Nazare, where the big waves can happen, but maybe not on your schedule.

It is the big wave season and most of the top ten biggest waves surfed in the world have happened off the coast of Portugal in sight of the town of Nazare. There is a combination of topography, wind and ocean currents that create these big waves. It takes a big storm out at sea pushing the water toward a trench that funnels the water toward the beach where it pushes up and amplifies the “regular” wave action. Expert surfers from around the world come to surf these waves which require them to be towed out behind jet skis. There are not many days with the huge waves given the need for several factors to occur in just the right way to get the results. That said, none of those conditions were in place during the several days we were in Nazare. The water was calm, the winds mild and the town quiet. We enjoyed our stay and will try to be there for big waves on a future visit! One bartender did comment that lots of people come thinking the waves happen all of the time when in reality is a lot of waiting around for a few days with big waves.

Nazare is a fishing village, and the town sits on a long, wide sandy beach that curves behind a cliff to the north. On the other side of the cliff is another beach where the big waves roll. The end of the cliff is the prime viewing spot for the waves.
There is a nice path that allows you to climb to the top of the cliff, where the best views of the waves are. This is a view from about halfway up the trail.
Looking down on the beach and town from the top of the trail. Yes, it was a pretty steep hike, but there were lots of great views, so it was a pleasant walk up.
A view of the Praia do Norte – North Beach – from the fort, which is well situated for watching the action.
The coastline between the beaches has some rocky areas that must help make the crashing waves all that much more impressive.
The fort, in addition to being the prime viewing spot, also hosts exhibits, including a collection of these whimsical sculptures watching over the coastline.
Legend has it that back in the Middle Ages a local noble was out hunting deer and got separated from the rest of the hunt in some fog. As he realized he was approaching the cliff at great speed, he called out a prayer and was able to avoid going over the cliff. It was attributed to the saint he called upon, who became the local patron saint. Not sure why the sure-footed horse he was riding was not given more credit. This story also has stags being a local symbol, and a sculpture combining the stag and the surfing culture sits atop the cliff with an excellent view.
There is also a nice elevator – cable car – to get up and down the hill, so we took advantage of that for a repeat visit.
The station for the elevator has some lovely tiles. We were here during the holidays and there was also a very impressive holiday display.
In addition to the impressive holiday display, the floor of the elevator station is very nice. Portugal has so many things to love, the people, the food, the beautiful coastline, the tiles, the floors! I have so many photos of floors, ceilings and the paving tiles, they deserve their own post!
At the top is another lovely neighborhood and it boasts a fancy church.
An interior view of the church.
The local huntsman and his trusty steed are memorialized in here as well.
A close up of the fort and the cliff, which is rumored to be where the lost hunter avoided his plunge.
Some colorful fishing boats on display. Nazare has a long history as a fishing village and proudly displays these traditional boats as part of their “living museum.” Shortly after we left the town I saw a news report that a small boat with five local fishermen aboard and run in to trouble and only one survivor had been found after the first day.

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