The Easter surf trip in the Basque country rolls on!
Leaving the surf in Biarritz and hitting the world famous San Sebastián in Spain is easy-riding as it is only about half an hour away with no passport needed to cross the border. Think of San Sebastián (or Donostia in the Basque language) and fiesta will immediately spring to mind, in the form of very long evenings winding through the old streets taking on gradually more and more pintxos and wine at each stop. Unfortunately for our Easter surf trip, we happened to hit San Sebastián during a biblical deluge (note for future: there is a reason for the Spanish saying ‘en abril, aguas mil’) which meant zero crowds and less ambiance – which gave us the little required impetus time to hunt for some classic waves further past the French/Spanish border.
Starting from San Sebastián, La Zurriola is almost right in the centre of the town at Playa Gros. If you are looking to save money and avoid a hostel, you might be able to park your camper van fairly easily during the off-season by the Patagonia store at the end of the beach. La Zurriola is a decent enough wave but its location in the centre of town makes it super accessible – which means constant crowds and at a mixed level. And so although a surf at La Zurriola is always pleasant, if you have wheels you should fairly promptly carry on your journey towards Mundaka, one of the most mythical waves in the world and discover the various other jewels in the Basque crown. And there are many to discover.
For me, the route that runs from San Sebastián to Bilbao via Mundaka is almost as amazing as the wave itself and is a real highlight of any trip. Although you always have the option of easing along the motorway towards Bilbao, the coastal road that leads you past small traditional Basque towns has to be one of the most amazing stretches of road in the world. Steep and meandering routes wind through forest and dramatic oceanic views. On top of all that, there are many waves that are worth getting wet for, including the beaches at Zarautz, one of the most powerful lefts in the world at Mundaka and the big wave spot Rocaputa. If you drive along the coast yourself, you’ll stumble across many spots, often not too crowded. For us, the discovery of new places pushed us to keep on driving past the fun-looking waves on what was a fairly small swell in search of more perfection. In the end, with the evening running out, we stopped at a place called Laga as it looked to offer a picturesque bay with steep cliffs to the east, decent wave and importantly somewhere to park up overnight. Freecamping overnight out of season was fine and so we enjoyed a peaceful sleep after a quick surf and drink in the fairly basic bar before hitting the water again for a glassy morning session. Laga surf is highly recommended.
For us, the quick-fire surf trip in the east of the Basque country was coming to a close as the swell wasn’t cooperative enough to make us hang around. Mundaka would have to wait, but we’d found enough waves to make us happy along the route. And so having found some small consistent surf and very consistent rain, we decided to grab some shelter at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao which is only 30 minutes from Laga. The Guggenheim is one of the architectural wonders of the world – perhaps even it holds the same significance for the world of modern architecture as Mundaka does for the world of surf. Whether you are an architect or a surfer, you won’t be let down.
All I’d say is, get here as soon as you can. Take any opportunity, it won’t let you down.
Have I missed anything off? Discover anything new? Let me know!