Surfing in Basque Country is an epic fall surf trip adventure. After the kids have gone back to school and the Europeans have wrapped up their month(s) long summer vacation and headed back to the cities, the surf starts to pump.
Surfing Basque Country? Where is that?
You may be asking where is Basque Country, or even what is it? Or, how have I not heard of this country!
Technically, the Basque region is an “autonomous community” in northern Spain, the region along the Atlantic coast where it meets up with France. It was granted the status as a nationality within Spain in 1978 and has its own parliament and high court.
Of course, the Basque people know no boundaries, and often when people are referring to the Basque Country, they really mean the great Basque region which straddles both Spain and France.
And for the purposes of a surf trip, that greater Basque region is what we’re talking about. After all, when in the Basque country, be like the Basque! Don’t think about those silly EU national borders. (Plus, with the integrated EU, there is no process to crossing the border between Spain and France. You just cruise right through).
Ok. Now that we’ve cleared that up. For this trip, since we’re most likely sticking to the coast surfing Basque country includes the region from Bilbao, Spain to about Biarritz, France, and all of the amazing surf breaks in between.
Speaking of Surf Breaks, let’s get into that.
The most famous surf break in Basque Country is undoubtedly the fabled left point at Mundaka. Located in a small fishing village on the Spanish coast just under an hour away from Bilbao.
Now, Mundaka is no beginner wave despite the changes that have occurred there over the years. So depending on your surfing ability, Mundaka is either a wave chasers dream and true bucket-list type wave, or a place to go and see some real action of an experienced surf crew at work. Plus stopping into a small fishing village in Spain is never a bad idea and could be just the thing to start your adventure up the coast.
If you’re taking a surf trip to Basque Country, you’re most likely going to stop in San Sebastian. San Sebastian is the most well-known town in Basque Country, mostly for its internationally renowned food scene.
However, while you are very likely to find people who travel to San Sebastian among the jet setter crowd, you are unlikely to find that many people travel there for surf. The great thing is, you get all of the benefits of being in this amazing town, the same as everyone else, except you are motivated for that morning session surfing Zurriola beach.
Just another short drive up the coast and you’ve entered a whole different universe in Biarritz, France. This low-key enclave for wealthy Europeans has a decidedly different vibe than the other parts of Basque Country. First, it is, well, French. You won’t hear Basque being spoken here as in Spain.
Second, after surfing at Zurriola for a few days (or weeks) the Grande Plage just feels like a totally different scene. The beach itself is expansive with the Hotel Windsor Biarritz at one and and the Hotel Regina Biarritz at the other (with the Hotel du Palais right in the middle.
These grand old hotels prominently placed right on the promenade of La Grand Plage shows that Biarritz has been a beach-centric destination for a long time. T
With its expansive beach and wide promenade, in Biarritz spending your day in oceanfront cafe’s moving from coffee to white wine to cocktails is almost irresistible.
The amazing scene at Grand Plage is enough to make you want to leave all of your other possessions behind and just stay for a while, or forever.
Biarritz, for me, has always been one of those places that hold “I can move here status”.
Of course, since you’re travelling in the off-season like a pro, the cafe’s are sparsely populated and the beach has a few blankets here and there. You can tell by the way the staff is relaxed that they have just survived the crush of the busy season and are on cruise control now.
While technically no long in Basque Country, we wouldn’t blame you if you went ahead and made the trip up from Biarritz to Hossegor. Only half an hour away and renowned for pumping beach break barrels and a true surf town vibe, Hossegor might be an irresistible stop on the Basque Country surf tour.
With a rocky craggy shoreline interspersed with amazing beaches and tiny fishing villages that will throw you back centuries, there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore for surf in the towns between Mundaka and Biarritz. Plus, with the short driving distances, you can easily do day trips from your digs in San Sebastian or Biarritz to go take a peek or follow up on a little tidbit of local knowledge you may have picked up in some late-night speakeasy.
Plus, with surf options for everyone from big wave chargers to beginners, a surf trip to Basque country is sure to fulfill everyone’s need for waves, culture, amazing food, and an experience of what European surfers get to enjoy.
Côte Basque Big Wave Side Note
In case you’re worried about not being challenged. Here’s a great video of côte Basque going XL.
Cultural Side Note
One side trip not to be missed and can easily be factored in if you are flying in and out of Bilbao is a visit to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Be warned, it is closed on Mondays. Apparently, this is a common museum thing. Not that I knew.
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