Every surfer has a driving desire to travel. Exploring new surf destinations and scoring amazing waves in foreign locations can change your life. The majority of people associate surfing with the tropical waters of Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Hawaii, therefore they believe these are the places to travel too.
As a student UK surfer, I could never afford to jet-set off to these far-afield destinations. What I have discovered, is that continental Europe offers some world class waves that are easily accessible and affordable. The water is warmer, the food is better, the culture is eye-opening and the waves generally pump! I’ve explored the content for many years, so I’m going to share with you some of my favourite places to surf and hang-out. Enjoy!
Hossegor is one of the most renowned surfing breaks in Europe. Therefore, it is generally packed out with travelling surfers; chilling, partying and packing out the line-ups. There are many world-class beach breaks here that are more suited to the intermediate-advanced surfer.
La Graviere is the most famed French break. Although a beach break, it offers up many dredging rights that will give you lots of tube-time in the right conditions. Timed wrong, and you will get a heavy close-out on your head and stumble up the beach with a broken ego, so be careful!
Santa Cruz (Portugal)
Santa Cruz seems to be a favoured name for classic surf destinations and the one in Portugal is no different. Located to the south of Supertubos, this is a wave more suited to beginners.
Breaking over sand, with the odd rock to watch out for, this break is excellent for intermediates looking to hone in the board riding skills. It picks up most west and north west swells and is excellent in little to no wind.
The area is popular with vacationing Portuguese so it can get busy, but there are plenty of places to surf in the area. This is an area of natural beauty, the cliffs and the entire costal region are simply stunning and the weather in the summer is just perfect — although the surf can be a little hit or miss at this time. Rent a car and explore the area for more great surf beaches.
San Sebastian- (Zurriola)
When you’re not getting wet, the city of San Sebastian will take your breath away. This is a truly unique city with a rich Basque culture, marvellous architecture, entertaining locals and a thriving surf scene. To travel to San Sebastian you have two options, Biarritz (just over the border in France) or Bilbao. Both are highly accessible and, at the right time of the year (especially in the surf season), you can bag yourself a cheap return flight from the UK.
Zurriola is the main surfing beach in San Sebastian. This quality beach-break works best in small-medium sized north west swells which travel down the Atlantic and focus their energy into this corner of the world. It’s a very accessible beach for all levels, although, at size it should be avoided by beginners. At low tide in medium sized conditions, a fun little left hander can wedge off the harbour wall.
For cheap accommodation stay at Olga’s Place. A dorm style hostel full of travelling surfers and young backpackers. Located just a hop, skip and jump from this brilliant surf break, you can get in before the crowds begin to congregate. Olga and her husband are wonderful hosts, and will take you out for ‘Spain’s best Paella’ with free Sangria!
Zurriola is located in the heart of San Sebastian. Being a large cosmopolitan city, you can only begin to imagine the extent of the local’s competitiveness. But however competitive, they are extremely friendly and the usage of some general surf etiquette will see you being called into waves by the excited local lads.
Europeans are generally welcoming to travelling surfers, but show respect and you will be respected. Although English is widely spoken, a phrase-book for each country will put food in your belly and save you from a sticky situation. Most of the waves are more powerful than those at home so be careful and watch for rip currents. Camping throughout Europe is an excellent, budget means of travelling. Sample the local delights and nightlife.
When Ben isn’t travelling or surfing Europe you’ll find him lacing up the latest and greatest skate shoes at Nucleus surf shop, who are also leading providers of Skullcandy headphones and Nike snowboard boots.