Portugal and the sea have a history. During much of the 14th and 15th Centuries it was the world’s hub for discovery and exploration. Sailors ventured forth into the unknown, leaving the sheltered Mediterranean Sea as they headed into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. The point where these two great bodies of water collide is now named Cape St. Vincent, it was then simply referred to as the “End of the World”.
Just an hour north of this ominous sounding point lies Praia de Odeceixe and one of Portugal’s premier surf breaks. Located inside Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina the beach is about 5 miles off of Highway N120. You pass through the village and meander along a road winding in concert with a small river. At you near the sea you proceed uphill past beautiful white washed homes with red tile roofs perched atop of the bluff looking down on the ocean. The beach is really an inlet, resting between rocky cliffs on the north and more gentle bluffs to the south.
We arrived late in the day and were told that the only surf shop around where we could rent a board was about to close. I rushed over and attempted to communicate my desire to the female attendant that seemed more interested in getting on with her night than accommodating me. At last the owner came by and through somewhat broken English asked me where I was from. After hearing California, he laughed and said, “Oh, you must be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Give him a board”. I picked out a longboard that wasn’t too beat up, donned a wetsuit and said “I will be back”. Unfortunately, I think my joke was lost on him.