There are two beaches in Nazaré, Portugal separated only by a promontory jutting into the Altantic Ocean. The two beaches, Praia da Nazaré and Praia do Norte, could not be more different. The two photos show just how different the two beaches are. Both photos were taken, on the same visit, from the road leading to the fortress located on the promontory.
The first photo shows Praia da Nazaré, the popular beach resort. The beach is wide with a gentle surf. Like most beach resorts, Nazaré’s beach is fronted by hotels, restaurants, shops of all kinds. It’s a fun little town, especially during the off season when the beach is empty. It’s beautiful, is it not?
Turn 180 degrees from where this photo was taken and you see Praia do Norte. This beach, one of the most famous surfing spots in the world, looks wild. There are no buildings lining North Beach; instead, the beach is dotted with rocks and caves and the trees grow right up to the beach.
There’s a reason the beach is missing the hotels and restaurants that populate the other beach. Waves up to one hundred feet high are common here, and man-made structures wouldn’t stand a chance against these giant walls of water. Local fishermen avoided the area because of the huge waves and several people have been swept to their deaths while walking on the beach.
That doesn’t stop the surfers, though. Each Winter, Praia do Norte is host to the Nazaré Challenge, a stop on the World Surf League’s Big Wave Tour. In 2011, Garrett McNamara set the world record by surfing a 78-foot wave and in 2017 Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa broke the record when he surfed an 80-foot wave.
Nazaré is a great little town and has plenty to offer visitors. My suggestion, though, is unless you like to live life on the edge of a surfboard, stick to Praia da Nazaré or watch the world class surfing from the fortress.