The Basque Country coastline runs for around 200 kilometres along northern Spain and the southwestern corner of France, and its excellent swell, makes it one of the best areas for surfing in Europe. The surf season here starts in autumn and lasts through the winter, so now is the time to be looking for those top spots to hit the waves. Here are some of our favourites.
Mundaka is located inside the UNESCO Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, around 38 kilometres north east of Bilbao. A cute little town, surfers come from all over the world just to try out its world famous surf. Home to the longest left hand wave in the world, Mundaka even holds the annual Billabong Pro surf competition. There are a few surf schools here for those who want to brush up on their skills too.
Zurriola Beach is one of San Sebastian‘s three beaches, and is best for city centre surfing with lots of big swell and plenty of facilities such as surf schools and rental places. It’s great if you don’t want to have to travel far for the surf and don’t mind sharing the sands with other tourists and locals alike.
Zarautz is a small town located around 24 kilometres from San Sebastian, with a vast wide beach that measures two and a half kilometres long. It’s called ‘the queen of the beaches’ because Queen Isabella II of Spain used to come here for here vacations in the 19th century. The swell is big and it’s popular with surfers from all over the world, hosting a number of world surfing championships.
La Salvaje near Sopelana means ‘the wild one’, and it certainly is, with its huge waves and natural windswept beach. It lies a half an hour metro ride from the city of Bilbao, so is a great place to combine both city and surf. The beach in natural and has very few amenities though, so head to nearby Sopelana Beach for bars and cafes.
Meñakoz can be found north of Bilbao, and is perfect for those who seek solitude and silence (save for the sound of giant waves crashing along the shore). And they truly are giant – in winter the waves can reach up to five or six metres high, making them some of the biggest in Europe. Due to the nature of the waves here, this one is expert surfers only. You may have to share the sand and rocky shoreline with a few nudist bathers, but that’s a small price to pay for some of Europe’s best surf conditions.
Crossing over the border into the French side of the Basque Country, Biarritz is a much-loved surf destination, which is known throughout the world. There are various surf beaches close to Biarritz, from the famous Grand Plage in the centre of the city to La Côte des Basques and Le Miramar on either side. The swell is good here year round, but particularly great around May and June and September and October. There are plenty of surf schools in Biarritz for beginners too.
Another famous French Basque surf spot is Anglet, which lies just to the north of Biarritz. The area has a whopping 4.5 kilometres of beaches, just perfect for hitting the surf. It’s more natural than the beaches of Biarritz, with few facilities and vast wild stretches.