Simply Lagos Interview Host: Marie MacDonald
Coastline Algarve - Creator & Owner: Nelson Louzeiro
Ocassionally, you come accross a person who is powered by their passion and energy, drawn by the love of their homeland, spawning a creative idea and making a dream come alive. Let me introduce you to Nelson Louzeiro as he tells his story and reflects on his journey towards creating Coastline Algarve
SimplyLagos - Marie: Can you tell me a little about yourself, “Your short-story”?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: My name is Nelson Louzeiro, 29 years old, married to Taly Minkov-Louzeiro, father of 2 little girls: Nayeli, 3 yrs old and Lianne, 1 yr old, born in Lagos, currently living in Sagres, Portugal. Being a kid growing up in the Algarve with the beach on my doorstep, it was really easy to fall in love with the ocean and to spend all the summers going to the beach and exploring the coastline. I was always into sports, tried all the sport clubs, but only when I started surfing in my early teens, that I found my passion.
Through surfing I discovered all of the amazing Costa Vicentina beaches, the most beautiful in the world, like being on a dream bubble because most of them are unspoilt and without any development or people, just nature. This was what made me move to Sagres, where I truly believe you can feel the energy of the ocean. And you’re a short distance from the waves of the west coast and the calm water protected and secret beaches of the south coast (near Sagres - because albufeira on the central, south coast is not secret at all :)
SimplyLagos - Marie: What about your career background? How did it contribute to where you are today?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: I also love science! In high school I studied computer technology and had plans and grades to go straight to uni for a computer programmer degree, but decided not to, since being on a desk all day was not how I wanted to spend my days on earth. So took a job in a Surf shop in Lagos for a while to figure out what I wanted to do and went surfing to the Canary Islands and Costa Rica in 2002 and France in 2003.
In January 2004 with 19 years of age I started working as a surf instructor and living the surfers life at a surf camp / school in Sagres and praia do Amado in Carrapateira. Later in this year I also traveled to Cabo Verde islands for another surf trip.
In September 2005, pursuing a career in marine sports and coaching, i started a BSc degree in Applied Marine Sports Science at the University of Plymouth, UK. Apart from getting a degree that combined most of my areas of interest, as marine sports coaching and physiology, oceanography, meteorology, the course was also focused at the business side of marine sports and how to develop a new business or event.
We had a lot of practical field work in this degree, once or twice a week we would go out to the Mount Batten sailing centre learn about sailing, kayaking and windsurfing performance science and also at the Coxside Dive Centre learning about boat design and safety in the sea.
Although this was a great life experience, like any overseas student I was missing home a lot. Luckily we had summer break and I could spend 3 months working as a surf coach back home which meant visiting family, friends and lots of surfing and being on the beach all day.
I took the opportunity of being in the UK, where despite being colder, the marine sports industry is a lot more developed and there are lots of great courses to become an instructor and more competent in handling risk activities, as well as first aid and life saving. So I did Surf Coach courses, Beach Lifeguard, First aider w/ oxygen administration, Sea Survival course, Powerboat driver, VHF operator. This was always my goal, to go abroad and learn as much as possible and get new input and ideas to develop back home!
I graduated in June 2008, came back to the Algarve and continued my position at the surf school. Got married, had my first child then a second one. During this period found the opportunity to go to Lanzarote in the Canaries, traveled with my wife in Israel (her birth country) and Poland to learn snowboarding.
SimplyLagos - Marie: - Why Standup Paddle Boarding?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: In 2008 I also started a new sport, Stand-up Paddle Boarding or SUP for short, and a new window opened for me, SUP allowed me to explore new places along the coast and look for those secret grottoes that you hear about as a child, a great workout that doesn’t feel like one since you become so absorbed by the surroundings and the fact that you are standing on “water”, a feeling like no other. Because of the high angle you can also see the colourful ocean floor and fishes.
The sport of SUP is really easy to learn for any age and any ability, but it can also become a challenge as there are many advanced techniques to learn and you can always push for long distance paddle. Then you can surf with them, so really there’s a large window of possibilities with SUP!
SimplyLagos - Marie: What makes you so passionate about your new venture Coastline Algarve?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: After a few years on the same job, the family growing and the desire of developing and challenging myself Coastline Algarve was born. The idea came together in the summer of 2012 when I really dedicated a lot of time to Standup Paddle, and swimming and snorkelling along the south coast looking for places suitable for Coasteering. Quitted my job in the end of 2012 when my 2nd daughter was only 2 months old, and in Jan 2013 dedicated full time to develop my new business. Made the business project with the help of an accountant, applied for funding (which arrived a year later, but that’s a story for another time) applied for insurance, material suppliers, acquired a van, internet research, licensing, registering a new business, etc. Design of the logo, flyers, website, social media, it just never ends! It has been really exciting (sometimes quite stressful) but most of all, rewarding.
SimplyLagos - Marie: What makes Coastline Algarve different?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: Although there have been, for a while now, a couple of places in the Algarve where you can SUP they usually only rent out the equipment and you can only paddle near the beach. The idea behind Coastline Algarve is to take people exploring the coastline, its caves, grottoes and secluded beaches on Stand-up Paddle Boards (and through Coasteering!). This involves a SUP lesson where safety is our priority and a guided tour. Since we are a mobile company, we do hotel pick ups and drop offs in our van, so the tour starts before getting on the water and takes the hassle of driving around looking for off the chart locations.
For when the sea is rough, or when the group is a family with kids, or if the clients prefer something else, we have also river tours and lake tours. What is great about SUP is that you can do it anywhere there is water! A couple of the beaches on the west coast have rivers that end in a lagoon just behind the beach, and usually link with the ocean on the high tide and during the winter rainy months. Paddling down one of those rivers, protected by the Natural Park of Costa Vicentina, is really a great experience. The hills and valleys bush scenery change constantly and around every bend there’s different birds and animals and the arrival at the beach is always amazing! For kids these lagoons are awesome for playing with each other and with their parents. After a short lesson and a little tour, there is always plenty of time for messing around, games a races with the paddle boards! Both young children and teenagers absolutely love SUP.
SimplyLagos - Marie: What about Coasteering?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: We are the only company doing Coasteering in the Algarve.
I learned this activity in Cornwall during the time when I lived in Plymouth and immediately saw the potential for it in the Algarve. But what is it? It is swimming in the ocean, walking along the rocky shoreline, jumping to the water, climbing back to the rocks and climbing higher to reach amazing spots for cliff jumping! There is also a huge part of exploring the coastline, like adventurers! Swimming in caves, traversing narrow passages and admiring huge grottoes. I love showing people about the marine life always linked to the Algarve local way of living, that you find in the tidal pools and attached to the rocks. Crabs, star fishes, mussels, goose barnacles (the famous percebes), cowries, sea snails and fish. The people who live of collecting these delicacies are the original Coasteers! Our goal is to show and teach, but not take anything out of its place, we really try minimize our impact on the area and if possible always make it cleaner by removing trash along the way and educating people about preserving nature.
For me Coasteering was something really natural to do, living by the sea all my life jumping of rocks, swimming, snorkelling, surfing and paddle boarding, loving nature and its conservation, loving to share all the beautiful things about the Algarve and its Coastline, and having the correct amount of safety knowledge, life guarding skills, 1st aid and group management i truly believed starting a Coasteering activity in the Algarve would be successful and most importantly something that would full fill me and put a smile on my face to come back to my family in the end of the day.
SimplyLagos - Marie: What is the most memorable feedback your clients give you?
Coastline Algarve - Nelson: For this is really best to check our TripAdvisor page. 2013 was a year for starting the company, so because it was new, not a lot of people knew about Coastline Algarve, and there weren't as much clients as expected, but the ones we had gave us the best feedback possible. This has been the driving force over this tough winter, to prepare better for the 2014 season, knowing it will be a great one!
Having people telling me they had the "best time of their lives" is really the best most memorable feedback a lot of clients gave me. Also what really inspires me is to hear the awe’s and woo’s when people see these places by SUP that I really love, and the smiles, laughs and screams when people do something fun, challenging and exciting like Coasteering.
For more about Nelson's Tours and Activities, Visit Coastline Algarve.
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