I wasn't sure what to do with my summer this summer, I knew I wanted to go somewhere, probably in Europe, but I wasn't sure where. Then I saw that my University's surf club (who I'd never been involved with) were going to Portugal for a week and I thought why not? I mean I usually go to foreign countries and join trips where I know no one, the only difference here is that they'll all be back in Notts when I go back to Uni, whereas other friends I've met on my travels are scattered across the world. And so my trip to Dreamsea Surfcamp in Portugal was booked.

Located about a 2 hour bus ride from Lisbon Dreamsea is part of a larger holiday park type complex but is right next to the beach. It's in a stunning location and you're guaranteed to have a fun week there, but I had kind of a mixed experience.

Now I'll be honest, I have a really random assortment of pictures from my time here, mostly of cliffs and beaches, which hopefully shows the beauty of Praia de Galé which dreamsea is located next to.

 These pictures may make it look like I was really good at slacklining, but I stood up, and then fell off again. Repeately.
 Honestly the most beautiful thing was the view of the sunset, sat on a deck with a glass of wine looking at the sun set over the sea was just the best thing in the world. I drank a lot of sagres and sangria looking over this cliff. Now I think for the rest of this I'm going to do a review style piece, because that best suits having both sides of the experience of my stay here. Dreamsea was a beautiful and tranquil place, but I went with quite a rowdy university group and so it wasn't necessarily ideal for us, even though it was advertised as a university trip style place.
Deamsea accommodation is all glamping style teepes, with a proper decked floor above the sand, electricity, mattresses and bedding provided. It's the best style of camping I've ever experienced and meant you could stay on the sand, close to the beach without actually rouging it and camping, though sand did still get everywhere. There's also a bar and seating area in the middle of camp where you can chill, and where meals are served, which is decked out in mismatched furniture.

The showers and toilets were a bit of a walk away in the main camping area but you kind of expect that camping, unless you upgrade to glamping plus in which case you get your own toilet.

I really can't say anything bad about the accommodation, it's beautifully done
 The Activities
At Dreamsea they really do try hard to make sure that everyone has plenty of stuff to do, there were activities on every day, from Day trips to Lisbon, horse riding on the beach, dance contests, and even a happiness convention. The staff here work super hard on everything that's happening. They even had people come from outside to do a cruiser board painting activity, Ayma boards, which wasn't the cheapest activity but I really enjoyed it (though I have still yet to finish my board). Along with that in the main part of the camp outside of Dreamsea's area there was a swimming pool, football pitch and basketball courts, bar and restaurant, so you weren't stuck for stuff to do there.

So during the day and early evening there was plenty to do. But not so much at night, Dreamsea is definitely a place to go and chill, but I was with a very party hard group of people and it's safe to say after about 11:30pm there wasn't much, that was the curfew up at the camp when lights went out and then we had to go to the beach or be silent. There was a beach bar but it was never really very clear whether it was going to be open or not, and on the last night the security there were finding every excuse in the book to trying to kick us out. Despite the fact on the first night it was fine for us to bring our own drinks down provided they were glass free, on the last night they kicked anyone out of the bar area who was carrying their own bottles even if they were also buying drinks, they even tried to kick me out for falling over, even though someone had accidentally tripped me, and it left a bit of a sour taste in everyone's mouths. We had kept buying our own drinks because the bar wasn't open when they said it would be, but now just having them with us warranted being kicked out and not allowed back. I have to add that this was the security for the main camp site, who are there to keep dreamsea in check. But if you're looking to come here for a more wild party it's not really the place for that.

It's safe to say they had a fair reason not to like us much, people in our group kept bringing glass down to the beach which is actually illegal in Portugal, and we were pretty rowdy. But there was no middle ground, they wanted even the people in our group trying their best to behave to get out and they made that very clear. When we were obeying one rule, they made another. It was a shame on both sides.
The surfing
I had surf lessons with my package and I have to say they were really well done, it was nice being the only "surf school" on the beach and the lesson were a style that I think really helped people learn about the water. The only thing was we weren't very lucky with the surf when we got there, on the first day we were battered and pushed around by very rough waves and after that it was all a bit dead.

The waves here crash quite heavily on shore meaning it is a mission to get into the sea and I found it just generally really exhasting, but a lot of fun.The instructors were all a lot of fun and were clearly very good at their jobs.
The food
I only have one picture of any of the food, because every day I was too busy eating the food to think about taking pictures of it.

Honestly it's some of the best food I have ever eaten, all of it had vegan options, there were vegan desserts every single day, I was in heaven. Also whoever made the gerkin mash and the beetroot pasta at Dreamsea I need them to give me the recipe for those because they were amazing.

On the last day there was also a massive BBQ and I can tell the staff in the kitchen but a lot of work into making the food amazing because it was, all of the vegans on the trip were in heaven, everyone else seemed to think it was a little too healthy, but damn it was good.
The Staff
Again there's a mixed experience here, and it is because of the group I was with I feel. On the first morning we got a big telling off for being loud and not respecting camp rules, which is fair because our group did do that, it felt like a bit much from my point of view but then again I'd had some drinks at the beach and then went to bed so I didn't see the chaos. The staff did try hard to work with us and keep their camp running with a bunch of rowdy students there while also being nice to us but they didn't always do the best job at that. It was clear by the end of the week that most of them wanted us gone, not surprisingly, while some staff members warmed up to us as individuals and as a group there were a few who just got more and more sick of us and acted slightly unprofessional.

On the last day I went to go and search for a water bottle I had lost (I lose things all the time, it's not out of carelessness or disrespect for dreamsea, I always have done) and I walked away empty handed with a staff member rudely say to his colleage "we haven't go any of their fucking stuff they keep coming up here" which made me feel pretty shit I'm not going to lie. Another staff member just stormed off at lunch and refused to serve people when they started making a mess, which in some ways was fair enough, but also there were a lot of other people waiting for lunch who had done absolutely nothing wrong so it was a bit much for them.

On this blog, it's something I have to talk about, but the sustainability here was really well done. There were pretty much no disposables used in the camp, with glass straws for their cocktails and plates you washed yourselves for dinner. They had recycling facilities for any disposable items you may have, most of the food was vegan, so a plus there, and there was a real emphasis on looking after the environment, not littering and just being at one with the sand. All things I can definitely get behind.

Plus the activities like board painting and flower crown making were all about making things by hand from nature, there was nothing about it that felt commercial, or wasteful, and that was wonderful.
The Overall Experience
Definitely mixed, it's a beautiful place and I'm sure I'd feel quite differently about it if I'd gone alone, but it's not the place for a university group who want to surf all day and party all night. I think it's a shame that it was sold to us as that because if the surf club had known they'd probably have just booked a place that would be ok with us partying the night away. I don't necessarily think it's all Dreamsea Portugal's staff's fault for the experience because we just weren't meant for each other. We assumed it would be a place we could party and be a bit rowdy and it wasn't. I also think that because they had so many people in the camp that week (including another university group) it was always going to be hard to keep everyone "in check".

Would I go back? I'm not entirely sure, the food was amazing, the accommodation was beautiful and the experience was a lot of fun, and maybe if I had a few friends who wanted a more chill week it would be really nice, but I don't think I'd be very welcome if they knew the group I'd come with before.

Do I recommend it? Yes, if you're with a quieter group of people who are going to be ok with Dreamsea's rules, then it's for you. It's ideal for people looking for a week to really relax, look after themselves and have a lot of fun.
So apologies to Dreamsea for our group, I think we got a lot of wires crossed along the way, it was a really fun week I just think our two groups were not meant to be.