Surfing in Europe
Surfing’s new frontier in Europe has three hot spots: The beach breaks of southwest France, the Cornish coast in England and the cold climes of Ireland. It’s a wonderland of surf spots and cultures, receiving all the swell and unbridled Atlantic storm can throw at it.
England and Ireland
England and Ireland are cold and wetsuits are required year round. The two islands see water temps dip down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in winter while France to the south rarely gets below 52 degrees. Summer is still sweater weather in the UK, but along the beaches of Hossegor, it’s truly amazing. Mild nights and hot days in the 80s and 90s keep the summer vibe in full swing.
Hossegor in southwest France hosts some of the best beach breaks in the world. It’s also where most surfers in Europe come to spend their summer and autumn holidays (along with half the population of Paris). But the waves are amazing, ranging from easy rollers to thumping tubes depending on the sand bank and swell.
Surf Lessons Hossegor is part of the Secret Spot Lodge near Vieux Boucau (they aren’t actually in Hossegor proper, but close to other beaches). It’s a big house featuring individual rooms with private bathrooms. You can enjoy the pool, sundeck and BBQ amenities. Breakfast is included with your stay which starts at 75€ depending on season.
The best deal is their “surf & stay” package which will set you back 220€ for two nights stay in the B&B and one surf lesson. Prices go up from there but the longer you stay the more lessons you get and the less expensive it is. If you are a returning surfer with a decent skill set, they will take you on a guided surf tour of the area.
Places to stay
Most of England’s swell window is blocked by Ireland, so it’s the southwest that receives most of the swells. The scene here is centred around Newquay and while not as good as Bundoran or Hossegor, each spot has its day.
There are several surf & stay options in Newquay, with Escape Surf School offering special package deals. Their “2 nights and 2 surf lessons” deal is 80€ on weekdays and 90€on weekends. It’s a great way to experience the Newquay surf scene with a stay at the quaint St Christopher’s Inn (the patron saint of travellers) and lessons from their certified instructors.
Rooms are dorm style and sleep 4-10 surfers. The package deal comes with a 5/3 wetsuit and gloves and boots. Breakfast is included free, as is the stunning ocean view from the rooms.
Ireland’s craggy coast is dotted with reefs that turn on during winter storms. The north facing beaches get offshore winds during these tempests, turning disorganised swell into lightly groomed peaks. Bundoran is the surf capital here and there are several places to surf and stay.
The Rougey Lodge offers surf & stay packages starting at one night including breakfast and equipment for 50€ (dorm room) or 60€ (private room). It’s a social, festive place and acts as a hub for traveling surfers.
If you don’t need lessons you can do their surf & rent package which includes equipment rental with each booked stay. Prices for surf & rent start at 40€ for single dorm rentals and 50€ for a private room.
European surfing guide and tips prepared by Bryan Dickerson (wavepoolmag.com) for Dailystoke.com’s surf guides.
Photo by George Hiles