Want to paint yourself into overhead barrels on Portugal's surf rich coast but need a little sexy in your accommodation?
Looking out across the western horizon, an atmospheric haze atop a sea surface glaze heralds all the sunset you’ll ever want or need. Witnessing this final farewell on the terrace at Noah, you can’t help but feeling you’ve been invited to the only party that matters.
For its relative dearth of freedom of expression in nomenclature, notably in proper nouns for people and places, Portugal more than makes amends via the pursuit and delivery of earthly pleasures.
And nowhere along her fine shores do they manifest more than at the excellent Noah, perched just so above the golden stretch of sands at Santa Cruz, fifty clicks north of Lisbon.
The various Santa Cruz (holy cross) ‘s are many. Which begs the question, would He really want reminding exactly how He met His sticky end? Surely the actual method of offing is by the by compared with all the fine work. Perhaps the Feeding of the five thou’ would’ve been better commemorated in Iberian peninsula place names had He only had the extra foresight to turn a handful of Galilee seawater into Portuguese olive oil from Alentejo to dunk those loaves in, especially the kind served at Noah.
More of that to follow.
Both Noah Surf House and Restaurant & Beach House are smart, spacious, ambitious new builds where post-modern concrete, high-performance glass and bleached wood all open toward the big blue Atlantic.
A well-placed succulent here, a cross-processed surf print there, from the juice in a jam jar meets artisanal loft meets up-cycled fisherman’s hut aesthetic, mature surf chic abounds. At a glance you could be in the surf haunts of Malibu or Avalon, only with added old-world charm and vertical history.
Welcome to modern Portugal’s pleasant shred-tinged confluence of gastronomy, design and internationalism.
The eight bedrooms and thirteen bungalows of Noah Surf House are cosy, comfy and well-appointed, and suit a range of budgets. Go all in on your own Mar & Cook Bungalow boasting seaview, kitchen, fireplace, outdoor shower and surf racks. Or merely toss your pack on a bunk in communal lot and get your Euro backpacker on in the finest of style.
Surf House’s cocktail bar, surf shop, wooden skatepark, organic veg garden, communal kitchen, gym, outdoor pool and jacuzzi all promise to nourish and stoke your rig to varying degrees.
Noah Restaurant & Beach House has nailed that rarest of vibe, refinement without fussy and wanky, cool without judgey. Whether you savour the Atlantic’s legendary local delicacies, or have virtue signalling hashtag plant-based requirements, a recurring theme of excellence and modernity runs through the menu.
And yet for all the culinary craft and cleverness, it’s the basics that steal your heart.
A wee dish of liquid sunshine to dip morsels of rustic loaf appetiser in (it’s still Europe, there’s gonna be carbs) became a daily highlight during my stay. I still think about that olive oil and its notes of artichokes, most days. It comes from the Alentejo wine district south of Lisbon and is called Angelica – another Good Book reference – and I thought it was the finest olive oil in all the world. As did the New York International Olive Oil Competition jury of 2015.
From your base at Noah you’ll love moseying down to Ericeira, Europe’s finest surf town for variety of surf break, a half-hour south. Or saunter up to thumping Supertubos, slightly closer to the north. Perhaps boot an hour up to witness Nazaré’s unique sinister threat.
The surf at Santa Cruz crashes with varying degrees of violence out front of Noah’s. Some days it’s the best spot on the entire coast, when slightly overhead groundswells render it delicious glimmering triangles.
Other days, it’s monstrous and out of control, such is the whimsical nature of Atlantic cyclogenesis.