In recent years, Nazaré has mostly been known to the western surfing world for its giant waves. For a while there, it was largely discounted by people who had never surfed it, claiming that it’s not a “real” wave, using the argument that it doesn’t break top-to-bottom. But there can be no disputing the fact that it is an enormous lump of water.
An offshore canyon, nearly 16,000 feet deep, points at the tiny fishing village. Acting as a funnel, it takes winter swells and magnifies their energy before puking them out as giant, sometimes rideable waves. But while most of us know it for Garrett McNamara and Andrew Cotton’s heroics there – and as the spot of Maya Gabeira’s near-drowning – Nazaré was being surfed in the late 1960s by a small group of people.
In 1968, in a film called Follow Me, Nazaré made its big break. From there, though, it stayed off the radar until McNamara’s world record (yes, it was) 78-foot wave in 2011. Since then, Nazaré has slowly been brightening in the surfing public’s eyes; not just for the famed big wave break, but for the town’s charm and not-so-giant waves.