- travel with carlo
surf camp | gota d'agua | portugal - a digital nomads surfing story
'not just a place. but a lifestyle, the surfing lifestyle'
ever since i was a kid i dreamed about the surfing lifestyle. living on the coast & surfing everyday was a dream of mine back then but then life, work & reality hit. in the last few years i have tried surfing a few times in brazil, colombia & south africa but this was the first time in a surf villa living the life i dreamed about when i was young.
the gota d'agua (water droplet, in portuguese) surf villa is at the heart of the experience i had here.
from the moment i arrived & met luis the chef i felt part of the family. the villa is stunning & has been recently renovated from the dorms to the private rooms with balconies, the spacious bathrooms & the indoor chillout lounge it's the perfect place to sleep, but it's the outdoor space where this villa comes alive.
the villa has a huge outdoor area from the sun loungers at the front to the communal dining tables at the side & then there is the back. wow here is where the villa comes into its own. the games room with ping pong & foosball to the bar, hanging chairs & sofa we spent many a night out eating dinner that luis cooked up from cod pie to a barbecue. one of my favourite moments of the day was sipping some of the finest port wine i have ever had the pleasure of drinking (yes, I'm a big port wine fan). whether i wanted to chill & read a book or play table tennis with the crew i was never bored or alone, as a single traveller / digital nomad, it is the perfect place to feel like you are part of a community.
'i wanted to let you know that for those worried about covid-19 issues there are non-here. situated away from the city & with the team using masks & disinfectants i never worried about the virus, the team are doing all they can to mitigate the risks & protect guests.
this is not only just a place to stay & surf it's a lifestyle, an experience. as a digital nomad i am always on the lookout for connection with people & to be part of a community, be that local or foreign i believe it's fundamental for humans to seek out connections.
one of the biggest take aways from my experience at gota d'agua is the amount of people i connected with from other travellers to the owner & full-time staff like ricardo, miguel & luis all happily interacting with guests on a deeper level. then there are the volunteers that make this villa such a fun place to be it was like having a readymade family. we went surfing together, visited sintra, went for dinner at the local bar, drank port wine & ate breakfast together every day. there is no guest, staff, volunteer divide here everyone is part of the family, the gota d'agua family & ricardo the owner has done an excellent job to make sure every guest feels this.
so, this is what i came for. as i explained earlier it has always been a dream of mine to live the surfer lifestyle & for sure i was going to surf as much as possible. everyday i headed out to the surf school on the free bikes or got a ride from ricardo & the staff.
the surf shack is where the day starts, i mostly met with miguel (surf instructor) to pick up the board & wetsuit 'you're going to need a wetsuit here as the water is super cold' it may seem easy to surf but there is a lot of technique to the sport & even if you have done it before a refresher is always advised, just ask miguel & he will be super happy to give you a class depending on your ability.
the first day i went out with a few of the volunteers & jonathan (a remote worker staying for month, great guy). although i didn't catch many waves this was the first time i have been in the ocean since brazil in october, for me this is a super long time as i feel very connected to the ocean, i find it very peaceful to sit on the board waiting for the perfect wave, i see it as a form of meditation. i remember on my last day of surfing i caught the perfect wave & i rode it for as long as i could the adrenaline rush when you catch a wave is addicting, i immediately paddled back out past the surf break to try it all over again, needless to say i didn't catch another wave as good as that one but i still felt on top of the world for the rest of the day.
as a full-time traveller & digital nomad i sometimes suffer from the feeling of a lack of purpose. earlier this year in the winter i lived in a bulgarian ski resort (bankso) & went snowboarding every day where the lack of purpose complex disappeared. at the surf camp i had that same feeling, every morning i had a purpose to wake up & head out to surf improving my skills every day.
note: i arrived in july during the covid-19 pandemic & the team are taking it very seriously by disinfecting the wetsuits thoroughly after every use.
about 40 mins from lisbon airport on the costa da caparica. it's perfectly placed to enjoy the beach without the need to travel for too long from the airport. this is also great if you want to experience the famous portguese night life in lisbon or visit the world heritage site of sintra "we'll speak more about that below".
out & about
a few of us took the day off surfing to visit the world heritage site of sintra. sintra is a town in the foothills of portugal’s sintra mountains, around 35 mins from the surf villa. its forested terrain is studded with pastel-coloured villas & palaces. the hilltop pena palace known for its brightly coloured design & awesome views was a favourite of mine, a must do day trip.
my lasting impressions
as soon as i left the villa i had the feeling that i wanted to go back. the feeling of community along with being close to the sea & improving my surf skills was one of the greatest experiences of my life, a memory that i will not forget.
'i have to give a big thank you shout out to ricardo, miguel, luis & the volunteers who made my time here truly unforgettable'.
short-term surf packages can be booked directly on the website or if you are looking for a long-term deal (a month or more) contact ricardo on facebook.
⦿ euro is the national currency. you can exchange at the airport or use any atm free.
⦿ if you're a european citizen & you travel often see my blog post on the curve card it's the best travel card around. i have saved hundreds of euro's using it. download the app and enter my promo code: CARLO to get a free card & €/£5. click here to see the post.
⦿ need an international bank account or transfer money at the lowest rates? i use transferwise to make all my transfers you can even open a remote eur, usa, gbp accounts for free. click here to get your first transfer for free.
⦿ travel insurance for travellers and nomads; look no further than safety wing. $37 a month no contact you can also activate it while already traveling unlike most other insurers. get it here.
country travel tips
atm: free to use with most european cards.
sim card: i use airalo e-sim for every country. get yours here
transport: use the public transport, reasonable prices. uber €15 to the airport.
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here