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Nazare, the small town that inspired the famous surfer Garret McNamara!

Nazare, the small town that inspired the famous surfer Garret McNamara!

November 23, 2017

Nazare is a pretty and small town placed near the Atlantic Ocean. One day, the famous surfer McNamara visited this humble spot and fall in love with it. Its waves, people, cultural heritage and Tradition inspired him, and he is now part of its history.

This could be a love story, but it’s more than that. It’s a devotion to a place on Earth that once got the most famous surfer, Garret McNamara, completely overwhelmed by its waves, weather, and people. Nazare is that place.

The town of Nazare

Portugal is an old country and all these not-so-famous places have thousands of stories that inspire people all over the world. One can even say that Nazare has a secret power that makes you feel thankful and calm in literally every breath you take. Obviously, there are too many good reasons why Nazare should be the next place to visit.

Different from other grandiose towns in Portugal, what makes Nazare so special is the atmosphere; it could be the mother of all other towns because it has so much love in it and it’s so Portuguese. Owner of three old villages: Praia (which means “beach”), one of the most traditional fishing villages in the country; Pederneira, located on the top of a hill, possesses an amazing temple from the XVII century, classified as a Monument of Public Interest; and Sítio where, according to the legend, D. Fuas Roupinho found an image of the Virgin Mary hidden in a cave which was brought from Nazareth, Palestine, in the VIII century. Sítio is also the place where a 318 metres rock meets the sea and it’s considered one of the most famous panoramic views of the Portuguese coast. A must-see, isn’t it?

Becoming more and more famous every year, Nazare has a soft and inviting weather and the natural landscapes look like they were built with the hands of a supreme power – they’re just impressive.

Surf in Nazare

Don’t you think that even the word ‘Nazare’ has a melodic sound? The same goes with the beach and the waves. Nazare beach is known in Portugal for several reasons: big waves, the surf, the fishing and the place where many Portuguese families spend their summer holidays.

With the waves back, surfers like the American McNamara choose this destination as an ideal spot to live with adrenaline along with their surfing boards. In 2011, Garret McNamara reached what we could call the ‘impossible’ – he surfed a tremendous 78 feet wave and became the protagonist of a Guiness world record. Intense and almost mythological is how we could describe the feeling of seeing that giant wave.

If you love to surf in giant waves or only watch them, did you know that Nazare has a challenge reserved for you? It’s called Big Wave Tour and it belongs to the World Surf League, which started with the Nazare Challenge in 2016 and it occurs between October 15 and December 31 (this is the period where surfers from all over the world need to wait for the big waves to come). Definitely, Nazare is quite an inviting place for all surfers and its arms are wide open and ready to welcome you without any prejudice or barriers.

Nazare Traditions

It’s always adorable going to this part of the country and see how well these people keep their traditions.

Have you ever seen those older ladies with scarves on their heads selling fresh fish and wearing those nice and wide skirts? That is exactly what you will find in Nazare. These fisher women wear what we call the seven skirts of Nazare, which are formed by seven layers of colourful skirts; they also use wooden clogs and a black headscarf. Some people say the seven layers represent the days of the week, the colours of the rainbow, or the number seven, commonly represented as the lucky number. But what we really know is that all these folk tales give Nazare a truly meaning of substantiality.

Tradition has always been part of their hearts given to the people who come to say “hello”. As you may understand, love is everywhere in Nazare and one can’t feel indifferent to it.


Gastronomy in Nazare is packed with little surprises for your stomach. Fish and seafood are the kings of the dishes and, if you go to a restaurant, never hesitate to ask for a cataplana de peixe (fish cataplana), a divine Portuguese arroz de marisco (rice seafood), or a caldeirada Nazarena. Ah, and don’t forget the perfect match for these dishes: a cold beer. We’re pretty sure McNamara would recommend you a nice plate of fish and vegetables – simple, delicious and comforting.

Tender and caring - Nazare is exactly like this. It doesn’t matter if you come for the big waves or only to spend a good time on your next holidays. Nazare will always be here as the typical Portuguese place where everyone feels at home. But, if you really enjoy surfing, you may come, stay, and dream.