Here’s why surf’s not the only thing that’s up in Portugal
For most of us, stripping down to our swimwear and charging into the sea with a surfboard tucked under our arm would be an example of leaving our comfort zone. Not Ridge Lenny. This influencer and avid surfer feels more at home in the ocean than just about anywhere else.
And when it comes to surfing spots, Ridge would be the first to admit that Portugal is pretty unrivalled. Our mission was to convince Ridge (and surfers everywhere) that Portugal is good for so much more than surfing. Head inland and you’ll find some true fairytale cities – chock-full of art, architecture, absolutely scrumptious cuisine and so much more.
To prove it, we sent Ridge on our ‘Portugal City & Surf’ trip. Looking for waves of adventure, waves of emotion… plus some actual waves.
Hi Ridge, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
“I am a professional big wave surfer and content creator from the island of Maui. While surfing was always my passion growing up, it wasn’t till I graduated college that I began surfing big waves and taking it more seriously as a profession. Through content creation I really enjoy sharing my experiences in the ocean with the world.”
How long have you been surfing for? How many times have you been to Portugal?
“I’ve been surfing for about 22 years. My parents were pushing me into my first waves at the ripe age of 3 years old. The first time I visited Portugal was in 2020 to surf the big wave spot, Nazare. Since then I’ve gone two more times, specifically to surf that spot.”
How would you rate the surf compared to other places in Europe?
“Portugal is by far the best overall surfing experience I’ve had thus far in my travels in Europe. The mix of sizeable, very consistent swell, lack of crowds, and variety of waves is simply unmatched – even in a worldwide context. It has definitely become one of my favourite places to travel to for surfing.”
What was it like to be challenged by Contiki to step away from the beach and explore more of it?
“It definitely took me out of my comfort zone. So far all my travel experiences have been solely based around chasing waves. While I have made sure to always try my best to experience the cultures of the places I visit, this was the first time I’ve ever gone on a trip that was for that very purpose and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.”
What was your favourite non-surf experience you did in Portugal with Contiki?
“My favourite experience in Portugal with Contiki was visiting Óbidos. The historic fortified town was an incredible sight to see with its surrounding walls, breathtaking medieval architecture, and a castle that looks straight out of a movie. That definitely will be a place I will never forget.”
What was it like to travel with a group of strangers rather than your surf crew?
“I really enjoyed traveling with a group of people I’ve never met before. Through each experience we were not only learning about the amazing places we were visiting, but also learning about each other and in the end becoming really good friends.”
Did you give anyone any tips when you went surfing?
“It was really awesome seeing a lot of the group member’s first time experiencing surfing. Seeing their excitement about the learning process really reminded me how special surfing is. They had a great group of instructors but I gave them some tips to fast track them through that initial learning process.”
What’s the best thing you ate?
“We ate some traditional Portuguese sausage links in a local underground tavern. While outside my comfort zone of what I usually eat, they were absolutely delicious.”
Did you prefer Lisbon or Porto?
“While I really enjoyed exploring both places, the beauty of Porto is next level. A historic city with incredible architecture on the banks of the Douro River is a sight that I won’t soon forget.”
Did Contiki convince you there’s more to Portugal than just the surf?
“While already being one of my favourite places in the world because of its incredible surf, through my experiences with Contiki my appreciation for Portugal and all it has to offer has grown so tenfold.”
Next time you visit, do you think you’ll extend your trip to spend some time away from the beach?
“Absolutely, I was taking notes the whole trip on where I’d love to take my family and friends next time we are chasing surf in the area.”