A giant wave surfed at Praia do Norte by Garrett McNamara, in 2011, made Nazaré one of the most visited places in Portugal. With more than 30 meters high, the wave made the fishing town even more touristy.

Nazaré and the Giant Waves

Nazaré village

Nazaré is much sought after by surfers, photographers, and tourists from all over the world.

Whether for the famous Praia do Norte and the giant waves or for the beautiful fishing area and the ladies in the seven skirts. The city has many traditions that have existed for many years in Nazaré. In summer, the beach is full of tourists who go on holiday to Praia da Vila – the main beach in Nazaré.

Nazaré and the Giant Waves - Nazaré village

As for Praia do Norte, it is more frequented by surfers throughout the year.

How are the giant waves of Nazaré formed?

The giant Nazaré Canyon is the generator of giant waves and is one of the best places in the world to observe them from just a few meters away.

The Nazaré Canyon is an underwater cannon, off the coast of Nazaré, in the Western Atlantic Ocean. It has a depth of at least 5,000 meters and a length of 230 km.

Usually, the Nazaré Canyon greatly amplifies the size of the waves, being able to generate waves of up to 30 meters in height.

Nazaré and the Giant Waves - traditional boats

When to go see the giant waves of Nazaré?

Usually, the biggest wave season is between October and March (in winter) and this is the best time to visit if this is your objective of the visit.

If you can, stay at least 2 weeks around the region to ensure you catch the biggest waves, as conditions change from day to day. There’s no insurance you’ll get a good day, but the odds are higher this wat. Forecasts only anticipate a week at most and you can check it here.

The website nazarewaves.com notifies you when there are good forecasts of big waves in Nazaré, so follow it often.

Nazaré and the Giant Waves - the beach

The region has loads of stuff to see. The best beaches on the west coast, visiting Óbidos, discovering the best restaurants in Leiria, and visiting the Castel.

Where to observe the giant waves of Nazaré?


The giant waves occur at Praia do Norte-Nazaré. The best place to see it is at the Nazaré site next to the lighthouse (Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo), on the north side.

You can also go down to the beach to get another perspective but be careful with the sea, it’s quite dangerous.

When is the WSL Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge?

The next date for the WSL Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge event is between November 15, 2021, and March 31, 2022. This is the big wave event that brings the biggest big riders in the world to Praia do Norte.

This competition does not have a fixed date, normally the day of the event is confirmed 48 hours in advance. The date on which good conditions for the race are expected will be set.

This competition itself lasts only one day.

Learn more about it here!

What did Garrett McNamara do to make Nazaré’s waves famous?

On November 1, 2011, Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara achieved the unthinkable: surfing a 23.77-meter wave at Praia do Norte, in Nazaré! That year, he broke the Guinness World Record and this iconic photograph by photographer António Manuel Silva traveled all over the world.

Nazaré and the Giant Waves - António Manuel Silva, the photographer who captured "the magic moment" when Garrett McNamara surfed a giant wave, in a photo that went viral on the internet.
António Manuel Silva, the photographer who captured “the magic moment” when Garrett McNamara surfed a giant wave, in a photo that went viral on the internet.

What to visit in Nazaré?

Where to sleep in Nazaré?

Casa do Mar (Studio) – 50€/night

Holidays Vista Mar (3 bedroom apartment) – 80€

Hotel Praia (Double room) – 70€

Nazaré and the Giant Waves


Take the opportunity to take a look at our suggestions, whether for a weekend getaway or for a delightful and relaxing week of vacation:

Go, try it, and then tell us how it went!!!


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