[All photos + captions: Helio Antonio]

You may have noticed the name Helio Antonio pop up on Surfline more and more over the past year or so. The locally-born surfer/lensman has been one of Nazare’s best and most prolific documentarians for nearly a decade. He understands Praia do Norte’s ever-shifting moods better than most, and has explored shooting the place from every angle possible, earning all kinds of accolades and awards in the process.

“Swell lines bump into human constructions.”

Last week, when we saw a series of swells hitting Europe, we went into Atlantic Overdrive, and started covering the special event in realtime. We knew Nazare was going to be XL for multiple days, and that the WSL was going to hold their tow-in event there — which meant that there was no shortage of visiting shooters and surfers on hand to document the a-framed carnage. And yes, it was a spectacle, seen by many.

“First stop of the first morning. I didn’t expect this place to be pumping — but a set came in and the colors were beautiful.”

But we also knew that there is way more to Portugal than Nazare. We knew that Portugal is holding all kinds of surf for regular, non-XL-loving surfers. And so we asked Helio to take the road less traveled. “Anywhere but Nazare,” we asked. And he got in his car before dawn for four straight days and captured some of the most beautiful images we saw from the whole run of swell. Many of the surfers are unidentified, meaning they could be like a buddy you see at your local every day. Many of the spots are also unidentified, ’cause, well, he didn’t tell and we didn’t ask.

“Glassy, overhead barrel for a lucky surfer.”

“Funny how Nazare is still kicking ass, and just one hour away you can go get some fun barrels,” he said on day three of the run. “The vibe is really good! Just about anyone who can be in the water is in the water. After long days on the road, I’m sure: Portugal is one of the best places on earth at this time of year.”

Based on these images, we’re inclined to agree. The Irish Slab may have won the Atlantic Overdrive battle, but Portugal took the war.

“Late afternoon ride, view from above.”

Nazare Cam | Supertubos Cam | Peniche Forecast | Ribeira de Ilhas Cam | Carcavelos Cam

“I’d love to see someone tackle this wild animal. It’s been surfed before — but the risk is very present.” (And very obvious.)

“Believe it or not, there’s a guy having a very good time inside that barrel. And yes, he made it out.”

“Too much swell to be paddling out at this spot — but if anyone got out there…”

Watch: Out Front, Portugal

“One more that goes unridden.”

“Here’s the inside section.”

“This place has very few takers — heavy, fast waves and difficult access keep everyone away.”

“The beginning of a great barrel.”

“Here’s the first stop of the day at what’s probably the the least-surfed good spot I know.”

“Pedro Calado navigating a bomb — probably the wave of the session.”

“Blue hour and offshore winds are my favorite combination.” (We’ve never heard ‘blue hour,’ either, but we like it.)

“Man-made waves can be a good thing.”

“Lines kept fitting perfectly on this particular reef/pointbreak.”

“One of the last waves of the day — why not share it?”

BONUS VIDEO:

Watch: The Portuguese slab that got away (and one that didn’t)