One of the best things about the Basque Country, aka Pays Basque in French, is that you can never run out of fun and interesting things to do, from surfing on the waves to walking up mountains, this area is abundant with possibilities (see our article of the 7 things to do in the French Basque Country this summer).
In this article we explore our top 10 of the surf spots you can find in the Basque country.
There is no shortage of places to surf in this region, whether you’re a seasoned pro or trying it out for the first time, there is always a break suited to you. For those looking for a more “user-friendly” break, then head to the Cote de Basque beach and sign up to a surf lesson led by expert teachers who have countless surf-hours under their belts. If you’re feeling ready to take on something a bit heavier then there is an array of point breaks and stronger beach breaks up and down the coast, stretching from Anglet all the way down to San Sebastian in Spain. For example, Chambre d’Amour in Anglet, Grand Plage in Biarritz, Uhabia in Bidart or Zurriola in San Sebastian. You’ll have no trouble renting a board as most of the main surf breaks have a selection of boards offering a huge range of boards from bodyboards to longboards. The great thing about the Basque Country in the summer is that the sea is warm enough to surf in a 2mm shorty wetsuit, boardies or bikini, we do recommend you wear a rash vest for a bit of extra sun protection though!
The beaches and surf spots in Anglet are easy to find as it’s just one long stretch of sand and ocean, starting from the north end there is La Barre, situated next to the river mouth, and as your work your way down to south end of Anglet you have 6 other surf breaks before you hit VVF, the beach break under the lighthouse. The waves along this stretch of beach are heavier than other waves you may find in the area, such as Cote des Basques, but they offer great opportunity for barrels and fast sections.
Perhaps the most know beach in the French Basque country is Grand Plage, located in front of the famous Casino and magnificent Hotel de Palais, the setting couldn’t be more picturesque and the waves are great too! Not as gentle as the waves at Cote des Basques, but sure to offer a memorable session to slightly more experienced surfers who are practiced in riding on the wall of the wave.
Just next door to Biarritz, under a 10-minute drive down the coast, is Bidart, a very traditional Basque town with the classic architecture and paintwork. The beach at Bidart Centre offers a mix of left and right handers with a bit of a kick if you catch it on the right size and right tide, which is normally when the tide is ascending after low. Uhabia is just next door and, again, is a super fun beach break with enough peaks to handle the crowds.
This quaint little town next door is where most of the reef breaks are hidden, a dreamy place for longboarders, shortboarders and thrill seekers alike. Lafitenia, Cenitz and Parlamentia is home to longboarders all year round and when the swell hits this spot can really hold some sizable swell, so check the report before you paddle out to this reef break. Next, there is Cenitz offering a selection of user friendly waves which break over a rocky sea floor, and can only really be surfed on the high tide, and after that there’s Lafitenia, a right had point break suited to the more advanced surfers.
A total heaven for beginners, Hendaye is a large bay with countless different breaks ideal for those starting out, thanks to the number of different waves break it allows the crowds to spread out a bit and give you a good chance of getting a nice long ride.
One of the most famous places in the Basque Country, known world-wide for its incredible food, notably the Pinxtos (tapas), and for its stunning architecture and cathedrals; San Sebastian is a bucket-list must. The best spot in San Sebastian to surf is at La Zurriola, a beach located near the centre of town, this popular beach break is home to peeling left and right handers, and consistently breaks all year-round. Be careful to check the surf report as this spot works best on smaller swells and tends to close out once it gets over 5 foot.
If you are looking for a break that can hold its own when a big swell comes to town, then Mundaka is your spot! Only a 30-minute drive from Bilbao, Mundaka is in a small coastal town within the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, and is considered one of the world’s best left handers. This long, barrelling wave is reserved for advanced surfers only, the take-off is very steep and then it hollows out into a fast and throaty tube. Mundaka really is the perfect wave when the conditions align, as was showcased for nearly 10 years when the world’s best surfers would come here annually for a stop on the World Championship Tour of Surfing.
Only 20-minutes away from Bilbao is Sopelana, a very consistent beach break with a few different peaks to accommodate the crowds, and working well on small to medium sized swells. This beginner-friendly spot is home to surf schools and surf shops, so you can jump in and take your first surf lesson or rent a board of your choice and spend a few hours working on your surf technique. Surrounded by towering cliffs and sandy beaches, Sopelana is sure to make you feel humbled by the beauty of the landscape and thrilled by the power of the waves.
One of the most popular surf spots in Spain is Zarautz beach in Pais Vasco, a very reliable beach break with a great choice of left and rights, and generally working best around high tide. Offering a large beach, perfect for chilling on in-between surfs, and kitted out with a few surf schools and surf camps, ready to provide you with expert coaching to improve your surf skills or help you catch your very first wave. Zarautz is home to a variety of short boarding and longboarding competitions throughout the year, showcasing the world’s best surfing talent and proving the potential of this wave.
Breaking in the mouth of the Nervion River in Getxo is the big wave spot of Punta Galea, this right-hand point break is known mainly as a proving ground for Basque big wave surfers and for its occasional appearance on the Big Wave World Tour. This wave certainly isn’t for the faint hearted and is strictly reserved for very experienced surfers, equipped with the proper safety gear and support team, however, if you do manage to catch this spot when a big swell rolls in, then you’re guaranteed some very entertaining viewing!
Note that you can also book private and personalized coaching with surfing champion Emmanuelle Joly in Biarritz. Whatever your level, beginner, intermediate, advanced or even expert, Emmanuelle will be happy to give you his pro advice to help you discover the surf, improve your technique or discover spots and take waves like no one!