Populo is one of the most famous surf spots on São Miguel. You can park your car at the beach, walk 20 meters and get wet. Santa Iria is a bit different and it’s one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
To get to the goods, you have to walk around 45 minutes and carry everything you might need: board, booties, everything else and most important: water. It’s not easy to find, but the walk down to the cobblestone shoreline where you get the first glimpse of what the swell looks like from close is fairly easy. The cobblestones are a mean thing as some of them tip over, making you do the same. And you have to get the timing right: if it’s high tide you’ll get wet feet, making it a no-go during big swells. That’s why Santa Iria is almost never crowded, it just doesn’t seem that too much surfers are into hiking.
It was the last week at the gravityking surfhouse in Capelas. The month passed in no time and we would like to thank our guests who spent an awesome time with us. Hope to see you soon to share a couple of waves. Because sharing is caring.
Another week on the island, second time Sete Cicades and the Hotel Monte Palace. We just can’t get enough of this place and so do our guests. We also had some nices waves, although “flat to knee high” wasn’t exactly an accurate forecast. Some of us (meaning me) sucked on the board anyway. But bad surfing makes for good wipeouts.
The Azores have lots of nicknames. The “Hawai’i of Europe” is one of them. But the Archipelago is also referred to as the “Europe’s Weather Kitchen”. Sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, they get almost any storm that travels from west to east.
Where weather is made.
The interplay between the high pressure Area more or less around the Azores (The Azores High) and the Icelandic low pressure area plays a large role in defining the direction of the path storms take over the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes for example tend to hit the Gulf of Mexico if the Azores High stays further to the south while they travel up the US west coast when it’s further north. The interaction between the two areas also defines where low pressure systems and therefore storms make landfall in Europe. The whole system is pretty complicated in fact, and Wikipedia is a good place to start if you have a deeper interest.
How it affects the islands and the surf.
Long story short, there is almost always something going on in the atmosphere during springtime. It’s what makes the difference: the mix between clouds and sun rays makes for intense colors. This applies especially for green and blue, so from water to vegetation, it’s pure eye candy. The often strong winds make it hard to find good surf sometimes as it’s often blown out. But if you’re not terrified by surfing in 50km/h offshore winds, you will almost always find a spot that’s working.
The first week on São Miguel was about getting into surfing mode and further explore the island. We expected pretty bad surf due to strong northeasterly winds, but were positively surprised as we surfed throughout the week. After hitting the beach break called “Populo” in Ponta Delgada we took our time to show our guest places and treat ourselves with good food.
Highly anticipated, been working on it for month and now we’re finally here. Last Wednesday we arrived on São Miguel island. The first days were meant to check out the island, see if everything is still in place and score a surf every now and then. Yesterday we moved into the house that will be our home for a month and we already love it!
While winter staged a comeback for the Easter holiday, we already quit and stored our snowboard gear in the cellar. For us, the end of the winter season has come. Somehow it was hard to miss two seemingly good powder days. But then, on the other hand, I was pretty ok with it as the rewards are quite nice. Two days left until we fly into another surf adventure. The Azores, São Miguel in particular, await us.
Are you keen for some surf holidays? As soon as possible? We still have spots in our Azores surf house from April 22 until May 6.
Never heard about the Azores? That’s a small archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Most people know the islands because of the “Azores High”, a high pressure system that develops over the islands each summer. Spring, though, is surf season, and our surf villa is slowly filling up. So better be fast before the spaces are sold out ;-).
The gravityking popup-Surfcamp in Capelas, São Miguel.
From mid April to mid May, we have rented a beautiful house in Capelas, on the north coast of the main island São Miguel. Three rooms with a total of six beds are on offer, breakfast and a spacious garden with ocean view included. It’s not a normal surf camp and we don’t have guiding and lessons*. It’s more like going on a surf trip with your friends.
What we have is some local know-how, on our last trip two years ago we scanned the island for surf breaks, hot springs and the best places for spotting whales and sunsets.
We are looking forward to surfing the Azores with you this spring.
* of course we can help you getting lessons, rental cards etc., just let us know.
I’ve been dreaming of it for quite a while and yet it never happened: surfing and snowboarding the same day.
Last week we came pretty close. A nice swell was lighting up the west coast the day we arrived and the snow from the incredible performance Mr. Winter showed in January. We already managed to do both within 24 hours and keep on hunting the “all in one day” thing.
Surfing around Parga
Parga is a small town near the ferry port of Igoumenitsa, where we arrived from Italy. Hidden behind a big rock with an old castle on top, one of Mediterranean’s gems lies waiting for you: Kastro. A nice lefthand pointbreak on the corner of a beautiful beach. To a traveling surfer, it might be surprisingly good, but the locals know that this is one of the best waves in the Mediterranean. As soon as the conditions line up. Talking about conditions: it’s pretty hard to know which wave will work at what conditions and when these conditions will line up. But the locals are incredibly nice and will help you out if you treat them with respect. They even told me where I can find better waves when Kastro went smaller the second day.
Lygia is a 30 minute drive south of Parga and offers long stretches of open and exposed beach breaks. As expected I met the local crowd again in the lineup and let me tell you: the waves were firing. Personally, I wasn’t making a good impression, so I got lots of whitewater on my head because – and that’s be the biggest difference to beachbreaks around bigger oceans – there’s a wave coming every 6 seconds. Not that much time to breathe between one duckdive and another. But you will definitely improve your paddling and duckdiving skills!
16 hours later: snowboarding .
About 6 hours south of Lygija on the Peleponesos peninsula we found one of Greece’s most famous ski resort in Kalavryta, also known as Helmos. 20cm of fresh fallen the day before we arrived compensated for the bad visibility and the gusty winds. The ski resort is on the highest mountain around so it’s very exposed to whichever weather Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds, throws at it. As most of the Greek resorts it’s rather small in Swiss measures (two chairs and one t-bar) but it’s big enough to have fun for a couple of days. Towards the end of the week, conditions got better and better and allowed for incredible sunset-sessions around the peaks. Check back next week’s “Every Monday Morning” for some eye candy!
I used to go to Greece for summer holidays when I was a little boy. Never could I imagine I will come back to this beautiful country by campervan, with snowboards and surfboards loaded. Greece has it all and as it seems, we’ll be welcomed by a nice swell by the time you watch that video. During the next weeks we will introduce you to a country often overlooked in terms of boardsports. It’s time to change that.
Here’s our first video of the trip, stay tuned for more!