Coxos: How To Surf Portugal’s Best Wave

"Oh yeah, don’t forget your balls, coz when it’s on the wave can be pretty heavy..."


Coxos — Portuguese for razor sharp rocks, heaving barrels, and the best wave on the whole darn coast. Here’s local Ricardo Bravo with the particulars . . .

Where is it?

Ericeira, Portugal.

What is it?

Coxos is a right-hand point break. Long, fast and furious, the wave is no kindergarten: heavy sections can turn the barrel of your life into a nasty beating. Lots of water running along the rocks make the getting in/out of the water a game of patience and know-how. Breaks at almost any size and it can reach the 10ft mark, although the best days happen at sizes between 5 and 8ft.

What wind works best?

East is straight offshore, but it’s also good with light SE or NE

Water Temperature?

12ºC (January) – 18ºC (October).

Best season to go?

Autumn/Winter are the best, especially autumn when you can score glassy days and warm water. Winter early morning sessions can be chilly, but the sun will warm up the place around mid morning.

Fit for a king. Kelly Slater fingers the jewel in the Portuguese crown. Photos: Timo

What surfboards to bring?

6’0 to 6’8. Don’t really want a bigger surfboard than that because the wave can be really fast and hollow, especially in west swells.

Who’s in the line-up?

Tiago Pires, Ruben Gonzalez, José Gregório, Paulo do Bairro, Tiago Oliveira and Miguel Fortes, are always at Coxos on the best days and scoring the deepest barrels. Sérgio Rocha, Nick Uricchio, Kika, Paulinho, Zé Pyrrait and assorted others complete a crew of dedicated Coxos aficionados.

Swell window?

Not too big, not too small, the wave awakens even on a small west swell, although best conditions happen with decent sized north to northwest swells.

Where to stay?

You can choose between the camping site (close to some of the best spots), small hotels in the old part of Ericeira, a nice and pricey hotel just in front of the sea (Vila Galé) or moderately priced apartments (Beachtour). Big price variation between high and low season.

Nearest airport?

Portela, Lisboa. Main international airport in Portugal. 50km, 40 minute drive to Ericeira.


In the summer there’s some partying going on – or perhaps if there’s a contest going on nearby — but for the rest of the year it’s worth the 30 minute drive to Lisbon to check out the nightlife.

Interesting facts?

Ericeira (the nearby town and Portuguese surfing capital) derives from Ouriceira, which itself derives from the Portuguese name for a sea urchin. Tread carefully. No competitions are allowed at this spot, as most of the local crew believes competitions should be held at Ribeira de Ilhas, keeping Coxos quiet, clean, and protected from the frenetic competition circus.

Words by Ricardo Bravo

Miguel Fortes’ Golden Rules for surfing Coxos

  1. First off, come by yourself or with a friend, max. More than that you’re gonna have hard time with the locals, like in any spot. Avoid weekends as it’s the most crowded, Coxos being only an hour from Lisbon.
  2. Don’t paddle straight to the peak. Sit wide and inside and watch for a while. If you respect these first two rules you’re more than welcome to come surf Coxos.
  3. Before you jump in the water watch for a while where the locals jump in because it’s very tricky to get in and out, depending a lot on the tide and swell direction. It’s full of urchins and sharp rocks, there’s no sand at Coxos so if you’re not comfortable with rocks, bring booties.
  4. The water is cold all year long so bring a 4/3 wetsuit, and a few boards because you can break a board any session out there. Oh yeah, don’t forget your balls, coz when it’s on the wave can be pretty heavy, Hawaiian style.


That’s the logistics taken care of. But how to negotiate the vertical take-off? Head this way for Surf Tips galore.


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