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10 Great Surf Spots along the Atlantic Coast

Written by 31 October 2011 5 Comments

I have been waiting all summer long for this moment: sandy beaches,  green sparkling waves, sunshine and hot surfer guys. And finally all those day dreams became true. My friend Leo, who I once met at a surfcamp two years before, invited me out on a roadtrip along the Atlantic Coast. Equipped with a VW camper van, canned food, lots of sun cream and our surf gear we started our trip in the French surf town of Moliets and made our way up to the Spanish Basque Country. One would expect that in the end of September temperatures would drop and the sea would start to turn cold, but this actually was not the case and we were even able to go surfing without our wetsuits. We were out to let the good times roll surf!

When surfing dreams come true…

Here a little review about 10 of the best surf spots, which I have visited on my recent surf trip and on a prior surf-trip in the same area

1. Moliets Plage (France)

In general, France is known for offering some world-class waves during summer/autumn and attracts surfers from all over the world. Even the European Surf Championships are held here each year, in Biarritz.

Moliets La Plage is one of the most pleasant resorts along the area ‘Les Landes’ and has a huge camping area, where you can find lots of surf camps, such as WaveTours, Rainbow Surf Camp, Freistil and many others. Fellow Travelette Ina, Leo and I all met each other there, while we joined the Freistil surf camp.

Our friend Muriel, travelette Ina and me

Moliets is well known for offering very consistent waves, a great nightlife and a beautiful landscape with endless sandy beaches. In case any of you will make your way up there, check out the bar L’Open and the club Meltin (249,Val de Lamartine) – we had some unforgettable nights there. If you park your van on the parking lot it will cost you only 3€ per night – parking on the campsite will be a bit more expensive.

2. Messages

Messages is just a 10-minutes car ride from Moliets. Leo, Dale and Kat, all surf teachers I met in Moliets, found some very good sandbanks there and rated the waves as “the best ones of  the whole summer”. Even some pro’s came down, big camera team in tow. For me, more or less being an ‘advanced beginner’, the waves were a bit too powerful, so instead I had time to take some photos of my friends and work on my tan. Not too bad at all, considering that it was end of September.

Dale surfing in the barrel

My friend Leo

3. Labenne

Labenne has, like Moliets and Messages, never ending sandy beaches. The waves were breaking quite close to the shore with an incredible power – so not all that recommendable for beginners, good surfers however are likely to enoy this spot a lot.

4. Hossegor

Hossegor is well known for its huge surf outlet centre and for having some of Europe’s best surf spots. The Quicksilver Pro Championships are held here and the whole city has grouped its economy around surfing.

5. Cenitz

The closer we got to Spain, the more the landscape changed – after all those long-stretched sandy beaches we were suddenly faced with a coast full of cliffs. While looking for a spot to stop in, we somehow ended up in the little village Cenitz with a perfect parking spot from which you could overlook the sea. The waves were breaking very smoothly and slow, which let this beginner get her surfer on. Definitely a great spot for longboarders!

6. San Sebastian

San Sebastian is 20km away from the French border and apart from surfing, it is well know for its nightlife and great shopping. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Spain and after a couple of quiet days here, it turned out to be the perfect spot to catch up on partying and sightseeing. If you plan on camping in San Sebastian, you should know that there is only one campsite, which is a bit remote (check out here). To get more information about the place check out Nina‘s previous post: SPAIN: San Sebastian – pirate bay and surfer boys

7. Bilbao – Mundaka

Mundaka is located close to Bilbao and is famous for having some really fast, hollow left-hand waves, which break anywhere until up to 12ft. A sandbank helps the wave to break, even when other spots around might close out. The wave is well known for being ‘unpredictable’ – but this is what makes it so much fun (for advanced surfers that is). If you haven’t surfed there before it is advisable to watch some big, incoming sets first, before paddling out in the sea. The only downside is that it is hardly possible to find a parking spot. My friend and I actually gave up after driving around for quite a while and continued our trip without trying out the famous wave that attracts surfers from everywhere.

8. Barrista

Barrista is quite close to Bilbao. A long and steep stone-staircase integrated in the cliff  brings you to the beach.
I really liked this spot, which seems to still be an insider tip and not as touristy as some of the other places we had been to. It therefore came as a real shock to my friend and I when w found that we had got robbed. Someone had broken into our car while we were at the beach and stole almost everything we had. If you come here, make sure you don’t park in front of the hedges, hide your stuff inside your car and ideally, have some sort of high-security lock system in place.

The absolute highlight of my stay in Barrista: THE NAKED SURFER

9. Los Locos

Los Locos had a beautiful blue bay and was a great place for skimboarding. In order to reach the spot, you have to climb up some cliffs. During the summer months, the spot is well known for some small and medium swells.


10. San Vicente

San Vicente was my favourite place of all. We found an incredible parking spot in the middle of the countryside with a great view of the sea. Also, the nearby town has all you need: supermarkets, restaurants and even a little castle (in case you feel like doing some sightseeing). I’ve been absolutely amazed by the landscape and enjoyed my last days chilling out here. The sea was not really crowded, like the many other surf spots we have been to.

Green Path to the Beach

The view from our van

Now it’s time for warm jackets and mulled wine.  GOODBYE SUMMER – see you next year!

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  • kathrine said:

    love it marie! a great inspiration the next summer holiday :)

    i think baleal/peniche in portugal should be added to the list though, as it is considered one of the very best surf spots in europe: http://www.travelettes.net/baleal-europes-best-surfspot/. you should try it out on your next surf trip!

  • marie said:

    thanks. Take me with you :) and yeah, I definitely want to visit Portugal as well, have never made my way up there

  • Ina said:

    So much love for the Atlantic Coast! Can’t wait to go back next summer and surf some waves in Spain (and Portugal) :)

  • 36 Dinge, die einen Surfing-Roadtrip am Atlantik einzigartig machen | salt in my hairsalt in my hair said:

    […] Liebe zum Roadtrippen habe ich vor 3 Jahren entdeckt, als ich mit einem Kumpel und seinem Van einen Kurztrip an den Atlantik gemacht habe. Ein Jahr später habe ich mit einer Freundin mein eigenes, kleines Cabrio bepackt, […]

  • david said:

    It is not Barrista, the name is Barinatxe, and usually refered as “La Salvaje” (the wild)

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