The half-moon shaped beach of Nazaré is calling wanderlusts
Nazaré beach, with its mild climate and natural beauty, has one of the most ancient traditions connected to fishing in Portugal.
The long sandy half-moon shaped beach, which is also the town’s sea front, is known for its grandeur and for the brightly-coloured awnings that decorate the white sandy beaches, contrasting with the blue of the water.
A typical fishing town, Nazaré is nowadays a busy summer resort, where side by side with the crowds of tourists, one still sees all over the streets of the town the fish-sellers, and the carapaus (horse mackerel) laid out to dry. The Sítio district, at the town’s highest point (accessible by a funicular), is without doubt the best viewpoint in the area. But it is also associated with the cult of Our Lady of Nazaré who, according to the 12th century legend, was invoked by the alcaide (commander of a fortress or castle) Dom Fuas Roupinho who, while stalking a deer, was about to fall down into an abyss with no possible salvation. As a sign of gratitude for the mercy he received, Dom Fuas Roupinho ordered a small chapel to be built – the Ermida de Memória. A little way away, in the 18th century the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré was built, in whose honour grandiose festivals are held in September.
Facing the sea on the right, you will see an impressive headland. This is Sítio, which provides one of the most famous views of the Portuguese coast. It is a 318 metre rock face with a sheer drop to the sea, and is reached on foot by the bravest, or by going up the funicular. At the top sits the Ermida da Memória chapel, famous for the legend of the miracle that Our Lady made to prevent the horse of the nobleman, D. Fuas Roupinho, leaping over the precipice. True or not, the Suberco Belvedere shows the imprint left in the rock by one of the horse’s hooves that foggy morning in 1182. Sítio also houses the Shrine to Our Lady of Nazaré and not far away, the Dr. Joaquim Manso Museum for more details about the traditions of Nazaré.
If you have the time, walk from Sítio across Pedralva Park, to Pederneira, a natural viewpoint with an unmissable view over the Nazaré coast.
Nazaré’s major attractions are the waves and surfing, thanks to the “Nazaré Canyon”, a submarine geomorphological phenomenon that allows the formation of perfect giant waves. It is the largest underwater canyon in Europe, about 170 kilometres along the coast, reaching a depth of 5,000 metres.
The Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara received worldwide publicity when, in 2011, rode the biggest beach-breaking wave in the world, about 30 metres high, at Praia do Norte. He won the Billabong XXL Global BigWave Award and entered the Guinness Book of World Records. Like him, surfers from around the world visit Nazaré every year to venture into the sea. The beach also attracts sunbathers, who provide a great audience to appreciate the stunts of the young surfers.
Take the opportunity of a casual stroll through the narrow streets perpendicular to the beach to get to know Nazaré better. Take a break in one of the restaurants to enjoy a plate of fresh seafood, grilled fish or an appetising bouillabaisse. And in the evening, there’s nothing like enjoying the setting sun on any terrace overlooking the sea, while the lights come on and night falls.
The total flight duration from Portugal to India is 10 hours, 42 minutes and India is 5:30 hours ahead of Portugal.