Surfing France and Spain on a Budget

in Travel Deals, Trip Planning

There are many surfers out there who dream of “surfing the world,” yet perhaps think they can’t afford it.

To them I say “think again.” With some savvy financial planning and research, it’s possible to take yourself in a surf tour of Western Europe without breaking the bank. Here are some renowned surf spots in France and Spain to consider:

Mediterranean Coast (Toulon and Marseilles), France

Located in the southwestern part of France, the nearby major cities of Toulon and Marseilles offer some great surf breaks. Major surf championships are hosted in this area each year. It is relatively affordable to stay in either one of these cities. Like most large European cities, there are a variety of lodging options in various price points. There are several hostels in both Marseilles and Toulon, as well as a variety of 1-2 start hotels. It should come as no surprise that many surfers are also fans of couch surfing. I’ve known several people who have had great experiences with this frugal travel practice. Boards can be rented (if you don’t want to ship your own) and supplies purchased at one of several surf shops in the area, including Freestyle Surf Shop in St. Cyr sur Mer, Aloha Surf Shop in Toulon or Massilia Surf Shop in Marseilles.

Biarritz (and surrounding areas), France

Biarritz is located on France’s western coast (on the Atlantic Ocean). In 1957, surfers from California who were traveling through Europe first discovered the impressive waves of Biarritz and surrounding towns like Saint-Raphael and Saint Jean de Luz. Biarritz’s first surf club was established in 1959, making surfing became a large part of the local culture.

biarritz france photo

Surf School in Biarritz

Today, Biarritz is considered one of the unofficial “surf capitals” of Europe. It is possible to rent a board right on Biarritz’s main beach, and there are special areas designated for surfers (away from the swimming and lounging crowd). The international Biarritz Surf Festival takes place here each July. Tens of thousands of visitors flock here to witness the big names of longboard surfing do their thing. There are also surf shops located in Saint-Raphael and Saint Jean de Luz that offer rentals and lessons. Because Biarritz is also an upscale tourist area, finding discount deals on travel related expenses (i.e., lodging) is a bit more difficult than in the other areas mentioned in this post, but definitely not impossible. Check out Surf Hostel Bed and Breakfast, for example.

Mundaka, Spain

The small fishing village of Mundaka (located in Spain’s Basque region) is very popular surf spot. Situated on the Bay of Biscay, Mundaka welcomes some of the largest waves in all of Europe. The surf season lasts from September-February and the water is packed with experienced surfers during this time. Mundaka hosts the Billabong Pro competition each December.

Unlike Marseilles and Biarriz (which are both easily accessible by train), Mundaka is a bit harder to get to. It is about 25 miles from the city of Bilbao (the nearest large city). There are also several (inexpensive buses a day that go from both Bilbao and Bermeo to Mudaka.

There are several lodging options in Mundaka for surfers on a budget. The Portuondo campground (00 34 94 687 67 00 is located near the cemetery on your way in to town. There are three inexpensive hotels in town: Hotel Mundaka (00 34 94 687 67 00), Hotel El Puerto (00 34 94 687 67 25), Hotel Atalaya (00 34 94 687 68 88). There are also a variety of pensiones in the nearby town of Guernika.

Enjoy planning (and going on) your more affordable European surf adventure!

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