Who is the No. 1 Surf Nation?

When you think of surfing, where do you think of? Although most people will say the USA’s Californian coast, Hawaii or even Australia, do these nations produce the most top surfers? Which country is the number 1 surf nation?

With the population of Brazil over 8000% bigger that of French Polynesia, it’s hardly fair to compare the two. Whilst everyone knows Hawaii and Australia often feature high on the leaderboard, we want to know who really is the best pound for pound surf nation!

How did we calculate it? After calculating the total number of points awarded to each nation on both the men’s and women’s 2017 World Surf League Championship Tour, we divided it by the nation’s total population. After doing the maths, this gave us the ranking figure of population per World Surf League 2017 Championship Tour point and in turn, the best pound for pound surf nation.

Surf waves

Who do you think took the top spot? Let’s find out…

The Top 13 Pound for Pound Surf Nations

13. Spain

Population: 45,560,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 500

Population per World Surf League Point: 93,120
Boasting some of the best surf spots in Europe, we were surprised to find out Spain failed to make it into the top 10 surf nations. Represented by only one surfer, Aritz Aranburu came 25th in the Billabong Pro Teahupoo 2017, earning Spain just 500 points. Despite its low score, we strongly recommend Spain to anyone looking to try surfing in Europe, with the likes of Mundaka, San Sebastian and Zarautz amongst our favourite spots.

12. Japan

Population: 127,000,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 1,750

Population per World Surf League Point: 72,571
Like Spain, Japan was only represented by one surfer on the 2017 Championship Tour and failed to climb into the top 10 surf nations in the world. Achieving 13th place at the Hurley Pro at Trestles, Hiroto Ohhara was the only Japanese surfer to qualify for the 2017 Men’s Championship Tour. With such a huge population, Japan will have to climb the World League Leaderboard if it wants to be known as the number 1 surf nation.

11. Italy

Population: 60,600,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 18,700

Population per World Surf League Point: 3,240
Although Italy performed significantly better than Spain and Japan, the 10 top surfing nations remained out of reach. Represented by Leonardo Fioravanti in all 11 2017 Men’s Championship Tour events, Italy had an inconsistent performance on the Tour, with positions ranging from 5th to 25th.

10. Fiji

Population: 898,760

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 500

Population per World Surf League Point: 1,797
Obtaining 25th place in the Fiji Pro 2016, Tevita Gukilau was Fiji’s only surfer in the 2017 Men’s Championship Tour. Although Fiji is surrounded by spectacular surf spots, Gukilau finished the World Men’s Championship Tour in 45th, a position shared with several nations including Spain. Despite this performance, Fiji made it into the top 10 surf nations thanks to its small population size.

9. USA

Population: 325,700,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 353,060

Population per World Surf League Point: 922
Home to the 11-time World Surf League Champion, it’s obvious that the USA has a serious surf community. Represented by 6 surfers in the Men’s Tour, Kolohe Andino gave the best performance, obtaining an overall position of 7th. 4 female surfers also competed in the Women’s Championship Tour, with Courtney Conlogue achieving an overall position of 4th. Despite these places, the sheer size of the USA prevented from climbing higher than 9th in the top surf nations.

8. South Africa

Population: 55,910,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 98,700

Population per World Surf League Point: 566
Claiming an overall 4th place in the 2018 Men’s Championship Tour, South Africa managed to reach 8th in the worlds top surf nations. Represented by 3 surfers on the Tour, the true star of the nation is Jordy Smith, who claimed victory at the Rip Curl Pro 2017. South Africa was also represented in the women’s Tour, with Bianca Buitendag reaching 17th place overall.

7. France

Population: 66,900,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 137,800

Population per World Surf League Point: 485
Boasting some of the most consistent surf spots in Europe, it isn’t a surprise that France reached number 7 in the top surf nations ranking. Although Jeremy Flores claimed victory in the final event of the World Surf League, the Billabong Pipeline Masters 2017, his performance was too inconsistent to help France break into the top 5. Other representation came from Johanne Defay who achieved 9th place, Pauline Ado who gained 16th place, Maud Le Car in 20th place Joan Duru who achieved an overall position of 21st and Marc Lacomare who achieved 37th place.

6. Brazil

Population: 207,700,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 443,290

Population per World Surf League Point: 468
A true leader in international surfing, Brazil’s huge population prevents the nation from entering into the top 5 of surf nations. Represented by 3 surfers in the top 10 of the Men’s Championship Tour, it is clear that Brazil is a nation that takes surfing extremely seriously. Although the nation achieved 5 titles during the Men’s Tour, Silvana Lima was the only female surfer to represent Brazil and achieved an overall position of joint 12th on the Tour following victory at Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles 2017.

5. New Zealand

Population: 4,693,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 13,860

Population per World Surf League Point: 338
Represented by a solo female surfer in the Women’s Championship Tour, New Zealand’s relatively low population helped it secure a top 5 position in the top surf nations. Obtaining 13th place in the Rip Curl Pro 2017, Ella Williams finished an overall combined position of 23 in the Championship Tour.

4. Portugal

Population: 10,320,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 34,950

Population per World Surf League Point: 295
Arguably the home of European Surf, Portugal’s presence in the top 5 helps to establish the country as a must-visit location for any keen surfer. Represented by two surfers in the Men’s Championship Tour, Frederico Morais achieved an overall position of 14th, coming 2nd in the J-Bay Open 2016. The nation was also represented on the Women’s Tour by Teresa Bonvalot who claimed 9th in the Cascais Women’s Pro Portugal 2017. If you’re looking to try the world-class surf spots Portugal offers, we recommend Cascais, Lagos, Peniche and Sagres.

3. Australia

Population: 24,130,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 672,130

Population per World Surf League Point: 35
With 4 of the top 10 surfers in both the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tour coming from Australia, the nation maintains its position as one of the top surf nations. Whilst the men’s tour achieved 3 victories, it is in the Women’s Tour that the nation really showed its dominance, claiming 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall.

2. French Polynesia

Population: 280,208

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 25,450

Population per World Surf League Point: 11
Despite only being represented by a handful of surfers in the World Surf League, French Polynesia is one of the top surfing nations in the world. Whilst Michel Bourez achieved 19th place overall and Taumata Puhetini came in 45th place overall in the Men’s Tour, it is as a result of the relatively small population size that French Polynesia achieves 2nd place in our ranking.

1. Hawaii

Population: 1,428,000

World Surf League Championship Tour 2017 Points: 330,100

Population per World Surf League Point: 4
As many will have guessed, Hawaii is the worlds number 1 surf nation (although Hawaii is technically part of the USA, the WSL recognises it as its own sovereign surfing nation). Home of the sport and the winner of the Men’s Championship Tour 2017, the nation was represented by 7 surfers during the 11 events. In addition, 6 Hawaiian surfers featured in the top 20 of the Women’s Championship Tour, with Carissa Moore achieving the best result of 5th place.

Surfing Tips for Beginners

A bucket-list activity, surfing is becoming an increasingly popular sport in Europe.  The perfect way to enjoy beautiful beaches, with summer quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to learn. Whether you’re having lessons with friends or visiting a surf camp, we’ve shared our top surfing tips for beginners to help you prepare.

Surfer carrying surfboard

Essential Gear for Beginners

Just like any sport, surfing requires specialist equipment. Here are some items you’re going to need:

A Surfboard
It might be obvious but in order to learn how to surf you’re going to need a surfboard. Although you might be tempted to invest in a shorter board as quickly as possible, it’s best to start with a bigger board and reduce the size as your ability progresses. Most beginners opt for foam surfboards, known as ‘foamies’, or ‘soft-tops’ because they’re much comfortable after spending a lot of time sitting on it. Also, make sure your surfboard is fitted with a nose guard to prevent impacts with the surfboard nose (the front edge).

A Surfboard Leash
Preventing you and your board from being separated, a leash is a surfing essential. Although it might feel strange and it will get in your way a few times, take time to get used to it as it is a must-have item.

A Traction Pad
A small pad that you can push against when popping up, traction pads, also known as surf pads, are helpful for beginners to control their board in the surf. Not a necessity as some surfboards already have these built-in.

Available in various shapes, colours and flavours depending on the water temperature you are surfing in, wax helps to give your board grip. Applied to the deck of the surfboard, if you’ve opted for a ‘foamie’ or a ‘soft-top’, you don’t need the worry about this.

Wherever you plan on surfing, some form of wetsuit should be considered. Helping you to surf for longer. If you plan on surfing in cold surf, invest in a winter wetsuit, gloves and wetsuit boots. Whatever option you take, make sure it is properly fitted, so the insulating characteristics work correctly.

Rash Guard
Consider wearing a rash guard to protect yourself against a rubber rash that you would otherwise get on your stomach and chest. Alternatively, wear a vest or t-shirt.

Best Surf Spots in Europe for Beginners

If you are going to successfully learn to surf, it is vital that you choose a suitable beach. It’s important to find a beach with small, good, steady waves so you can practice the technique before upgrading to a more difficult surf spot.

Below are just some of the amazing beginner surf spots Sea-Lifts offer transfers to:

Surf Safety and Etiquette

As a beginner, it’s important to understand the unwritten rules of surf and how to learn safely.

While all good surf schools will help you understand this, here are the essentials:

Surf Safety

  • Beginner surfers should never try and learn by themselves. Whilst you might think you can teach yourself the basics, it can be dangerous, and you risk injuring yourself and others. Instead, have lessons or get an experienced friend to show you the correct technique.
  • Never place your board between yourself and a coming wave. Ensure you stay 15 feet away from others to avoid any collision.
  • Don’t push your board through the water fin first. Made to keep your surfboard pointed correctly, i.e. nose first, pushing the board this way can be quite dangerous.

Surfing Etiquette

  • Surfing waves have a peak which can usually be found in the middle of the wave. The part of the wave that will break first, the surfer closest to this spot will have the best chance of catching the wave first and is awarded the wave by other interested surfers.
  • Never “drop-in” on another surfer, i.e. catching a wave that has been awarded to another surfer. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it can also be seen as disrespect to another surfer.
  • You should always check to see if there is another surfer on your inside before paddling for a wave. You must be 100% sure a surfer is done with a wave before catching it yourself.

Surfing Fitness

Surfing is a physically demanding sport and requires a certain level of fitness in order to be successful. Like most sports, the fitter you are, the easier you will find it and the longer you can stay in the water.

If you are planning a surfing holiday soon, try to add push-ups and burpees to your exercise regime which will help with paddling and pop-ups. Cross training, weight training, intense cardio and yoga are also great workouts for surfing.

Top Surf Tips for Beginners

Before You Get in The Water

  1. Research your surf school carefully and ensure they are experienced. Look for any accreditations and see if insurance is included in the price.
  2. Surfing is physically demanding so you are going to have to refuel. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand and some high energy snacks. If you’re surfing in winter, you may even want to bring a thermos to keep you warm.
  3. Get an understanding of the ocean environment before you try surfing. Whilst good surf schools will teach this, knowing what a rip is and understanding currents, tides and winds will help.
  4. Taking time to find out if you are goofy or natural footed is key to being successful. Whilst some people choose a foot instinctively, others are unsure which foot to put at the front of your surfboard. To test this, see which foot leads when you go down a set of stairs. Whichever foot is first should be placed at the front of your board. If you place your right foot at the front you’re goofy footed, left foot at the front and you’re natural footed.
  5. Once you’re ready to catch a wave, don’t rush into the water straight away. Take time to warm-up, check your equipment and watch the waves to see what others are doing.

In the water

  1. It might sound obvious but start small and build-up. Although you might feel like you have the ability to tackle larger waves, it can be very dangerous to upgrade if you’re not ready.
  2. Another tip that might be common sense to many is to pace yourself. Although you’ll be keen to get going, it’s important not to rush as this can lead to injury.
  3. Make sure you keep your distance from the more advanced surfers. As you’re just learning you will want plenty of space and want to avoid getting in other’s way.
  4. Take time to get comfortable sitting on your board in the water. Although very basic, it’s not the most natural of things.
  5. Paddling is key to surfing success so it is key that you keep practising. Find a rhythm and try to stick to that whilst thinking about your positioning. The best place is in the middle, as too forward and your nose will poke underwater, too far back and you will go too slow.
  6. If a breaking wave is ahead of you, you have two choices: Either duck under it or paddle over it. Whatever you choose, once the wave has broken, you need to stay perpendicular to the whitewater. If you don’t, you’re giving the surf more surface area to pull you under the water and drag you towards shore.
  7. Learn to place your hands correctly when popping up and avoiding holding onto the rails to prevent you from tipping over.
  8. When you catch a wave, make sure you bend your knees and not your back as it’s much easier to keep balance.
  9. Lastly, you need to be prepared to wipe out. Unfortunately, being knocked down by waves is part of learning how to surf and learning how to fall properly will help you stay safe in the water.

We hope this guide has inspired you to plan a surfing holiday and helped you take your surf skills to the next level.

Don’t forget, Sea-Lifts operates at all major European Surf Resorts and offers you the option to add a surfboard as luggage. Sea-Lifts will provide you reliable and hassle-free transfers from the airport to the surf resort. Get an instant quote and book online now!

Top 10 Surf Boards for 2018


A summertime favourite, surfing is becoming one of the most popular beach activities. Although not restricted to the warmer months, there is no denying that the rising temperatures make catching waves more enticing.

Whether you’re just starting to surf or a big-wave pro, everyone has to choose their surfboard. But which one do you choose?

With many factors to consider, choosing the right surfboard for you can be a difficult task. To help make choosing your new surfboard easier, we’ve created a guide for buying a new surfboard and shared our top 10 surfboards for 2018, whatever your ability.


1. The Essential Surf Board Buying Guide


As you’re surfing ability develops, your surfing needs change. Making alternations to the shape, size and weight of a board, companies tailor their designs to specific types of surfer.

Despite these changes, all surfers must consider the same factors when buying a surfboard:

1.1 Surfboard considerations

Surfboard Type & Size

One of the most important characteristics, surfers must decide what board size to buy. The size of the board varies depending on the person and will change as your skill level increases.

As a general guide:

  • Foam Board/ ‘Foamie’ Longboards
    Ideal for beginners learning how to surf, these boards are not suitable for catching bigger waves.
  • Longboards
    Heavier and bulkier than shortboards, longboards are a great alternative to a shortboard and allow you to surf bigger waves.
  • Mini-Mal Surfboards
    Smaller than a longboard, these are good for very small surfers or those who already have a good ability on longboards.
  • Fun Boards ‘Magic Carpets’
    Similar to mini-mals, these work best for wave faces that are knee high to overhead in height.
  • Performance Shortboards
    Fast and response, these boards are perfect for expert surfers.
  • Guns
    Faster and more stable than a shortboard, these are great for catching a powerful wave like those in Nazare or Zarautz. These are not suitable for beginners.


The rocker describes how curved a surfboard is from the nose to the tail.

Affecting both speed and turning, generally:

  • Small rockers are better for flat water and are faster than a large rocker.
  • Large rockers are better for higher waves and have a better turning ability than small rockers.


Rails describe the side of your board and come in various options which determine the width of the deck and the volume of the board.

  • Soft Rails are best for beginners. They also indicate the deck is flatter and the board has a high volume making it easier to paddle and turn.
  • Hard Rails are best for advanced surfers. They’re commonly seen on shorter boards that have less volume and cut into the water.


The main steering mechanism of the board, fins can be permanent or removable.

You can get different fin set-ups including single, tri and quads. Most have three, with two steering the board whilst the third dictates the direction.

Fins also vary in size, angle and flex.

We would advise beginners start with standard fins.


There are two types of board bags surfers can buy:

  • Day to day bags come in different thicknesses and are great for protecting your boards whilst being stored or travelling to the beach.
  • Travel bags are more durable than the day to day bags and are made for air travel or road trips.

Stomp Pad

The stomp pad, also known as the traction pad, helps surfers grip on the board and are great for beginners.

Varying in shape, the will improve your surfing ability and help you get more air on turns.


It is very important to have a leash that connects you and your board.

Some surfboards already come with this feature, which saves a lot of hassle.

There are different types of leash depending on your board:

  • If your board is between 6 feet and 6 feet 10 inches, you will need a 6-foot leash. For boards between 7 foot and 7 feet 10 inches, you will need a 7-inch leash.
  • Thickness varies depending on the waves you surf, but the most common is about ¼” thick. If you surf smaller waves and have a small board, 3/16″ is best, which a bigger board in bigger waves will require a 5/16″ leash.

1.2 Surfer considerations

Surfer Skill

Depending on your ability, you will need different amounts of stability.

Beginners should look at boards with a large volume, between 7 – 8-foot-long, 3 inches thick and a minimum of 22 inches wide. They should also consider soft top boards as they float much easier.


Surfboards that have a smaller surface area require a higher level of fitness. These boards tend to have better manoeuvrability and less drag.

Boards that have a larger surface area will experience an easier ride.

Height & Weight

You should consider your height and weight when buying a new board.

Heavier & Taller surfers require boards with a higher volume (represent in litres) which also increases the size of the board.

1.3 Surf Considerations

Wave Type

The type of wave you plan to surf should also be considered when deciding which board to choose.

Waves of different heights act very differently, just as surfing in different depths of water is.

Essentially this relies on your experience and the more you surf, the more knowledge you will have.

2. Top 10 Surf Boards 2018

2.1 Best Surf Boards for Beginners

Greco Surf 7ft Performance Soft Top Foamboard

Perfect in all conditions, the Greco Surf 7ft Performance Soft Top Foamboard offers plenty of versatility. Featuring an epoxy core and a fibreglass shell, the board has a rigid lightweight feel that is easy to manoeuvre in the water. It also comes with a 7-foot leash, so you won’t have the hassle of fitting one yourself.

Wavestorm 8 ft Soft Foam Construction Classic Surfboard

Ideal for beginners, the Wavestorm Soft Foam Construction Classic Surfboard has extra volume and length to make wipeouts a little kinder. Featuring a strong EPS core, the board has a traction pad and a removable ankle leash for added convenience.

Surftech “Friendly Fish” Foam Surfboard

Available in any length from 5 foot 6 inches to 10 foot, the Surftech “Friendly Fish” Foam Surfboard is one of the best selling surfboards on the market. Featuring soft board technology that has been perfected over the last 20 years, it is extremely durable and includes an ankle leash and removable fins.

Golf Coast 8ft 8inch Heritage Soft Top Surfboard

A great length for beginners, the Golf Coast 8-foot 8-inch Heritage Soft Top Surfboard will be appreciated by surfers of all levels. Featuring a round nose and rubber tipped tail, the sleek frame is easy to manoeuvre and catches waves smoothly.

2.2 Best Surf Boards for Intermediates

Channel Islands Mini Surfboard 5ft 3inch FCS II – White

One of the best boards on the market, Channel Islands Mini Surfboard 5ft 3 FCS II has an incredible feed. Featuring a small rocker and a five fin setup with a squash tail, it combines control with an outstanding paddle speed that is best enjoyed in knee to head high surf.

Raystreak 7ft 2inch Crocodile Groove Soft Surfboard Beach Ocean Surfing Body Foamie Board

With extra padding around the nose and tail, the Raystreak Crocodile Groove Soft Surfboard is long-wearing and perfect for advancing your surfing skills. Featuring a lightweight fibreglass core, the board has been reinforced with stringers and sealed with epoxy to ensure maximum durability.

Gold Coast 8ft Verve Surf Board

Combining stability with performance, the Gold Coast 8ft Verve Surf Board an ideal board for taking your surfing ability to the next level. Great in any conditions, the board is created through a Mold and Vacuum Sealed process to give it extra strength and durability. In addition, the tri-fin system will let you ride the Verve with multiple configurations.

2.3 Best Surf Boards for Experts

Surftech ThumbDrive HD-E Surfboard

Best suited for light riders or those who like a small board, the Surftech ThumbDrive HD-E Surfboard has one of the highest durability ratings. Featuring a lightweight EPS core and a five fin set up, this board is extremely thin and is easy to keep in a straight line on the waves.

BIC Sport ACE-TEC Surfboard

30% stronger than traditional surfboards, the BIC Sport ACE-TEC Surfboard has been designed to be a lightweight, durable and high-performing board. Featuring a three fin set up that enables you to ride any type of wave, the board comes in a range of sizes so everyone can enjoy it!

Boardworks 5ft 6inch Poly Mini Mod 2 Surfboard

A great option for those looking to make the most out of every ride, the Boardworks 5ft 6 inch Poly Mini Mod 2 Surfboard is one of the most versatile boards around. Featuring a wide tail to give you a large footprint, the board can reach top speeds in calm water. Fitted with a five box fin setup, it is easy to manoeuvre and gives the surfer ultimate control.

We hope this guide has helped you understand what to look for when buying a new surfboard and given you some inspiration for your new 2018 ride.

If you’re planning a surf holiday this year, get a quote for your surf-holiday transfer now! Sea-Lifts will transport you from the airport to top surf resorts with the option of adding your surfboard as luggage.

Contribute to Our Blog!

Typing on Laptop

Want to share your passion for surfing or scuba diving with our community? You can get published on the Sea-Lifts blog!

We’re always looking for new authors who want to share information about various topics relevant to surfing or scuba diving travel. Through our blog, we aim to contribute to the growth and development of the global surfing and scuba communities by sharing useful information on scuba/surf resorts, personal stories, interviews with pro surfers, news, as well as a variety of articles on surf/scuba gear, equipment, accessories, and all-around sea sports travel. We welcome you to be a part of this continuous goal!

By contributing to our blog, you will be able to make your voice heard and share your experience and expertise with surf/scuba communities and avid travellers worldwide. Should you have any suggestions about our blog or our site, please feel free to let us know! Whenever possible, we’ll do our best to respond and implement your ideas in a timely manner.

If you’d like to see your work posted on our site, pitch your ideas to n.dugal@sea-lifts.com. Follow the guidelines below and we’ll reply within 3 (three) days.

Ready to create and submit your content? Follow these 4 easy steps:

1. Choose a category for your article/blog post.

  • Surf/Scuba Tips e.g. The Top 10 Surf Boards for 2018 etc.
  • Surf/Scuba News
  • Surf/Scuba Travel Destinations e.g. Sea-Lifts guide to surfing in Spain etc.
  • Surf/Scuba Travel Destinations Top Lists e.g. Top 10 Dives Sites in Malta etc.
  • Surf/Scuba Resort Tips e.g. 10 Things Not to Do in a Surf Resort etc.
  • Surf/Scuba Personal Stories e.g.: How Surfing Changed My Life, etc.

Feel free to share any new ideas with us!

2. Create an article/blog post that meets the guidelines.


Please keep your article between 800 to 1,500 words (including image captions and title).

Note: With the permission of the author, Sea-Lifts would require the right to edit the submitted guest article/blog post as necessary.


Provide 5 clear, hi-resolution pictures;

  • Pictures should be related to the topics discussed in the article itself;

Format: JPEG/JPG/;

  • List image sources (to avoid copyright infringement). Please submit caption and image credit.

Include links within the article/ post:

  • The article or blog post should contain a maximum of 3 links.
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  • The links should always benefit or add value for readers. They should fit in context and provide with relevant/useful information.
  • For businesses/companies/websites that do not directly compete with Sea-Lifts, a link to the site’s or blog’s homepage is allowed.

3. Include an author’s bio.

Before you send your article, please be sure to also include a brief bio/boilerplate about the author. This excerpt will be posted on the bottom of the published article/blog post.

E.g. Nathan is a writer for Sea-Lifts, a transfer website which specialises in airport transfers to ports and resorts across Europe & the Red Sea. He is also a passionate traveller, keen beginner surfer and food lover.

4. Sharing to website/blog and social media.

Once published, Sea-Lifts will share your article/blog post on its social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest & Instagram).

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Sea-Lifts Guide to Surfing in Northern Spain

Whilst sun worshipers head automatically head to southern Spain, it’s the northern regions that have long been at the top of any keen surfer’s bucket list.

Featuring over 400 miles of Atlantic coastline, northern Spain is a surfer’s paradise, with the Basque country featuring 27 surf spots alone!  Littered with a variety of setups, there is a surf spot to suit everyone.

Whether you are looking for an introduction to surfing or thinking of ticking Spain off your surfing bucket list, read our guide to discover the world-class waves of northern Spain. 

Surfer in Spain

When to Surf in Spain

Enjoying a mild climate all year round, Spain is a great holiday destination whenever you decide to visit.

Although the surf in Spain is also great all year round, the surf conditions vary dramatically. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, some of Spain’s best surf spots experience contrasting conditions transforming the beaches from beginner-friendly to experts-only.

December to March

The coldest months of the year, temperatures average around 12 degrees Celsius. During this period, most of the surf camps and surf schools are closed and crowds are at a minimum. Waves are at their most aggressive between December to March, with the swell at its most powerful.

Water temperatures average around 12 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius so a winter wetsuit is advised, along with glove and booties depending on the surf spot visited and how cold you get.

June to September

Thanks to its mild climate, summers in northern Spain average between 20 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the spectacular Picos do Europa mountain range, clouds are prevented from disappearing quickly, resulting in more rain than other regions.

Water temperatures average around 18 degrees in summer, letting you surf in just a light wetsuit or shorts.

Where to Surf in Spain

Surfboard on a Spanish beach


Known as one of Spain’s best surf spots and one the world’s top river mouth wavesMundaka is an iconic location that every surfer should visit. Lying within the UNESCO-protected Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, with a take-off point that overlooks an 11th Century church, Mundaka is internationally renowned and has featured on the World Tour, Capable of producing pristine barrelling lefts up to 12 ft tall, Mundaka can sometimes resemble a wave park so powerful are its waves. When it’s working, this surf spot should not be attempted by beginners, but it’s worth visiting just to watch the big wave riders.

Best For Intermediate to Expert Surfers.

When to Visit Between October to April. Summer tends to be mostly flat.

Best Around low tide when the tide is falling, with a swell angle from the northwest and wind direction from the south.

Surf Spots Nearby

  • Isla de Izaro
    An inconsistent reef break located 2km from Mundaka, Isla de Izaro is rarely crowded and offers right-handed waves.
  • Playa de Laida
    Located 2km away from Mundaka, Playa is an exposed river break that is best experienced during the summer.
  • Playa de Laga
    Playa de Laga is an exposed beach break that provides both lefts and rights and is located 3km away from Mundaka.
  • Guibeleco
    A fairly consistent point break, Guibelco is located 4km from Mundaka and works all year round.
  • Bakio
    A reliable beach break that can work at any time of the year, Bakio is located 8km from Mundaka and tends to be crowded when the surf is good.

Getting there Transfers from Bilbao Airport to Mundaka take approximately 30 minutes.

San Sebastian

One of the top culinary cities of Europe, San Sebastian is a city surfing destination that is perfect for those who want to have as much fun on land as they do in the sea. Surrounded by La Concha and La Zurriola, the destination is ideal for beginners and intermediates, and thanks to the flow of the Bay of Biscay, the water stays warm throughout the summer. Surrounded by the impressive Monte Ijeldo and Monte Urgull mountains, it’s the perfect place to learn how to surf.

Best For City Surfing

When to Visit September to March

Surf Spots Nearby 

  • Playa de Gros (La Zurriola)
    An exposed beach breach that works all year round, La Zurriola offers both left and right-hand waves.
  • La Concha
    Located 2km from San Sebastian, La Concha is somewhat of an inconsistent beach break that is often crowded.
  • Playa de Ondarreta
    An inconsistent point break located 4km from San Sebastian, Playa de Ondarreta is best experienced during the winter months and is likely to be crowded if working.
  • Orio
    Playa de Ondarreta is an exposed beach/jetty/rivermouth break that is located 8km from San Sebastian and is best experienced during the autumn months.

Getting there Transfers from Biarritz Airport to San Sebastian take approximately 45 minutes.


Featuring a 3km long beach that runs parallel to the boardwalk, Zarautz is a hugely popular surf spot that caters to all abilities. Host to a World Championship event each September, it features amazing breaks and numerous peaks. Although it can get crowded and competitive, it’ needs hardly any swell to work, helping it produce consistent surf all year round. In addition to great surf, the beach has fantastic facilities such as surf schools, showers and lifeguards, helping to establish it as one of the best places to surf in Spain.

Best For everyone!

When to Visit October to April

Surf Spots Nearby 

  • Zarautz
    An exposed beach break with very reliable surf, Zarautz is best during the summer months.
  • Karramarro
    Located 2km away from Zarautz, Karramarro is an inconsistent exposed point break that produces a left-hand point break.
  • Orio
    Orio is an exposed beach/jetty/rivermouth break that is best experienced during autumn and located 4km away from Zarautz.
  • Play de Gaztetape
    An exposed beach break, Playa de Gaztetape is 4km away from Zarautz and produces both lefts and rights.
  • Orrua
    Located 5km away from Zarautz, Orrua is an exposed reef break that is best during autumn and winter.

Getting there Transfers from Biarritz Airport to Zarautz take approximately 55 minutes.

We hope this guide has inspired you to visit northern Spain for your next surf holiday!

If you are planning a trip to northern Spain, get an instant quote from your transfers from Biarritz Airport and Bilbao Airport to the surf resort and have the option of adding your surfboard as an item of luggage!