From The Madeira Island Web Site
Surfing safely in Madeira
By Jorge Barbosa
Jun 5, 2008 - 5:12:09 PM
In the surfing community waves of up to one and a half metres are usually the more common and easy waves to tackle. Those waves that start to rise over the two metre level demands a more skilful surfer and puts to test all the experience a good surfer has amassed in his/her aquatic career. For waves larger than three metres (some waves even reach eight metres in height in and around the sea front off Jardim do Mar) the excitement is immeasurable! But beware! Surfing those big ones and their constant "tubes" require a lot of skill, and perfect sea conditions, to get by without any mishap. The waves break very close to shore line, and the rocky bed! The surfing, especially around Jardim do Mar, demands from the surfer all his expertise and acrobatic skills to maintain what would look like zero gravity floating to avoid the potentially injurious seaside.
Ponta Pequena is another great swell. Similar to Jardim do Mar. But with only one problem. Its accessibility. Only die hard and real surf enthusiasts will venture through the rocky precipices that wind down to the small beach - situated five hundred metres or so west of Jardim do Mar. Tread lightly, and gear lightly. Only take what is absolutely essential - the walking/climbing trip could take up to 40 minutes before your feet soak wet. That is, if you have not managed to knock yourself unconscious after falling through a mini rock avalanche! A real penalty for the not so careful.
As dangerous Ponta Pequena is to descend is the challenge at the third surfing spot of renown on the south of the island, Paul do Mar. It is the sea instead of dangerous cliffs that becomes horribly dangerous and over challenging for the inexperienced. Situated less than 500 metres as the crow flies from the Ponta Pequena beach it can take an hours car drive through rugged mountain coast to arrive on the enticing shore. It is on the waters next to this village that the surfer will encounter the most of the tubular or tunnel waves in Madeira. But also the waves with the most threateningly dangerous reputation of throwing Homo Sapiens live to the expecting, waiting and patient nearby rocks or sea boulders just off the seashore. "Surfing here is the ultimate adrenaline high" announces the one brave surfer we encountered - a couple of body bruises testimony to his successful escape from the grips of Neptune's sleepy but sometimes unforgiving basalt guards....
Although the competitions take place on the south coast the surfing enthusiast will find as good if not sometimes better waves on the north side of the island. Albeit less life threatening. The shores off the Madona and Bruxas beaches are the best. They form part of the littoral that stretches between the village of São Vicente and the most northern westerly village of Porto Moniz. Probably the most popular surfing spot has become precisely the Feijã da Areia in São Vicente. Another favourite on the north is the less than developed surfing spot of Ponta Delgada - further east of São Vicente. These locations are normally the choice of spots for experienced surfers. The strong sea currents and the ebb and flow of strong gushes of sea water against the contorted and walled north coast makes for complicated and challenging surfing as waves easily change direction and flow quickly. The shores on the North of the island are also the most beautiful to watch the surfing from (if that be your pleasure).
But as for the surfer the scenery is somewhat incredible. High sea cliffs uncommonly tumble into small landfills on the basalt shoreline along several points on the north coast. The horizon is intertwined by complex wave movements and green flora from off the mountains. The verdejante colurs swell into the blue, and the wave foam white complements the sky clouds and white naked ambition of the energised surfer. If it be your pleasure to suck nature and life from its shell then take that surf board and track that big rider now. Or else bring your flash digital video camera and start wishing you could surf like the big boys - one day....
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