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These volcanic peaks appear directly in the path of winter low pressures and scoop the swell onto lava slabs, basalt boulders and black sand beaches. Isolated by 1600kms of Atlantic from Portugal and often encircled by the Azores High pressure system, winds are unpredictable and swells comes from a multitude of directions. A small population of cool locals patrol the main line-ups, but there is plenty of scope for discovery, making the Azores a mysterious, hardcore destination for adventurous surf-trippers.