‘Baleal is a special place. You gonna definitely come back, everybody does’, such things I kept hearing from locals, when I arrived here for the first time to stay in a surfcamp. ‘Pfff’, I thought, there is nothing so particular about it…Well here I am, in Baleal, for the seventh time already. It has become my second home. So let me tell you the secret, why nobody returns from Baleal :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, Baleal is a tiny peninsula, which used to be actually a separated island many years ago. Than according to some local people the land emerged due to some natural processes and it got connected to the mainland, or as some other people affirm, it was deliberately backfilled, in the middle of the twentieth century, and now we can enjoy the nice white sand beaches and amazing surf (by the way, I would really appreciate if somebody tells me the true story).
Surf is the secret attracting thousands of people to this, once little and unknown fisherman village. Due to its geographical position, Baleal and its surrounding areas always have at least one working spot almost at any weather conditions.
Surf is the main income source and the main headache for locals. As even ten years ago they felt cool and happy surfing on almost always empty line-ups and now they have to put up with crowds of kooks like me. However, thanks to us, I mean the kooks coming here to surf, Baleal has been developing at a crazy speed, and is very different from the rest of Portugal.
This is actually what I love most about this place. Although tiny, it is very cosmopolitan. Staff in bars and restaurants speak English better than you speak Portuguese, you can meet young people from all over the world and eat something different from bacalhau and leitão. You do feel young and cool vibes here.
Although let me correct myself, you do feel young and cool vibes here, when the season is on. Which now is from early April till early November. As Baleal in summer and Baleal in winter are two different places.
In winter, especially in January and February, the place looks like a ghost town in a way, even locals leave it. There are like two bars that remain open, no people on the beaches and only some crazy ones on line-ups. The weather is not always welcoming with cold humid wind freezing you to the bones. Finding a warm and dry place becomes quite a challenge. However, in this period you really feel like it is only you and the Ocean, huge, endless and powerful. Besides, in winter you have the chance to see the biggest waves surfed by people in Nazare which is only forty minutes drive away from Baleal.
This is crazy how the place changes with the first warm days. Its population triples, bars and restaurants reopen and put tables out in the sun, the air smells grass, flowers and salty water; sunset happy hours attract chattering crowds of young surfers, you feel like spending time on the beach and going into the water.
Honestly, I cannot decide which of the two I like most.
To wind up my story, I will just let you enjoy the splendid views we are lucky to observe here every day. I think this is the main secret making people addicted to Baleal, well at least for me. It is not only about surfing, but about the ocean itself. Here you can see it and hear it, and even in high season you can find a place on the cliffs, where you will be all alone, one on one with the infinite ocean.
Sending you good vibes from Baleal,