Where the Biggest Waves in the World Roam

You may think that I am taking you to a very exotic location for this post, like Hawaii or Australia, but we actually stay in Europe. Introducing Nazaré in Portugal, home to the biggest waves in the world. As a teenager, I used to bodysurf – I know, hard to believe when you see me nowadays – and I can still be amazed by the skills and courage of surfers trying to tackle huge waves.

Nazaré

Located in the province of Estremadura, Nazaré has 3 neighborhoods: Praia (beach), Sitio (old village, located on a cliff) and Pederneira (another old village, located on top of a hill). From a fishing village, it has developed into a very popular resort; tourists come here for the beaches in summer and the (in)famous waves in winter.

As the name suggests, Nazaré is indeed linked to Nazareth through a local legend. In the 4th century, a monk brought a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to Spain. 7 centuries later, another monk and a Portuguese king transferred the same statue to Nazaré. Nowadays, you can admire it in the baroque Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, located in Sitio.

Nazaré Canyon

The presence of the huge waves is due to the underwater Nazaré Canyon, which is about 5 kilometers deep and 230 kilometers long.

The next video explains where these high waves exactly come from.

As I have said before, the highest waves usually occur during the winter season.

The Waves

The waves can become between 20 and 30 meters high (60 and 90 feet). Have a look at the next videos.

Our Visit in Summer

In summer there are no such high waves, but you can still enjoy some really impressive views. When Lars and I arrived in Nazaré, we followed the signs towards Sitio and afterward to Farol (lighthouse). In winter, most people gather at this lighthouse to have a good look at the waves.

This is the magnificent south beach, home of sunbathers and swimmers.

The last picture features the Praia de Norte, where those magnificent waves occur.

It is our dream to return to Nazaré in winter. I am not sure if we are going to make it this year, but we’ll see. I would love to see these huge waves for myself (of course) and photograph them, visit the church where they keep the legendary statue of the Virgin Mary and have a closer look at the 3 neighborhoods.

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