Surfing in Spain: a Guide to The 12 Best Waves

The Iberian Peninsula is home to some of the sweetest surfing spots in Europe. With almost 3100 miles (5000 kilometers) of coastline (the Canary Islands included), Spain is renowned for its rich culture, gripping history, scrumptious food, and let’s not forget, world-class surfing.

If you’re planning a surfing trip to Spain, make sure you visit the Atlantic coastline, all 441 miles (710 kilometers) of it, instead of the Mediterranean coast. Even though there are a few surfing spot on the eastern side of Spain, swells aren’t nearly as consistent as they are on the northwestern coast.

The weather in Spain is warm and pleasant all year and dry during winter months, which makes it a popular cold-water surfing destination. You will find world-class river mouths, which aren’t all that easy to come by, a great variety of waves for all levels of surfers, and uncrowded spots worth exploring.

Please note that while it’s true that surfing in Spain is possible all year round, it is during colder months that the Atlantic Ocean shows its true colors – the beaches are anything but calm between September and April. During summer months, beginner surfers can find plenty of warm-water waves to polish up their skills.

Spain has a great rail network with dozens of high-speed trains running between major centers. There are also hundreds of regional trains to get you to the more distant corners. A Eurail Spain Pass will give you the freedom to travel a specific number of days over a fixed period, and save you the hassle of looking for the best fares and cheapest routes. Now let’s have a look at the best waves in Spain and when to catch them.

Surfing in Spain

12. Surfing near Barcelona

Photo by Teresa Grau Ros

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to surfing on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Those who wait are in for a treat – south and north of Barcelona, surfers will find an abundance of surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing opportunities.

South of Barcelona surf spots

  • Garraf – A-frame beach break for all levels; uncrowded.
  • El Prat – A-frame beach break; usually crowded.
  • The Cemetery – a favorite spot among longboarders; offers some sweet barrels.

North of Barcelona surf spots

  • Río Besòs – right-hand point break at the mouth of the river Besòs for more advanced surfers; uncrowded.
  • Masnou – left-hand beach break; longest waves in the area.
  • Montgat – A-frame beach break; uncrowded.

Best time to surf: October through March.

Get to Barcelona by train: Barcelona is the country’s most cosmopolitan city, and there are regular international trains passing through Barcelona Sants Train Station.

11. Surfing in Andalusia

Surfing in Spain | Surf near AndalusiaPhoto by Francisco Manuel Esteban

In Southern Spain, opening to both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Andalusia is famous for its strong winds. Therefore, kitesurfing and windsurfing are far more popular in this part than anywhere else in Spain. However, Andalusia has some cool surf spots too, mainly centered on the coast of La Janda, in the province of Cadiz:

  • Los Caños – A-frame reef break for experienced surfers.
  • El Palmar – A-frame sandbar break for all levels.
  • El Castillo – right-hand reef break for experienced surfers.
  • Playa de Los Lances – A-frame beach break for all levels.

Best time to surf in Andalusia: winter and spring.

For kitesurfing and windsurfing, make sure you visit Tarifa and Cadiz, two of the best wind spots in Europe.

Best time for kitesurfing/windsurfing in Andalusia: winds are strong all year-round, but prime time is between May and October when the water is warm and the days are long.

How to get to Andalusia by train: The Seville Santa Justa Train Station is the third busiest train station in Spain and connects Seville to the whole of Andalusia through regular domestic trains.

10. Playa de Somo – consistent beach break (all levels)

Surfing in Spain | Playa de SomoPhoto by Photo by Mariia V. (SwD)

If you’re looking for the perfect surf beach in Spain, you can’t go wrong with Playa de Somo. The quiet surf town of Somo, close to Cantabria region’s capital city Santander, is home to one of the country’s longest beach breaks, excellent for beginners and intermediates. Playa de Somo is a swell magnet, and the consistent beach break here produces A-frame waves up to 6 ft (1.8 m). There are also surf shops, campsites, surf schools, bars and restaurants to chill in the evening.

Best time to surf: November through April; can get very crowded during the summer season.

How to get to Playa de Somo by train: There are regular trains from Bilbao to Santander. Playa de Somo is right across the bay from Santander.

9. Roca Puta – one of the best big waves in the world (advanced surfers)

Surfing in Spain | Surfing in Spain

Near Zarautz in Basque Country, Roca Puta is an internationally renowned powerful right-hand wave. If you haven’t already guessed what its name means, let me spell it for you: Roca Puta means “Slut Rock”. It surely is the most indelicately named big wave in the world. According to well-traveled surfers, it is also one of the best.

Surrounded by picturesque hills, the 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) beach at Roca Puta attracts experienced surfers with its high-performance peaks. The heavy right-hand waves here break in shallow water close to the rocks, which makes the place pretty darn extreme.

Best time to surf: October through April.

How to get to Roca Puta by train: There are regular domestic trains between Bilbao and San Sebastian, and they stop in Zarautz on their way.

8. Isla de Santa Marina (intermediate to experts)

Surfing in Spain | Isla de Santa MarinaPhoto credit GrindTV.com

The uninhabited island of Santa Marina in Northern Spain is the largest of the Cantabrian islands. Between the island itself and the mainland lies one of Spain’s best right-hand reef breaks. It only starts to work from 5 feet (1.5 meters) upwards and can produce big waves up to 15 ft (4.6 m). It works on all tides, but the rocks on the bottom become a problem at low tides.

The powerful, hollow, world-class waves here have some sweet barreling sections for experienced surfers to play with. Beginners should keep their distance and can head to the nearby beginner-friendly Playa de Somo instead.

Best time to surf: November through April.

How to get to Isla de Santa Marina by train: There are regular trains from Bilbao to Santander. Isla de Santa Marina is right across the bay from Santander.

7. Sopelana – one of Spain’s most popular surfing beaches (all levels)

Surfing in Spain | Dog watching over surfing people in Sopelana, SpainPhoto by maymonides

An alluring surfing beach, Sopelana in Basque Country is home to a wide variety of waves: lefts and rights, some long, others fast and some incredibly hollow. The high-quality A-frame waves here make Sopelana one of the most crowded surfing spots in Spain. Thanks to its popularity, you will find every facility you could think of: surf schools, surf shops, campsites, bars, and restaurants.

This consistent beach break with a mix of sandy and rocky bottoms is only a stone’s throw away from the gnarly waves at Meñakoz, to be discussed further down.

Best time to surf: October through April, on small to medium swells.

How to get to Sopelana by train: Bilbao-Abando Train Station is the main train station in Bilbao, and serves national railway lines, regional rail services and rapid transit systems. Sopelana is only 11 miles (18 km) from Bilbao, and you can hop on a bus to get there.

6. Playa de Razo – perfect A-frame waves (all levels)

Surfing in Spain | Playa de Razo in SpainPlaya de Razo – Photo by Luis Lusco

A big, open beach break where crowds are rarely an issue, Playa de Razo is a great place to sample the surf in Galicia, in the North West of Spain. Galicia is said to have the best surf in Europe, and Playa de Razo’s long stretch of fine white sandy beach is home to numerous sandbanks, which produce a variety of A-frame waves, ideal for all levels.

Thanks to its openness and exposure, consistency guaranteed – even the smallest of swells still produce nice waves. Playa de Razo is one of the best places to learn to surf in Spain, and you will find campsites and surf schools here.

Best time to surf: November through April; September and October are recommended for expert surfers.

How to get to Playa de Razo by train: There are regular trains to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, from Barcelona, Madrid and other parts of Spain, as well as from France and Portugal. From Santiago de Compostela, you can take a bus to Playa de Razo.

5. Playa de Rodiles – Mundaka’s little sister (intermediate to advanced surfers)

Surfing in Spain | Surfing people in Playa de Rodiles, SpainPhoto by Victor Cuervas

In the Asturias region on the northwestern coast of Spain, Playa de Rodiles is confined by steep cliffs dropping straight into the Atlantic Ocean. Against this stunning backdrop, a world-class rivermouth wave awaits experienced surfers. Shorter than the famous Mundaka, this left-hand hollow wave reaches over 10 ft (3 m) on its good days and is just as fun.

Due to the strong rips, this surf spot in recommended for intermediate to advanced surfers. Famous for its difficult surf and quite popular among locals, Playa de Rodiles can get crowded.

Best time to surf: November through April.

How to get to Playa de Rodiles by train: There are regular trains from Madrid to Gijón, and the journey takes four and a half hours. From Gijón, take a bus to Playa de Rodiles.

4. El Brusco – one of Spain’s best beach breaks (intermediate to pro surfers)

Surfing in Spain | Surfing in El Brusco

Photo by NikoMC

The Spanish cousin of the world-class Supertubos break in Portugal, El Brusco produces epic right and left barrels. During summer months, Noja in the Cantabria region in Northern Spain is a lively beach resort. During colder months, it becomes a ghost town. However, this does not make it uncrowded – the hollow beach break here is one of Spain’s finest and most sought-after.

Best time to surf: October through April.

How to get to El Brusco by train: There are regular trains from Bilbao to Santander, from where you can take a bus to El Brusco.

3.    Zarautz – Spain’s surfing capital (all levels)

Surfing in Spain | Surfer looking towards the sea in Zarautz, SpainPhoto by Carol Peña

Zarautz is where surfing in Spain took off in the 1960s. Being one of the country’s best all-around surf beaches and Spain’s biggest surf town, Zarautz is a great place to set up your ‘surfing base camp’. Besides the high-quality surf, you will find plenty of surf shops, cafes, bars, and surf schools.

Spain’s culinary capital, San Sebastian, is only a 20 minutes’ drive away, and the world-class Mundaka and Sopelana waves are only an hour’s drive away. The beach breaks with sandy bottoms at Zarautz are becoming more and more popular on the surfing scene and can get pretty crowded. Each year, the sandy beach hosts one of the stages of the European surf circuit – Pro Zarautz.

Best time to surf: October through April.

How to get to Zarautz by train: You’ll be pleased to find that there are regular international trains to San Sebastian. There are two train stations in San Sebastian: RENFE for international and local trains and Euskotren station for domestic trains. There are also overnight trains from Paris and Lisbon coming in.

2.    Meñakoz Beach (experts only)

Surfing in Spain | Main, Many surfing at Meñakoz beach in SpainPhoto by Surf 30

In Basque Country, 15 miles (25 km) west of the famous surfing spot at Mundaka and just off the outskirts of Bilbao city, Meñakoz Beach is reserved for big wave surfers only. It earned itself a reputation as a dangerous and extreme surf spot, with strong rips, super-fast vertical drops and razor-sharp rocks on the bottom. Be prepared to get wiped-out.

The gray-pebble beach at Meñakoz is home to a powerful right-hand wave that only starts to break when it reaches 10 ft (3 m). The average height is 18 ft (5.5 m). Despite its notoriety, it is a popular surf spot in Spain and one of the most powerful regularly surfed waves in Europe. Therefore, please make sure you are ready to tackle big waves before entering the water – locals do not tolerate inexperienced surfers here.

Best time to surf: September through April.

How to get to Meñakoz by train: There are national and domestic trains to Bilbao from various parts of Spain. Bilbao’s main train station serves the RENFE rail network, and the Euskotren station has regular trains to local destinations.

1. Mundaka – Spain’s most famous wave (intermediate to advanced surfers)

Surfing in Spain | Surfer in Mundaka , SpainPhoto by Joseba Barrenetxea

The sleepy medieval village of Mundaka attracts surfers form all over the world. The fast and hollow left-hand barrel here is one of the world’s best rivermouth waves. Some think it is the best left-hand wave in Europe. To make it even more special, the take-off point overlooks an 11th century church. Can it possibly get any better? Yes, it can!

The long and curved riverbank sandbars at Mundaka produce epic waves around 12 ft (3.6 m) tall and as long as 1,000 ft (300 m). These hollow, fast, epic barreling waves have hosted a number of international surfing competitions and World Tours. On its good days, Mundaka resembles a wave pool, with set after set of hollow waves pushing into the rivermouth that never closes-in. That’s how perfect this break is! The estuary lies within the UNESCO-protected Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, so the water is incredibly clean too.

The take-off and the rides may look easy from the outside, but the strong currents make Mundaka more suitable for intermediate surfers to advanced riders.

Best time to surf: October through April.

How to get to Mundaka by train: The same as for Meñakoz, you can hop on a national train to Bilbao. The Euskotren connects Bilbao to Bermeo, stopping in Mundaka. The trip takes about 70 minutes and there are trains every half an hour during the week between 6 am and 9 pm, and between 7 am and 11 pm during weekends.

Spain has many surf spots, some extremely popular, some unspoiled. We’ve shared with you a guide to the 12 best surfing destinations in the country that you should add to your surf travel itinerary.

This article was originally published by our friends at BookSurfCamps.com.


Excited about surfing in Spain? Read on:
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How To See Spain On A Backpacker’s Budget
5 Overlooked Cities In Spain You Should Make Time For

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