Figueira da Foz, a Portuguese beach resort about 3 hours northwest of Lisbon, has the widest beach in the world.
It is swarming with Portuguese, Spanish, and French holidaymakers.
It has jawdroppingly good ice cream. That Holly refuses to share…
And Phoebe cannot get over…
It also offers some radical long boarding opportunities.
None of these, however, is the reason we chose FOF for a week of our trip. We’re here because it’s the home of a somewhat renowned surf coach for people like us, eager but struggling beginners. He goes by Filipe. He’s old school, authoritarian, and people swear by him. With his wax on/wax off type methodologies, we all have had our moments of doubt. Hes a bit grouchy. And impatient. And he’s peeved us at times by denouncing our existing surf skills as “horrendous habits that must be broken.” The first day, after we had proudly reported we had some waves under our belts, he told us–children and all–that were were “a mess.”
But as the days have progressed, we’ve seen, as did Ralph Macchio, that there’s a method to the guru’s madness. With his focus on surfing first principles (the basic skills of real surfing, which is much more than the thrill of being pushed onto a wave), we’ve glimpsed, however fleetingly, what it would feel like to be true, self-sufficient surfers, able to find, catch, and surf real waves without having our hands held.
Do I have proof? No. Because Filipe has a strict ban on Go Pros-distracting, amateur-hour “rubbish.” We did, however, manage to sneak a few shots of ourselves endlessly studying the break before paddling out, excruciating, but critical to any good session, as has now been drilled into us. (You see now what I mean by the Karate Kid analogy…)
(I also really like the part at the end, where you get to lie down, exhausted and spent, and watch the waves from your beach chair.)