if I could I would move here, in a heartbeat.
I spent the week in Portugal with my boyfriend, and we ended up asking ourselves “Why do we live in Berlin?”. Obviously he lives there for work and I somehow live in Germany too, because of him. But if we had no ties to Berlin, why not move to Portugal? Well, if this ever happens I’ll set up a small bed and breakfast and you’re all invited. Until then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Surfers Lodge Peniche.
More pictures. I couldn’t help it, everything looks perfect:
Beach wedding – me and my board
What a feeling – standing on the top of the cliffs feeling the wind.
I wish I could spend an entire summer by the sea.
The Surfers Lodge Peniche’s pool
My favourite hobby
Many thanks to the Surfers Lodge for the support.
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