You’re spoilt for choice with watersports in Portugal with everything from powerboat racing in the Algarve to canyoning in Madeira.
It is a great destination for all things wet and wild as most Portuguese people spent half their childhood in the water!
Here is a small selection of the watersports Portugal offers:
In the Algarve: lots to choose from including: surfing, body board, kitesurfing, wake boarding, jet skis, fly boarding, water skiing, knee boarding, parasailing, SUP, sea kayaking, jet boats, inflatables (ringo etc) and more!
In Lisbon surfing, kite surfing, coasteering, sea kayaking, SUP, scuba diving, inflatables and more
In the North: come canyoning, canoeing, hydrospeed, waterskiing, wakeboarding, rafting, jet boats and more.
In Madeira canyoning, surfing, SUP, sea kayaking, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins and more.
In the Azores canyoning, scuba diving, diving with sharks and more.
New watersports are popping up all the time but some adrenaline junkie favourites are jet skiing, water skiing and wake boarding, canyoning and coasteering, rafting and hydrospeeding, parascending/parasailing and powerboats.
On the Rivers
White Water Rafting and Hydrospeeding (aka riverboarding)
With stunning, mountainous scenery and clean, fast flowing rivers the north of Portugal is particularly popular for white water rafting and hydrospeeding. The Rio Minho is ideal for beginners while Rio Pavia and Rio Tamega offer more of a challenge for experienced rafters. If throwing yourself down rapids in a small raft is too tame for you (!) then try hydrospeeding where you lie down on a board and use the flippers on your feet to steer and propel your self through the white water.
The aim of canyoning is to make your way down the steep canyons and gorges of mountain rivers by any means possible. So on a typical day you could find yourself scrambling, jumping, swimming, climbing and abseilling depending on the difficulty of the descents. The islands of Madeira are some of Europe’s top canyoning destinations thanks to their distinctive volcanic landscape, fast mountain rivers and waterfalls and year round mild climate. On mainland Portugal the best canyoning is found in the north between Porto and the Spanish border at Melgaço. This sport is not for the faint-hearted but beginners are welcome as long as you can swim.
Still one of the most popular ways to have a laugh and cool down on a hot day. During the summer you can easily hire a jet ski from beaches and marinas in popular tourist areas such as the Algarve and around Lisbon. Bear in mind that under Portuguese safety regulations you are only allowed to ride jet skis in daylight hours and can’t go more than a mile out to sea.
Water Skiing and Wakeboarding
These sports definitely come under the heading of thrills and spills! Water skiing and wakeboarding are practised along the coast and on lakes and reservoirs all across Portugal. In both sports you are towed behind a boat but in wakeboarding you have a single board whereas in water skiing you use two skis. Waterskiing is faster but wakeboarding is arguably easier to learn. While the pros can pull off amazing aerial stunts as a beginner you generally fall in quite a bit before you find your feet. Still you’ll have a lot of fun especially on the long, hot sunny days.
Parasailing( aka parascending)
On a parasailing trip you fly over the water as your parachute is towed behind a boat. This sport can be as relaxing or exhilarating as you like making it suitable for families as well as thrill seekers. To increase the thrill factor ask your guide to up the speed, dip you in the water and show you free style tricks like bungee parasailing and bare foot water skiing!
RIB and powerboat rides
These are a cool way to explore Portugal’s stunning coastline and perfect if you love speed but prefer to sit back and let someone else do all the hardwork!