Zavial is a famous surf spot in the Algarve and home to a wave that deserves a great deal of respect, as do the locals at this beach. Surfers occasionally snapped boards here at 1-2 feet as it is a really heavy and powerful wave. We have also seen many inexperienced surfers paddle out on good size days and get a beating from the sea and show little thought to other more experienced surfers or locals.
Waves like this are fantastic in the right conditions but you can’t ignore the rules of etiquette. We often say when teaching if would you drive your car and pretend that nobody else is on the road or important enough to acknowledge. If you did, you’d end up in a crash and you will definitely be affecting others in a bad way. The same goes for surfing. Especially at a surf spot like Zavial.
On the south coast, Zavial is a stunning beach that faces South West. It can pick up swell from south to Northwest if big enough. In general, it is best to receive swell from big Northwest or West swells.
It is offshore in any wind from the North.
If you are looking for hollow waves, then surf around the low tide. Watch out as it can get too low on any good-sized swell and be a closeout. We prefer this break at mid to low to mid-tide. If it is 1-2 foot you will surf all the way through the low tide but any bigger and it will close out a lot at low tide. On bigger swells, you can surf Zavial at much higher tides and it is good but can be a bit wobbly with the refraction waves that bounce from the rocks.
Peaks & bottom
The west corner of the beach is the most famous of the waves here. It is a right-hand point that barrels very heavily with a good few rocks underneath you. This wave is for experts and locals only. If it goes wrong in the corner, you get washed into the cliffs in front of you for what will be an uncomfortable and scary experience.
When you walk on the beach at the corner of the cliff is a nice easy rip channel straight out and home to a great right-hander just across from the corner. This wave can be heavy and hollow and very fast. If this peak is busy, give it some space. You don’t want to get in the way of the guys already there.
Along the beach, there are a few more peaks that are user-friendly.
Time of year
Almost year-round surfing, an absolute beast and much less-crowded in wintertime.
There is a nice beach bar and restaurant on the right side as you enter the beach that allows you to check out most of the line-up while enjoying a well-deserved beer.