JARDIM DO MAR SURF: BIG WAVES ON MADEIRA

Jardim do Mar is one of the original surf villages of Madeira with powerful waves and reeling right-handers sweeping along the rocky point. During the winter, this quiet coastal town often provides consistent waves for surfers, who have been coming to Jardim do Mar since the 1970s. Madeira wasn’t a surfing hotspot until the 1990s, when magazine features, increased media attention, and local competitions put Jardim do Mar and nearby breaks Paul do Mar and Ponta Pequena on the map.

On October 29, 2020, a big swell and almost perfect conditions were predicted for Jardim do Mar. A number of high-profile surfers from Portugal and internationally had arrived in town and there was a quiet buzz in Jardim do Mar. I headed down for the morning session and stayed for the late sunset session to shoot this coming together of incredible waves and talented surfers in one of the most picturesque surf towns in Europe.

The morning session was a thunderous occasions with waves crashing with ferocity into the walls of Jardim do Mar. A dozen surfers courageously paddled out to take on these monoliths of the sea. Less than 50 onlookers perched themselves on the terraces of the village with a perfect vantage point of the break while the sun slowly rose over the towering cliffs behind the town. As first light broke onto the ocean, the show was well and truly on.

The late afternoon session was equally impressive as the sun set directly behind the waves but offered slightly smaller waves than in the morning and only five surfers mustered the energy for a second block after a marathon 4+ hour effort in the morning.

Personally, I had an incredible day exploring Jardim do Mar with lens in hand. We shot from the terraces next to the coast, the promenade and even ventured up into the vineyards and farming terraces for some alternative vantage points and framing. All of the photos were captured on my Sony A7riii and a Sony FE 100-400mm 4-5.6 telephoto lens. I shot handheld the entire day as I roamed throughout Jardim do Mar, taking in the uncommon spectacle of these incredible conditions.

These are my favorite photos from the day of shooting the surf in Jardim do Mar on Madeira Island.

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