Us Europeans love Spanish surfing destinations because the coast receives the brunt of North Atlantic swells. This collision of powerful ocean energy and unmovable landmass creates countless waves up and down the Spanish mainland coast. As a result, the best surf spots in Spain are noted for booming breaks and world-class waves.
Funny enough, the low pressure systems that dump rain on Britain create the favourable offshore winds in north Spain. But surfing here didn’t really catch on until the 1960s and 70s. However, since then the country has produced some of the world’s top surfers. Expect some localisation at the top breaks; as with any other destination, a little respect in the water goes a long way.
Looking for empty waves? The adventurous surfer is often rewarded in Spain. With bountiful coastline and swell, winter explorers can find often spots all to themselves. But keeping to the well travelled road does provide the most consistent, solid sessions. Particularly if you plan surfing holidays at the spots below on the Spanish mainland:
Most of the top mainland surfing in Spain is found in the north of the country. But don’t worry if you have bought property in Marbella or rented a luxury villa down South, there is still good surf to be found, it is just a little less consistent and rarely as big. This article does not include the fabulous surf in the Canaries, check out the best surfing in the Canary Islands for more info.
Find out about the best surf spots in Spain below:
Just to get it out of the way. Mundaka has to be number one on any list of Spanish surf spots. Peeling down the eponymous Mundaka river mouth, the wave is regarded as one of the top Europe surf destinations. Fast and heavy and capable or holding triple-overhead swell, ten second barrel rides have been recorded here.
The river’s current creates a sandbar that translates into perfect lefts when swell picks up. Not for the inexperienced, the wave’s band of locals probably won’t let a new-comer catch much off the top.
Instead, sit further inside and pick off ones that get through without a rider. Make the drop and start pumping to get through that next barrel section!
Not far from the thunderous tubes of Mundaka, Bakio’s beach break serves up a number of sandy-bottom peaks. A decent northwest swell can get the entire beach working, with a notable right hand barrel forming at the western end.
Bakio is a good beginner to intermediate alternative to Mundaka’s size and power. Crowds can be expected when the surf is good, but the variety of waves help to spread out the lineup.
The beautiful beach town of Zarautz hosts a stunning beach and break of the same name. A sandy bottom shifts peaks around depending on the swell direction and waves can get large and closed-out on bigger swells.
The spot can be crowded on the weekends so try surfing early or during the week. A number of A-frames thins out crowd, but it is definitely one of the top Spanish surfing destinations.
Because of the geography, a true west swell won’t do much at Zarautz. Check out the town when waves are lacking and stick around for a fun night of barhopping.
Billed as a smaller Mundaka, this wave can be just as perfect and offers similar lengthy cover-ups. Not usually as big or heavy as its titan brother to the east, Rodiles has an almost identical set-up with a sandbar formed along the western bank of the river mouth.
The wave is probably the most popular spot in the Asturias region so don’t expect to surf it alone. Get there early on a good northwest swell to experience this exceptional wave. Although less serious than Mundaka, reverence to the locals is always a good idea.
Just outside the hustle and party scene of San Sebastian lays the easy going beach break of Zurriola. Although it can pick up when swell arrives from the right northwest angle, the break is generally mellow and unpretentious.
Being so close to the city, it’s an easy reach for visitors on San Sebastian surfing holidays, and it’s hard for locals to claim the spot as the lineup is constantly in flux. Waves are consistent and fun. A righthander off the jetty offers a solid ride that tends to show up every day. Bring a longboard or fish to maximize the potential here.
Ask a local to translate for you or consult the nearest Spanish-English dictionary to understand the mood of this wave. A rocky jetty forms this right point with mammoth potential. When the swell is down and the tide has dropped, there is no use in surfing here unless you prefer dodging exposed boulders.
But when the surf gets going, this right is fast and gnarly and a favourite destination for chargers from all over the northern coast. Only experienced surfers should paddle out here. Pack a minigun or a step-up when waves get overhead. Body and equipment are in danger of sacrifice if you misjudge a section on this long, zooming right.
Off the port town of Santander sits the natural preserve island of Santa Marina. The tiny island is uninhabited, but the giant right point break it throws up is not. The paddle from Santa Marina is serious in itself, and when you arrive at the wave you might wish you’d brought a bigger board.
But the quality is unmistakable and you’re already out here. This is sure to become the destination of some surf trip entrepreneur in Santander, but until then, it will take a 30 minute paddle or a kindly fisherman to reach it. And one single ride is well worth the effort.
Moving to the southern coast the best Spanish surfing destinations down here offer a different experience. Don’t expect double head height booming barrels, but there is good surf to be had.
Beginners, families and intermediates in particular will have a blast. And while experienced surfers are better heading north, if you are in the south there are still waves to enjoy.
Located in Malaga, in the heart of the Costa Del Sol, El Chanquete beach (also known as El Dedo beach) is a favourite among local surfers. Poniente (westerly) and Levante (easterly) winds help ensure surf is firing more often than not. The lively seafront and countless beach bars are great to chill out or party after a day on the water.
Located at the southern most point of the continent, Tarifa is known as the best kitesurf spot in Europe. Less well known is that it’s home to some of the best Spanish surfing destinations in the south.
While not the home to the biggest waves in the area, consistency makes Balneario the most popular surfing spot in near Tarifa. You’ll find the excellent beginner and intermediate beach break next to Tarifa Island. Mostly offering rights there are lefties in the ‘El Foso’ area.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to the best surf spots in Spain. If you want to join a group of surfers then check out the 10 best surf camps in Spain for a holiday.