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

Mundaka

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.

Zarautz

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!


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