Things to Do in Nazaré

Nazaré is a popular seaside town on the Silver Coast in the Oeste region of Portugal.  It is most famous for its giant waves which attract world renowned surfers during November, though the historic fishing village offers many other interesting things to do.

The Nazaré Canyon

One may wonder how the quiet surf of the summer turns into monstrous 100-foot waves in the winter.  It is due to the Nazaré Canyon.  The Nazaré Canyon, some 16,000 feet deep and Europe’s largest underwater canyon, is located just a few hundred feet offshore.

Several elements combine to contribute to the big waves in Nazaré.  The canyon’s depth causes waves to move toward shore with more speed than the waves on the shallow continental shelf.  Some of the fast-moving waves surge out of the deep canyon and combine with waves on the shallow continental shelf.  The result is a section of the wave which is effectively two waves stacked on top of each other.

The huge amount of water brought to shore is sometimes sucked back into the combined wave increasing its size even more.  Adding Atlantic storms and wind patterns to the mix, Nazaré ends up with some of the largest waves in the world.