Nazaré Lighthouse atop Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo, Nazaré, Portugal
© Richard A Lock/Getty Image
How do you say 'gnarly' in Nazaré?. Nazaré Lighthouse
Instead of Surfin' USA, today we're Surfin' Portugal—though if you shout a reverential 'cowabunga' at these colossal waves, we're sure the locals will get your meaning.
The iconic surf beaches of the world sit predominantly on the Pacific, but we're in the dead of shredding season on the Atlantic. The surf begins to swell here in Nazaré, Portugal, in September or October and lasts till March. Word's gotten out about Nazaré’s big wave season, and it beckons surfers from around the world, who don their thickest wetsuits to brave gargantuan breaks.
Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa caught an 80-footer here in 2017, beating the previous Guinness World Record for surf wave height—also set here. Meanwhile, those less daredevilish among us are content to join this crowd standing in awe from the safety of Nazaré's Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo, a lighthouse-topped fortress on a shoreside cliff.