10 Best Surf Spots in the Canaries
With the vast amount of cheap holidays on offer to popular Canary Island resorts plus readily available cheap car hire, you can easily combine a sunny getaway with surfing thus presenting surfers and wannabe surfers with a great short haul destination. After you check out these great surf spots you'll be saying "Buena Buena!" and be amped to go to the Canaries to sample these waves for yourself. Not only will you discover where to go to find some of the best surf spots in the Canaries but you'll know what to expect, the best time of year to score waves and what to take with you.
What to expect from surfing in the Canaries
Overall the standard of waves on offer in the Canary Islands is very high with a multitude of over 100 well known rocky pointbreaks, reefs and rippable beachbreak waves suitable for learners, intermediate and hardcore surfers. Each of the main islands in the Canaries have surfable waves all year long with favourable water temperatures making for a welcome change from the cold water of the UK. Out of the Canaries, the islands of Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the best choices of destination for surfers going to the Canaries on a surf trip.
Dealing with crowds
Surfing is popular with the locals throughout the Canaries especially at many of the good surf spots close to resort towns such as Corralejo on Fuerteventura and Las Americas on Tenerife. As a result these spots can get pretty crowded. The vibe in the water is usually pretty good so, as always, follow usual rules of surfing etiquette and things should go well for you. Be confident, don't snake or drop in but also don't be afraid to say "Hola!" and throw a smile. As the saying goes - "be cool and they'll cool."
How to get waves to yourself
Remember that most surfers (like you) would rather sleep in than get up for the dawn patrol, so even though you are on holidays push yourself to get up and go surfing early - especially over the weekends! Also, most local surfers have jobs or school to go to so raid the bank during the day before siesta time. Lastly, and most likely, the local surfers like to party too - so if you're really up for the surf get up early on the morning after big party nights!
Best time of year to score the best waves
Between September to April is the best window of time for scoring good, regular swells coupled with the hot and sunny weather that makes the Canaries so attractive to the hordes of regular, beach-loving tourists. However, the real peak time for surfing in the Canaries is from November to February when there are consistent 6-8ft swells lighting up all the sick beachies, reefs and pointbreaks. From May through the summer until the end of August there is an occasional small swell but there can be long flat spells.
What to bring
The water temperatures are much warmer than the UK but can still be cold enough to require a wetsuit or neoprene wetsuit top and boardshorts as the temperatures do vary from 22c in the summer to 18c in the winter. Surfers coming to the Canaries in the winter should definitely bring both their 3/2mm wetsuit or a shortie along with boardshorts for the hot days. You would also be well advised to bring booties to protect your feet - getting in and out over jagged rocks and boulders at many spots can be a living nightmare with bare feet! On the surfboard front, just take your regular surfboard unless you intend charging some of the more challenging waves when the swell is pumping at 6ft and over. One last item you definitely won't want to forget is a ding repair kit - chances are you'll be staying for a quick week in the sun and you won't want to wait for days while your board is getting fixed.
El Quemao, Lanzarote -
This wave is hardcore! When El Quemao is firing on all cylinders you can literally see it breaking from miles away. Only the very experienced and brave surfer should even attempt to surf this wave as it is seriously powerful and dangerous too. As raw Atlantic swells thunder in, El Quemao produces thick, hollow waves that break over sharp, rocky reef with wave heights up to 16ft -- thats about 4 to 5 times the height of the average surfer! As if the seriously challenging waves weren't enough to contend with, surfers tackling this wave need to win the respect of the locals, be on the watch for sneaker sets and battle the riptides that sweep you away from the break. El Quemao is a world class wave and would serve the seriously experienced surfer well as a training ground for surfing the likes of Teahupoo or Pipeline.
The Bubble, Fuerteventura -
The Bubble is a world class right-hand wave on Fuerteventura's famed northshore track that will rock your world! On a decent N or NE swell and offshore winds you'll find epic, hollow, power-packed waves thundering over the sharp rocky reef. Waves are best at around 4-6ft (head high to double overhead) with every wave presenting you with the opportunity to get well and truly shacked! Thankfully weekday crowds aren't too bad although the weekends can be very crowded with locals and tourist surfers doing battle to score waves.
Los Lobos, Fuerteventura -
Are you a natural foot? Do you like surfing long right hand waves? Have you ever surfed around the base of an old volcano? Can you say "Los Lobos"? This wave is an epic setup with several sections which can link up to become 500m of pure surfing adrenaline over sharp and shallow reef. Los Lobos produces its best waves when wave heights are around 3-5ft+ (overhead - head and a half) but it can handle much bigger swells with wave heights reaching 8ft (triple overhead). Crowding can be a problem here but thankfully sheer length of the setup helps to thin the crowd out. Beware of wiping out over the shallow reef and watch out as sharks are to known to frequent the spot! Los Lobos is quite a versatile spot that continues working on low-mid tides and stays clean with winds from the NE, E, SE and around from the South. Getting to Los Lobos involves a short ferry ride from the harbour at Corralejo which leaves at 10am and returns at 4pm. This is a day trip away from the main island of Fuerteventura and there is nothing on this moonscape island except for the waves, so be prepared. Pack all the sunscreen, food and drink that you'll need. You should also consider taking a first aid kit incase you get injured.
Hierro, Fuerteventura -
Hierro awaits eager surfers along the north shore track and is a powerful left-hand wave that will delight goofyfooters. Hierro, also known simply as "Izquierda" (the left), has two main take off spots which is helpful in spreading the crowds out down the lineup. When a N or NW swell combines with offshore winds, Hierro becomes one of the finest waves on Fuerteventura and indeed in the Canaries. It breaks over reasonably deep water too. Hierro is quite versatile and works well on all tides with optimal wave heights of 3-5ft (head high+) but it can handle much bigger swells producing 8-10ft waves.
Spanish Left, Tenerife -
Spanish Left is also referred to as "La Izquierda" by the locals and literally means "the left." Well, Spanish Left is definitely a wave you won't want to miss if you are staying close to the resort of Las Americas, Tenerife. The left produces the best waves when wave heights are around 4ft+ (overhead) but it can handle much bigger swells with wave heights reaching 10ft. The spot is very versatile, work on all tides and handles swell best from the North West and West. Take your time picking your way out over the rocks and watch out for the unforgiving sharp reef when you wipeout. This spot is popular with the locals - try your best to negotiate the constant crowd factor and Spanish Left will quickly become popular with you too.
Morro Negro, Lanzarote -
Get out and see Lanzarote, pack your surfboards on the roof and drive up north to Morro Negro, situated just south of La Isleta. Morro Negro is a long, rocky, right-hand point break that produces 150-300m waves when its really firing. Morro Negro picks up lots of swell, works on all tides and starts working on small waves around 3ft (headhigh) but really ignites on medium to large swells producing long, well shaped waves holding up to extra large 16ft (triple overhead +) waves. This is a popular wave for locals and travelling surfers alike, surfers with some experience surfing reef should be able to give it a go - but be careful. Morro Negro is a regional classic on Lanzarote that you shouldn't overlook.
Playa de Cotillo, Fuerteventura -
Playa de Cotillo is a beach break that has few of the hazards, crowds and dangers you will encounter from some of the Canary's heavy reef breaks. But what it lacks in raw power and notoriety it makes up for with fun, bashable waves. When there's a nice swell running, waves continue to work well throughout the rising and falling tides producing fun waves that best work around 3-5ft (overhead). Getting to Playa de Cotillo is also fairly easy, just outside of Cotillo drive your car down the dirt track and make your way down to the beach. Surfing this beach break is also not a crowded affair - get out there and enjoy the waves.
El Confital, Gran Canaria -
El Confital is touted as one of the best right-hand reef breaks in the Canary Islands, and even Europe, with its fast and powerful waves. As the waves wrap around the reef the ride gets increasingly more hollow making for some great barrels. Swells march in from the North and North West to produce reef hugging waves up to 10ft (triple overhead) that will blow your mind, with the length of ride ranging between 50-150 m depending on the size of the swell and direction. On the downside, the lineup during the weekend at El Confital is usually very crowded with local surfers jealous for the best waves. Thankfully though, this spot is quite versatile working through rising and falling tides. During the week the crowds are fairly thin giving visiting surfers the opportunity to snag loads of memorable rides.
Billboards, Tenerife -
Right in the thick of Las Americas just out in front of the billboards (hence the name) and the Metropolis Bar you'll find Billboards - a classic righthander that peels down-the-line over rocks for up to 150m on bigger swells. Billboards starts to work around 2ft (waist high) but can hold no more than double overhead waves. When its on you won't want to miss this wave, just take care getting in and out because clambering out across the rocky reef is hard on your feet! Due to its proximity to the town Billboards can get quite crowded with locals, especially on weekends and after work hours.
La Fitenia, Tenerife -
Another peaky, reef setup with very good rights and lefts to make both natural foots and goofyfooters more than happy. La Fitenia is close to all the touristy action in heart of Las Americas. When its firing La Fitenia has some excellent, powerful 150m+ rides especially when wave heights are pushing over 4-6ft (up to double overhead). Surfing at La Fitenia on weekdays and over the weekends is as crowded as the nearby spots of Spanish Left and Billboards.
Submitted By Ryan - Magicseaweed.com
on the 15th October 2007.
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