Surfing in Spain
Spain has some of Europe’s best waves, all set in a diverse climate across almost 5 thousand km of coastline. The country’s western and northern coasts are located on the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Biscay, and have four main surfing zones: Cantabria, Asturias, the Basque Country, and Galicia. Spain is also the political home of the Canary Islands, which are another great area for surfing with warm water and consistent swells year round. The southern and eastern coasts are located on the Mediterranean Sea, where it’s also possible to surf, although the swells are not so consistent. With so many different surf zones in the country, It’s only natural that there would be some world class waves. The most famous surf spot in Spain is definitely Mundaka, a long left hander that breaks in front of a river mouth and was one of the stops of the former ASP world tour for many years ago.
Climate in Spain
Spain’s swells average range from 3-4 ft in summer, and 5-6 ft in winter. September through April has heavy, tubing waves with consistent swells, which are great for intermediate, advanced, and pro surfers. Northern Spain has an oceanic climate, with warm summers, when light wetsuits will be enough. Winters are colder, with foggy days and some rain, so full wetsuits plus booties are appropriate, especially if you will be surfing the shallow reef breaks. Southern Spain has a semi-arid climate with sunny days and warmer temperatures. In summer you won’t need a wetsuit, and in winter a light wetsuit will do. The Canaries are surfable without a suit throughout the year thanks to the incredible weather, but there are plenty of reefs, so bring booties.
Best surf spots in Spain
The Canary Island enjoys a seemingly endless summer and is full of fantastic surfing spots. Some of the best known are The Spanish Left in Tenerife, The Bubble in Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote’s Morro Negro.
In the continent you will find 4 major surfing areas: Asturias, Galicia, the Basque Country and Cantabria.
Asturias has a good mix of beach and reef breaks and this area’s highlight is its series of uncrowded river mouth breaks. There are nearly 30 surf spots in Asturias, including the infamous Rodiles (a smaller version of Mundaka), Cueva, Xagó, and El Mongol.
The Basque Country has a great number of setups, many big wave spots, and miles and miles of pristine coastline. The most famous spot in this area is without a doubt Mundaka, a mighty river mouth wave considered to be one of the best lefts of the world. There you will also find the powerful right-hander of Meñakoz. On a good day, these two waves can produce some of the best barrels on the planet.
Cantabria is generally uncrowded compared to the more popular areas, this is a great surfing holiday destination no matter the time of year. Some of the best known surf spots in Cantabria include Somo (with excellent waves for beginners), El Brusco (for intermediate to advanced surfers, with sand-bottomed barrels on big swells), and Isla de Santa Maria (a big wave spot with barrels reaching 12 feet that only works in winter).
In Galicia you will find many beaches facing different directions, meaning you can always have good quality setups no matter the conditions. The water gets quite cold in Galicia, so thick wetsuits are needed in winter. The most popular wave in Galicia is Pantin, a powerful beach break that produces great barrels in the winter and beginner/intermediate waves in summer. Other famous waves are Playa de Razo, Playa de Malpica and Matadeiro.
Main Surfing Areas in Spain
There’s a reason many of Spain’s surf schools are set in the Canary Islands. Located off the coast of the Sahara, this charming archipelago enjoys a seemingly endless summer and is full of fantastic surfing spots. Some of the best known are The Spanish Left in Tenerife, The Bubble in Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote’s Morro Negro.
Most travelers come here to surf between September and April, when Europe is cold and the swells are big. Both beginners and experienced riders will find great waves here.
Book your surf camp in Spain’s Canary Islands, or discover its many secluded islets with less crowded, intimate waves.
> Read more about surfing in the Canaries on the Canarias surfguide.
The Spanish North Coast
The huge north coast welcomes majestic Atlantic swells with varied breaks and one of the most consistent surfing experiences in Europe. As such, this area houses some of the best surf camps in Spain.
With a good mix of beach and reef breaks, this area’s highlight is its series of uncrowded river mouth breaks. In summer, when the N/E winds come, there are still many breaks that work thanks to the west-facing beaches. There are nearly quality 30 surf spots in Asturias, include the infamous Rodiles (a smaller version of Mundaka), Cueva, Xagó, and El Mongol.
While surfing in Cantabria, you’ll encounter good reef breaks and quality beach breaks, which are great in the smaller to medium-sized swells of summer. Generally uncrowded compared to the more popular areas, this is a great surfing holiday destination no matter the time of year.
Some of the best known surf spots in Cantabria include Somo (with excellent waves for beginners), El Brusco (for intermediate to advanced surfers, with sand-bottomed barrels on big swells), and Isla de Santa Maria (a big wave spot with barrels reaching 12 feet that only works in winter).
The Basque Country
When you think about Spain surfing holidays, you probably think the Basque Country.
This region has the greatest number of setups, many big wave spots, and miles and miles of coastline. The summer suffers through a lot of flat spells, but in winter this is the center of Spanish surfing.
The Basque Country is home to Mundaka (a mighty river mouth wave considered to be one of the best lefts of the world) and the powerful right called Menakoz. On a good day, these two waves can produce some of the best barrels on the planet.
The many beaches in Galicia face every direction, meaning you can find good quality setups no matter the conditions. As this area is somewhat less popular, you’ll find less crowded waves here than the other regions in Spain.
The water gets quite cold in Galicia, so thick wetsuits are needed in winter. This is a great summer destination that handles medium swell quite well, but not a great area for catching big waves.
The most popular wave in Galicia is Pantin, a powerful beach break that produces great barrels in winter and beginner/intermediate waves in summer.
Better known for its kitesurfing, this region has plenty of nooks and crannies, and gets its fair share of waves despite being somewhat shadowed from swell by Portugal. To get this area pumping, you need a big low pressure swell from the south. Waves are typically found on the Atlantic coast, from Cadiz to Tarifa.
You’ll find some pretty decent waves here, including Barbate (a left rivermouth), Canos De Meca (a long left-hand reef break) and El Palmar, with waves reaching up to 3-4ft on good days.
The Mediterranean Coast
Although Spain’s Mediterranean Coast is not known for its surf, the region can actually have some pretty good swell. The area has a lot of breaks, and the best time to go is between October and April.
The surfing season in Catalonia begins in September and ends around May. You’ll find some spots like Barcelona hosting powerful and crowded beach break which starts breaking at around 2ft and handling up to 8ft on its best days. Another good wave named Río Besos has a decent right-hand point break.
Surfing has increased in popularity here in recent years, so you’ll find more surf camps than before. The peak surf season runs from September till the end of October, and the region features quite a variety of waves. Good spots include El Saler (which handles bigger swells and on a good day can pump out some of the best barrels around), Cullera (with strong and hollow waves at the mouth of the Jucar) and the reefs near Alicante.
What Is Your Traveling Style?
Budget Surfing in Spain
If you are on a budget, surf camps in Spain are a great option. For a fairly reasonable price, you’ll have a shared room, basic surf gear and the opportunity to surf all day long. You’ll meet new friends from all over the world and have an epic surfing holiday.
Options for budget travelers include cheaper camping sites, surf hostels, shared or private surf houses and surf camps that can be enjoyed with your friends or other surf travelers. If you need a little bit more privacy, you can typically get your own room. There are also some higher-end camps that include B&B, a la carte menus and other luxury amenities like swimming pools and game rooms. With the many surf camps in Spain catering to all sorts of surfers (from beginner to advanced), all you have to do is choose your region and budget, and then book accommodations accordingly..
Prices range from around 25€ to 150€ a night per person. Surf lessons and guiding are often included, as well as basic surf equipment and meals (generally breakfast).
Kids’ and Teen Surf Camps
For parents who want their kids to learn how to surf safely, kids’ and teen surf camps are a great option. They’ll make friends from all around the world while learning proper technique, how to understand tides and read sets, how to assess wind conditions, the different types of waves, and much more, all in the safest way possible with certified instructors and total supervision, 24 hours a day.
For those who are interested, surf schools offer other fun and engaging activities, such as SUP and windsurfing, snorkeling, beach volleyball, yoga and language classes like English and Spanish, all with qualified instructors. Teen camps in Spain include healthy and nutritious full-board meals, with options for different dietary needs such as gluten-free and vegetarian.
Trips range from 3 to 15 days, with prices range from 30€ a night for a simple yet fun and fulfilling surf holiday to 100€ a night for a more complete experience, including different activities, video sessions and guided surf lessons.
Check out teen surf camps and schools in Spain now.
Meal price range
An average meal ranges from 6 to 12€ in a normal local restaurant (paellas from 11€).
Surfboard rentals in Spain start at 10€/hr, with daily rentals ranging from 20 to 60€. A wetsuit/surfboard combo is around 45€/day, but depending on quality prices can be as high as 80€/day. You can often get discounts for monthly rentals.
Prepaid SIM cards
You can buy a sim card from Movistar, Vodafone, Orange and Yoigo, all of which offer prepaid cards and plans. These are usually available in stores, supermarkets, drug stores and airports. For credit, there are prepaid card machines and vouchers in stores. The best bargain is Orange’s sim card for €15, as you get 4GB at 4G+ speed, and 400 minutes to mobiles and landlines in most of Europe, the UK, Canada, and the United States. A cheaper option is Mundo's 1GB package at €7, with international calls at one cent per minute.
Bus (autobús) services work really well in all major cities in Spain. Buses usually are the most inexpensive and common form of public transport in Spain and many coastal towns are easily accessed by bus. Alsa is the biggest company in the country and usually has comfortable buses and also the best fares.
If you are looking for a bit more freedom when moving around in Spain, you can rent a car for as lows as 5€ per day for a Ford Focus and as low as 12€ for a Volkswagen Polo. Known car rentals include FairCarHire, Budget, Hertz, National, and Alamo.
Types of risks
Spain hosts some of the biggest waves in the world (like Meñakoz), which can be extremely dangerous and reserved for the most experienced surfers only. For the rest of the country, common sense applies regarding sharp reefs, building swells, rip tides, and the surfer's ability. Natural disasters like forest fires occur frequently in Spain and its islands during the summer months, so make sure to put out cigarettes properly. When camping, don’t light barbecues unless you have asked if it is allowed, and don’t leave empty bottles behind. Causing a forest fire in Spain is treated as a criminal offense. In case of a fire, call the emergency services at 112.
How to prepare
You don’t need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days. Just bring your passport with six months validity beyond your intended stay, and a round trip/onward ticket.
No vaccines are mandatory in Spain. You may choose to get tetanus shots if you intend to venture into the wilderness for trekking and other activities, but this is optional.
Things to know
Language & Currency
It should come as no surprise that Spanish people speak Spanish. English is not well spoken outside of cities, but people in tourism and hospitality will be able to communicate in English easily. The local currency is the euro.
Best time to go
Summer is best for beginners and intermediate surfers due to its great weather and mild waves. The best time to surf in Spain for intermediate and experienced surfers is from autumn through spring.
Checking Surf forecast
Checking the forecast about a week before your trip is always a good idea. Understanding what the waves will be like and knowing what gear to pack is essential. You can check the forecast for the waves here.
Do I need pack a pharmacy kit
You should bring a basic kit. Including ear drops, eye drops, bandaids, imodium- for rehydrating Bali belly, ear plugs to avoid ear infections, gaze, alcohol, and broad spectrum antibiotic ointment.
World Nomads has great travel insurance packages that are not super expensive and they cover surfing.
In case of any emergency in Spain you should call 112 (with no area code). Emergency personnel speak many languages, and it is also possible to fax or SMS. You can reach 112 on a mobile phone without a Spanish SIM card. You can also call the following services directly. The Maritime Sea Rescue’s number is 900 202 202. For ambulance and health emergencies, call 061. To reach the fire brigade, call 080. And for the local police, call 092.
Check out surfing pictures of Spain at #surfespaña.