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Portugal Road Trip: Explore Algarve on a stand-up paddleboard

Are you looking for an exotic SUP destination in Europe but within a car or a van reach? Look no further and check out the Algarve coast! Golden orange cliffs, turquoise waters, caves, tunnels… and you, in the middle of it all on your paddleboard! This is what Aymeric Gossuin and his girlfriend Apolline Delmas experienced during a van road trip to Portugal, where they enjoyed sunny days exploring the Algarve coast on their inflatable paddleboards by Wattsup, a French watersport brand.¬†

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Aymeric Gossuin is a Co-Founder of  Gossuin Brothers, a media production company that he set up with his brother Antoine five years ago. They travel and work all over the world creating promotional content focused mainly on outdoor activities. Originally from the South of France, Aymeric has been a waterman since a very young age involved in all sorts of boardsports from surfing, kitesurfing, wing foiling, wakeboarding to paddleboarding.

Adventure lover and passionate about media, Aymeric returned from his SUP trip in Portugal with some incredible photos which he shared with us along with their Algarve’s SUP story.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Hello Aymeric, welcome to TotalSUP! A SUP trip in Portugal? That’s WATTSUP!¬†

My girlfriend Apolline and I set off for a month on a van road trip to discover Portugal and to shoot the new Saint Jacques Wetsuit collection, a French brand that develops stylish and high-quality wetsuits. It was supposed to be a surf trip but we also took with us two Wattsup paddleboards because it is the best way to explore a coastline when there is no wind or waves.

This Portuguese road trip was a crazy experience and it reminded me a little of Australia, a very large and vast country with a lot of nature. Apart from the main cities such as Porto and Lisbon it seems sparsely populated… I’m generalizing here a bit as we only did the coast and not too much inland.

Sagres, the tip in the South West is very nice to see with lots of nature and super wild coasts. It’s beautiful to experience it by van. The most exceptional sites are concentrated there, south of Sagres all the way to to Faro, where there are cliffs that you can explore on a paddleboard ideally. The surf is on the west coast with Nazar√© in the middle, one of the best known spots for big waves.

Aymeric and Apolline / Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

But there are also more accessible waves with a mix of interesting conditions to surf where you can do tricks and get barrels, without necessarily surfing 20m waves such as the Supertubes (Supertubos), when you head towards Lisbon and in many other spots.

We set off in the North West and we went around Portugal basically, from left to right. We went down to the Atlantic coast and then up to the Mediterranean to Hy√®res – I’m originally from Var in the Southeast of France.

After Faro where we explored the famous cliffs we did not have enough time and there were fewer spots to visit so we headed to Spain and travelled to France without stopping really. If you’d like to find out more, Apolline wrote a blog about it.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Which spots would you recommend for paddleboarding? 

The Algarve coast is an Eldorado for unforgettable paddle rides! We did 60 km of paddling in three days and in three different spots. Check the weather though as it can be dangerous and inaccessible if there is wind and swell! Even if you are in the South, it’s still the Atlantic Ocean!

Spot 1: Lagos

  • Launch from Miradouro Praia da Batata
  • Explore Praia dos Estudantes, Pinh√£o, Camilo, Ponta da Piedade to Praia do Canavial (one of the most secluded beaches in Lagos)¬†

Spot 2: Praia dos Três Irmãos

  • Launch from Praia de Alemao
  • Head west to Ponta Joao de Arens and to Praia dos Tr√™s Irm√£os
  • This is another absolutely beautiful location¬†
  • Think about the weather and the direction and strength of the wind when planning the trip and the return!

Spot 3: The Benagil Sea Cave

The Benagil Sea Cave is the most famous spot on the Algarve coast that can be found everywhere in photos and on social media. Go early, because from 9am on it’s full of people! Tourist boats, kayaks, paddleboards… you name it! Also avoid the low tide to make sure there’s water in the cave as it’s more beautiful then! The ideal time is to go between the tides – you can Google the tide tables.

Check out Algar Seco too! We went back on foot because the coastal path is truly exceptional with caves and amazing little paths! On the way towards Praia do Pontal there is an endless series of tunnels, caves and other unusual places.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Frankly, this area is a gem with some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen from a paddleboard. You have various passages, you have big caves, small caves… and it stretches as far as you can see – it’s non-stop! And with its golden-beige tones and orange-red rocks it’s truly exceptional. The photos speak for themselves.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Are there any other considerations when paddleboarding in Portugal? 

Just a weather warning that can potentially make your SUP trip unsafe. It’s the the Atlantic Ocean that we’re talking about with its tides, there may be days when the swell (from the South) is super strong and there’s the wind. This can make paddleboarding pretty complicated. In general, the swell is usually coming from the West and as we are on the South Coast of Portugal we’re fairly sheltered.

We were very lucky to as it was super flat during our stay.¬†In Summer, there can be neither swell nor wind, but it gets very busy so it’s really not the best time.

The Algarve is a victim of its own success, especially since the COVID pandemic. During COVID, it was one of the very few places in Europe where you could travel easily and there was a massive influx of vans, road trippers and travellers coming from all over Europe. It really took its toll on the local tourism with some disruptions and people who do not have this van-life / travelling mindset… and places got trashed with rubbish and all.

The locals were not impressed and tensions were high with car scratches, flat tires… During COVID when you searched travel applications such ‘park4night’, there were comments from people who found notes “tourists, go home” on their cars and stuff like that… It was definitely not my experience at all. When I went there, it was in October, out of season, and it was amazing! Great weather, very few people although at Benagil, from 9am on and even in October, it was getting busy. So the idea was to always go early and think outside the box – and we had no crowds for example at the second location I mentioned.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

In terms of the best time to travel, I would say that it’s bit like where I come from, in the South of the France – so between Spring and Autumn, May-June and September-October, these are the best periods. Especially in Portugal, it’s a little warmer so you can go a little further in the season. I would definitely not recommend July and August but there are of course people who can’t travel during that time but if you can, go off-season.

To sum it up, when paddling be careful with tides, waves and wind. Make sure that the wind won’t change direction and you will be faced with a headwind on the way back. that you do not end up with the wind in front of you on the way back. And when on land, there are many who travel by vans so respect the camping areas, respect the place… I think it’s important to make it clear as this travelling “code” is not natural for everyone, unfortunately. Road tripping in a van is one of the best ways to travel but you have to be respectful.

There’s also one other thing worth mentioning – there’s a big drought and water scarcity problem in Algarve. It was very hard to get water when travelling by van. In those limited places you have to pay to fill up and you can’t do it just anywhere. It’s very arid there, much warmer than in the South of France.

But then again, it was October after a very dry Summer. Maybe it’s a bit less restrictive in Spring¬† but it would be surprised. The production of avocado is very popular in Algrave¬† and I believe it takes around 100 litres of water to grow a single avocado. So it dries up the country. In the end we often had to stop at campsites to fill up.

There was also a form of unwritten code when on the water. From 11 am, there was more people with guides or tourist boats, plus kayaks and paddleboards… That’s a lot of different boat/vessel traffic at the same time but they do give you the way and tell you which way to turn in the caves.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

What boards did you use during this trip?

We used the inflatable Wattsup 10’6 Bream and Wattsup 11’6 Pike. Very good boards and very pretty, I find their blue colour aesthetically pleasing. The bags are also light and compact just the right volume to put at the bottom of the van, and mine was fairly small at L2 and H1.

I was very happy with the flexibility of having my own equipment. We could leave early in the morning at 6:30-7am at Sunrise, then return late at night… Being able to get into the water whenever and wherever you want without worrying about rentals, that was really what I wanted. You can of course rent gear very easily everywhere but you do end up constrained to opening times and locations.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

What do you think about the boards? 

Nothing to complain about. Spot on inflation system, perfect rigidity and glide… We did it twice, and it worked seamlessly. There’s also space to put your waterproof bag in the front. We didn’t have a leash though and it’s mandatory when it comes to safety. I regret not taking the leash. But hey, it is provided with the board!

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Do you have any upcoming projects with Wattsup and Coasto?

Our main activity is our production company: We’re content creators, videographers, photographers and drone pilots. We also do underwater footage so there’s no limit in the technical level of video and photos. We met Wattsup and Coasto teams at one of our projects to promotional content including videos, photos, shorter media forms for Instagram and then longer format for forums, boat shows, etc.

My brother Antoine and I are almost all the time working on some projects. We have just finished a collaboration with Wattsup on their kayaks and the new Wattsup Lined board line.

With Coasto we shooted their towed buoys, wakeboard and wakesurf gear… Last year, we did the whole range of Coasto products including stand-up paddleboards and kayaks and with Wattsup I went to Portugal with my girlfriend Apolline who is often a model during our photoshoots. She is a yoga teacher and a masseuse specialising in a lymphatic drainage massages. She does a little bit of everything when it comes to board sports and was comfortable on the paddleboard and doing the distances that we did.

Photo by Gossuin Brothers Production

Thank you very much for your time Aymeric – We really want to hit the road now!

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To find out more about Wattsup, visit www.watt-sup.com and follow the brand on social media: Facebook and Instagram

To find out more about Gossuin Brothers, visit gossuinbrothers.com and follow the brand on Instagram , Facebook and Youtube

Follow Aymeric Gossuin on Instagram

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*This is an English translation of the original article by Laurie Montagner

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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