Surf and Travel in Sri Lanka

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Surf and Travel in Sri Lanka

Want to know all there is to know about surfing in Sri Lanka? Then check out Rebel Surfcamp’s surfing guide to Sri Lanka below or get in touch for more information on how to find and book a surf trip to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is Tropical Fun!

Sri Lanka is a country to discover. After many years of a Civil War, the island has recovered its peace, so surfers and tourists can enjoy the beauty of this tropical island. Conquered by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Ceylon (Sri Lanka’s name during the British colony) has a diverse mix of cultures and traditions. Tea and Cinnamon lovers have in Sri Lanka its paradise. Sri Lanka is perhaps one of the best countries in South Asia to visit if you’re a surfer thanks to its climate, variety of waves and the almost endless amount of surf camps and surf schools for you to choose from.

The best way to travel to Sri Lanka is flying to Colombo airport (CMB). Colombo airport receives international flights from global hubs like Dubai or Doha. Once at the Colombo airport you can choose to travel by train (what is a must in Sri Lanka), travel by bus or with a private driver to any other area of the island. The local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee and the language Sinhala, however English is spoken by many locals due to the British colonization in the past. The local time in Sri Lanka is UTC +5. You can get a cheap prepaid SIM card upon your arrival to the airport in Colombo to stay connected during your surf vacation.

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Surf Regions in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has two main surfing areas. The East coast, where the best swell and surfing conditions work from May to October (during the southwest monsoon). And the SouthWest coast that works as its best from November to April (dry season).

Sri Lanka has been an undiscovered country until a few years ago. Sri Lanka still offers uncrowded amazing surfing spots where you can enjoy an almost solo surfing session during sunrise or sunset. We traveled to Sri Lanka in February 2020 (during the dry season), therefore we chose the SouthWest coast to surf, travel and discover!

We stayed in Sri Lanka for 2 weeks. We landed in Colombo from Dubai airport with Emirates airlines. We spent 13 days in Weligama Bay from where we moved to the different surfing spots along the coast and also made a couple of day trips to Galle and the Udawalawe National Park.  We also made a city trip to Colombo for the last 2 days of our winter surfing escape to Asia.

We explored the SouthWest coast of Sri Lanka and surfed amazing waves in surfing spots such as Kabalana, Sticks, Lazy right, Lazy left, Fishermen, Mirissa point, Kangaroos and Ahangama. We also tried Weligama, of course. However we tried to escape as much as possible due to its crowdedness (you might find over 200 people in the water!). If you can, avoid surfing in Weligama! It is a good spot though for beginners where to practice your 1st take offs on your board. After 2 or 3 days, you will be ready to explore the uncrowded surfing spots.

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Some of the surfing spots in Sri Lanka are beach breaks (like Weligama, that counts with kilometres of waves without any reefs or rocks), however most of the surfing spots in this area of Sri Lanka are reef breaks (not too dangerous though). The water temperature has an average of 27 degrees all year round. The good news is that you can surf in your bikini or shorts 🙂 What a feeling in the middle of the winter! On the down side, the weather in the island is very humid, however most of the accommodations, restaurants, cafes and public transports have air conditioning that will let you breathe. 

As we are longboard surfing enthusiasts, we loved surfing in Sri Lanka due to its long right and left waves. Our favourite spot was without any doubts a secret surfing spot around Ahangama village with an amazing long wave where you can dance the waves with your surfboard. Get in touch with us if you wanna know where this spot is 🙂

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Day Trip to Galle

But we did more than surfing since our nature is to travel and discover new cultures. We took a surfing day off and went to Galle for a day trip. Galle is a beautiful city full of history and a mix of cultures where you can find mosques, Dutch colonial buildings and Portuguese forts. We arrived in Galle by bus from Weligama. We advise you to take a bus in Sri Lanka, it is a memorable experience by itself 🙂 Once in Galle you can access the Fort by foot from the bus station. Strolling Galle Fort is an experience back in time through colonization and history. The main door of the Fort still has the name of the VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Indian Dutch company) from the Dutch colonization period of the island. You can stroll inside the Fort for around 3-4 hours exploring its restaurants, vintage clothes shops, pop-up stores, colonial furniture shops, museums, beaches, churches, mosquees and friendly local people. We chose to eat right in front of the beach enjoying an amazing curry overlooking the ocean and the waves breaking.

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Back in our hotel in Weligama we went out for dinner to a local restaurant in the Bay: No Fish Today We enjoyed an amazing vegan meal (falafel bowls) and cocktails. Try their gin and mango cocktail, it is just amazing! A superb combination of dry gin with and sweet local mango juice served in a tea cup…

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The swell in SouthWest Sri Lanka is consistent all year round and is hard to find flat surfing spots. However, the best period to go is from November to April when it doesn’t get too messy due to the monsoon season. If you are planning to travel to Sri Lanka from May to October, then the best option is to stay at the East coast, in Arugam Bay, where the surfing conditions are as it best during our summer time. 

 

Before your trip to Sri Lanka

As most of the surfing spots are reef breaks, and probably you will be surfing just with bikini or shorts, we advise you to prepare at least 6 weeks in advance prior traveling to the island with the needed inoculations. There are still quite a few Tropical diseases in Sri Lanka that you don’t want to take in case of some injuries while surfing. Also mosquitoes love biting during the nights 🙂 It is convenient to arrange a medical travel insurance. Even though all worked out perfectly in our case, in case of medical assistance, the cost can be very high. You also need a VISA to stay in the country that you can arrange online a few weeks before departure date. The cost changes often and sometimes you can even get it for free (it depends on how busy the island is at the moment). You can find out how to get your Visa to Sri Lanka here . Don’t forget to travel with your passport valid for at least 6 months from the departure date.

 

Udawalawe National Park Day Trip

After a few more days, we decided to visit Udawalawe National Park, which is around 3 hours drive from Weligama Bay. We made it with a local tour guide who came to pick us up at the hotel early in the morning. The day trip to the Park also includes lunch in a local restaurant near the National Park (the restaurant offers all kinds of curry, rotis and teas). The drive is super comfy in a van with airco. The visit to the Park lasts for around 2,5 hours in a safari car. We were so lucky to find so many elephants and baby elephants on our tour. They were the reason why we went to visit this place as we were dreaming of seeing elephants for the first time in life. Aren’t they cute? 

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It was time to take an Ayurvedic massage after almost a week of surfing and traveling. Have you heard about Ayurvedic massage? It is an ancient massage technique that combines massages with spices, medical plants and essential oils that will rejuvenate you right after you leave the SPA. We chose a nice SPA in Mirissa. Mirissa is another surfing village near Weligama, where the surfing vibes are all around. We went shopping after the massage to some local shops looking for spices, cinnamon, tea and fine clothes and refuel ourselves with a good cappuccino at Jungle Cats. Both Mirissa and Weligama have plenty of surf shops where you can rent or buy all the surfing equipment you might need while in Sri Lanka. We recommend you Dylan’s surf shop (in front of the Marriott hotel in Weligama) and avoid the hassle of traveling with your surfing boards. There are also a couple of nice organic cafes in this area where you can eat some healthy food and drink some coffee or tea after surfing. 

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Best Longboard Surfing Spots

There are plenty of virgin and pristine beaches in Sri Lanka and surfing spots, however if you are looking for the best longboarding spots our recommendation is to visit the ones below:

Arugam Bay area: Arugam Bay (long right point), Pottuvil point (long right point), Peanut Farm and Okanda (also right points).

SouthWest Coast: Hikkaduwa (Main Reef point and North Jetty point), Midigama (mellow left) and Mirissa (right point with the famous palms around you where you can also watch whales).

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Once you found your favourite spot and enjoyed surfing the waves, ask a local for some fresh coconut water directly from the palm trees. Refreshing and healthy! The best way to go from one surfing spot to another is by Tuk Tuk, the local transport of Sri Lanka. Actually it is the best transport to go anywhere on the island! Just make sure you agree on the price with the driver before starting the ride. 

We still had some more to visit in Mirissa after a surfing session. Its famous Coconut Tree Hill. The nicest side of visiting this hidden place is snorkeling while watching turtles and enjoy a great avocado toast afterwards in cool terrace overseeing the ocean. Just tropical! 

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After so many waves during sunrise and sunset for almost 2 weeks, the end of our surf trip was about to end. During the last night of our stay in Weligama we went out for dinner to a beautiful restaurant in Mirissa beach. The tables of the restaurant are directly on the sand and you can choose the fish you wanna eat before they serve it to you. They also have very good cocktails and live music. This was the best way to end our time in Weligama. Even though Weligama beach wasn’t our preferred surfing spot, we totally recommend staying there as a base to explore and surf all the area. Weligama is right in the middle of the SouthWest coast and very well connected by road, train and bus with the main places to surf and explore. 

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Colombo in 2 Days

After a 3 hours drive from our surf hotel in Weligama Bay, we arrived to Colombo, the capital of the Sri Lanka and where we first started this adventure. The best way to explore Colombo is by foot, even though you can of course move around by Tuk Tuk. We stayed at the 1st hotel built in Colombo, The Grand Oriental Hotel. It is a colonial style hotel overlooking Colombo port. From its restaurant you can see the magnitude of this worldwide known port while you enjoy your breakfast. One of our favourite highlights of Colombo was the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, also know as the Red Mosque located in the Pettah district.

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Colombo has 2 main districts, Fort and Pettah. In Fort you will find all kind of colonial buildings built by the Dutch and British. The district gets its name from the traditional Portuguese fortification. Pettah is the commercial district with plenty of markets and local goods shops. We strolled around Colombo with Harold (from Colombo Walks). If you wanna know all about the history of Colombo and Sri Lanka, Harold is the go-to person. He is a super experienced local who will make you go back in time with his walking tour around Colombo. But his tour is not just about history as it ends with a very nice lunch in a local restaurant where you will really enjoy local food.

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Most of the traveling guides recommend the restaurant Ministry of Crab (inside the Dutch hospital building) as one the best restaurants in Asia. We’ve tried it and honestly, it isn’t the best 🙂 Skip it if you can, it is super pricy and the seafood is not the best we’ve tried! What you shouldn’t skip is the Colombo markets in Pettah district. This is a must! You will find amazing fine clothes, spices, fruits and teas. Do not skip this one and you will fly back home with amazing smells from this market 🙂 There are also plenty of Buddhist Temples around Colombo that you can visit. 

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And yes, our Sri Lanka trip ended, so we headed back to the airport. Colombo airport has several security checks (we counted at least 4 before you get into the plane), so be prepared for this 🙂 Also, make sure you spend all your remaining cash before arriving to the airport as in most of the exchange offices at the airport they run out of Euros in cash! Unless you wanna keep some rupees (or dollars) as a souvenir, you better drink a last couple of cocktails at one of the hotel roof terraces in Colombo. Take many photos… we couldn’t find a single nice postcard in Sri Lanka to be sent to our friends… 🙂

 

Prices in Sri Lanka

We want to share with you some examples of common prices in Sri Lanka so you get an idea of the cost of living in the island:

  • Safari Day trip to Udawalawe National Park from Weligama (including lunch) costs 125 EUR per person.
  • Taxi to Colombo city from Weligama Bay costs 70 EUR.
  • Surfing leggings at Dylan’s surf shop in Weligama Bay 46 EUR.
  • Tuk Tuk from Weligama to Mirissa 1.75 EUR

Overall Sri Lanka is not an expensive country except from the touristic areas and facilities. 

 

About Rebel Surfcamps

Rebel Surfcamps is a thoughtful and innovative surf travel guide website based in Spain that connects keen travellers with the best surf camps, surf schools and surf accommodation in the dreamiest surf destinations around the world.

Our aim is to make the process of booking a surf vacation in Sri Lanka or anywhere else as effortless as possible, whilst also following through with our promise to make every trip an inspiring and enriching experience.

So if you’ve ever dreamed of surfing in Mirissa, surfing in the Weligama Bay or booking a surf trip in Sri Lanka, reach out and contact Rebel Surfcamps by filling out our contact form today.

Get in touch and let us know you’re down to surf good waves, meet new friends and make memories that’ll last a lifetime with the best of them.

We hope you enjoyed this guide and perhaps visit the island very soon! We will be glad to take you with us in our next group surf trip to Sri Lanka in February 2022. We also want to leave here a big Thank you to the amazing group of people we’ve met during this surfing trip, for sure friends for life. Aloha!

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Best Longboard Surfing Spots in Sri Lanka

Best Longboard Surfing Spots

There are plenty of virgin and pristine beaches in Sri Lanka and surfing spots, however if you are looking for the best longboarding spots our recommendation is to visit the ones below:

Arugam Bay area: Arugam Bay (long right point), Pottuvil point (long right point), Peanut Farm and Okanda (also right points).

SouthWest Coast: Hikkaduwa (Main Reef point and North Jetty point), Midigama (mellow left) and Mirissa (right point with the famous palms around you where you can also watch whales).

Once you found your favourite spot and enjoyed surfing the waves, ask a local for some fresh coconut water directly from the palm trees. Refreshing and healthy! The best way to go from one surfing spot to another is by Tuk Tuk, the local transport of Sri Lanka. Actually it is the best transport to go anywhere on the island! Just make sure you agree on the price with the driver before starting the ride. Just tropical! 

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Get in touch and let us know you’re down to surf good waves, meet new friends and make memories that’ll last a lifetime with the best of them. Aloha!

Read More

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Surfing in Portugal

A Surfer’s Guide to Portugal

Want to know all there is to know about surfing in Portugal? Then check out Rebel Surfcamp’s surfing guide to Portugal below or get in touch for more information on how to find and book a surf camp in Portugal.

Portugal is perhaps the best country in Europe to visit if you’re a surfer thanks to its enviable climate, great variety of waves and the almost endless amount of surf camps and surf schools for you to choose from.

It also enjoys a rich and illustrious surfing history dating back to the 1920s, during which time “bodyboarders” were filmed riding breaking waves to shore off the coast near Porto.

This footage of people surfing in Portugal is now thought to be the oldest surf film in European history.

Fast-forward to the modern era and Portugal is one of the surfiest countries in the world, with a number of high profile surfers such as Nic von Rupp and Carol Henrique, west and south facing coastlines and a reasonable cost of living relative to the rest of the continent.

All of which adds up to make Portugal a veritable playground for surfers from Europe and around the world.

Surf Regions in Portugal

Given Portugal’s unique geographical location and its plus 600 km of exposed coast, it nearly goes without saying that there are plenty of surf regions for you to discover. And since most of them lie below 40° North, you won’t have to deal with those howling mid-latitude west winds or the often relentless fronts that lash northern Spain, France and the Isles.

You will, however, get to enjoy the swell the send down.

Drive anywhere north of Lisbon and you’ll run into famous surf breaks such as big wave break Nazaré, the always-hollow Supertubos in Peniche and the many reefs, slabs and beachies that give Ericeira the title of Europe’s Margaret River.

No transport though? No problem! Lisbon also boasts a couple of very scenic and very iconic beachbreaks – Guincho and Carcavelos – for you to sample.

If you’d prefer something a little slower paced in terms of surf and lifestyle though, you can always head south and explore the many gems Portugal’s Algarve region offers, such as Arrifana Beach near Aljezur and the surf town of Sagres.

Travel Basics for Portugal

Portugal is an incredibly beautiful destination for travellers looking to book a surf camp in Europe.

One of the reasons why it’s so popular in addition to its great reputation for surf is its dry Mediterranean climate, which provides mild winters, hot summers and 2.5 to 3.2 thousand hours of sunshine a year – roughly double the amount of the United Kingdom.

Fantastic weather aside, Portugal is also easy to visit given that it’s part of the European Union (EU). This means EU and Non-EU travellers can enjoy open borders and not have to worry about exchanging money, since its official currency is also the Euro.

Still need to keep in touch with friends and family while at your surf camp in Portugal? Well you’ll be thrilled to know the country boasts a great 4G mobile network with plans for 5G to be rolled out in the coming years. Major service providers include MEO, NOS and Vodafone.

Couple the country’s great mobile coverage with the fact it’s got some of the fastest internet in the world (beating out Australia, France and Italy), it’s no wonder Portugal is considered one of the easiest countries to stay connected in

Surfing in Portugal

Portugal runs the whole gamut when it comes to conditions and types of waves. This makes it a consistent all-year round surf destination and one of the best places to book a surf camp if you’re looking to maximise your time in the water.

The best season to visit Portugal for surf though runs from November to April. It’s during this window that the country’s rugged coastline is lashed with swell sent down from wild mid-Atlantic storm systems and the almost endless crowds that arrive during the warmer months begin to dissipate.

That being said, beginners will most likely enjoy the surf on offer during these warmer months, since it’s typically much more tame. This makes booking a surf camp in Portugal or linking up with a local tour guide worth the extra money, since they’ll know where to find a lineup that isn’t populated by what can feel like the rest of Europe.

In regards to water temperature, Portugal is far from a tropical destination. You do, however, have options.

If you prefer water more akin to that of a warm bath, then the country’s southern coast is the place for you with temperatures from July to September reaching around 22°C – boardies weather for all!

On the flipside though, the western coast of Portugal between the months of January and March has been known to dip below 15°C, so don’t throw away that 4/3 wetsuit just yet.

Surfing North of Lisbon

The surf town of Ericeira, Supertubos in Peniche and the world’s premier XXL wave spot Nazaré are all located north of Lisbon.

For those of you who like easy access to a wide variety of world-class waves, including one of Europe’s most famous points Coxos, Ericeira can’t be beaten.

Other waves of note in Ericeira include the beachbreak of São Lourenço, a crazy slab called The Cave and an incredibly consistent righthander by the name of Ribeira D’Ilhas.

Taking all of this into account, it’s easy to see why Ericeira is regarded as the hub of performance surfing in Portugal.

It was also declared a World Surf Reserve in 2011; thereby ensuring its beauty will be preserved for generations to come.

Further north of Ericeira and about 90 minutes from Lisbon is Supertubos, which is a hollow beachbreak adjacent to the town of Peniche.

Supertubos is the site of the World Surf League’s Rip Curl Pro; held every year in roughly the same location dependent on the banks. This alone is a testament to the quality of waves it produces, however, if you’re looking for something a bit mellower the beachbreak of Baleal about 10 minutes north is a bit more forgiving.

Last but not least we have Nazaré – the undisputed heavyweight when it comes to XXL surfing. Known as the ultimate proving ground for big wave surfers from all around the world, Nazaré’s unique underwater geography attracts massive Atlantic swells to the shore like a magnet where they can stand up as high as 100 feet plus before breaking only metres from its foreboding cliffs.

A must see if you’re in Portugal during the months of November to February. But perhaps swap the board out for a camera if you visit… unless you’re feeling lucky, that is.

Surfing in Lisbon

If you’re planning on surfing in Lisbon you’ll be happy to know that you’ve got plenty of beaches to choose from.

Two of the best surf beaches in Lisbon to find waves though are Carcavelos and Praia do Guincho – the first of these being the birthplace of surfing in Portugal, located only 20 minutes from the centre of Lisbon.

Beginners will be able to surf Carcavelos when it’s smaller while admiring the iconic São Julião da Barra Fort. Word of warning though it can get crowded… it is a city beach after all.

Once the swell kicks up over 4 foot, expect to see the more experienced surfers rule its barrelling waves.

Praia do Guincho on the other hand is located in Cascais, which is about as far north as you can go without leaving the city. It’s at this beautiful beach where you’ll be able to find some of the best waves for learners within Lisbon’s limits.

The only problem is that Guincho very exposed to the northerly winds, so make sure you’re there for the early morning and late afternoon glassoffs.

Surfing South of Lisbon

The coastline south of Lisbon is home to a plethora of beautiful beaches and of course, drumroll please… the breathtaking Algarve region of Portugal!

Long regarded as the ultimate place to learn to surf in Europe, the Algarve is blessed with glorious weather, a pristine coastline and secret waves sheltered away in sunny coves at the bottom of a striking ochre coloured cliff.

Sagres, which is located where Portugal’s west coast meets the south coast, is the epicentre of surfing in the Algarve. With nearly more surf camps, surf schools and surf hostels within the town than the entire Algarve combined, it is popular amongst surfers of all skills levels.

Easy access to two different coastlines also means you’ll most likely always have somewhere to surf. Check out Praia do Martinhal and Praia da Mareta for some fun beginner waves or Tonel Beach and Beliche if you’re looking for a break with a bit of oomph.

When it comes to consistent beach breaks in the Algarve, it’s also worth visiting Praia do Amado and Arrifana if you’re in the region.

Situated about 15 and 30 minutes north of Sagres respectively, Praia do Amado and Arrifana both offer protection from those crazy north winds and generally have good sand banks, which makes them a safe bet to check when there’s swell.

Arrifana even has a righthand pointbreak called Kangaroos that breaks when it’s big, not to mention it’s shielded from nearly all wind directions except the westerly’s and southwesterly’s, making it a great backup spot when everywhere else is blown out.

Surf Trip Essentials for Portugal

Surf trip essentials for Portugal include knowing that prices and opening times for restaurants and bars depend on the season. The good thing here though is that some of the best waves are found during the low season that runs from December till the beginning of March, which means everything is noticeably cheaper during this period.

If you’re trying to work out a daily budget, try to aim for about €30 – €120 per night for lodging (prices vary depending on your level of accommodation) and €30 – €50 per day for a rental car.

In terms of the food in Portugal you can expect to spend as low as €10 per day if you’re cooking for yourself or as high as €80 if you’re eating out three times a day.

While we’re on the topic, it’s worth mentioning that Portuguese cuisine is especially hearty with an emphasis on freshness and richness.

The regional dishes change of course depending on where you are in the country, but if you’re hugging the coast you’ll find that octopus, squid and bacalhau are often on the menu.

What’s bacalhau you ask?

Bacalhau is Portuguese for codfish and somewhat of a national treasure. It can be barbecued, canned or baked and goes well with potatoes and rice plus a multitude of other side dishes. In fact, there’s a rumour that there are about 365 ways of making bacalhau plus another 1,000 ways of serving it, so you could eat a different variation of it every day of the year if you wanted to.

In addition to the excellent selection of waves in Portugal, its cheap cost of living and its fantastic array of regional food and delicious local produce, it also offers travellers plenty of things to do when the waves go flat. This includes some awesome hiking trails in the Costa Vicentina National Park, tours of significant sites such as The Palacio Nacional da Pena in Sintra and plenty of cute little towns to get lost in, such as the ‘village beneath the boulders’, Monsanto.

Alternatively you can just kick back on one of the Portugal’s many golden sand beaches and enjoy the warm Mediterranean-esque sun while being cooled by that refreshing Atlantic sea breeze.

About Rebel Surfcamps

Rebel Surfcamps is a thoughtful and innovative surf travel guide website based in the Netherlands that connects keen surfers with the best surf camps, surf schools and surf accommodation in the dreamiest surf destinations around the world.

Our aim is to make the process of booking a surf camp in Portugal or anywhere else as effortless as possible, whilst also following through with our promise to make every trip an inspiring and enriching experience.

So if you’ve ever dreamed of surfing in Lisbon, surfing in the Algarve or booking a surf camp in Portugal, reach out and contact Rebel Surfcamps by filling out our contact form today.

Get in touch and let us know you’re down to surf good waves, meet new friends and make memories that’ll last a lifetime with the best of them.

Read More

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Surfing in Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is know as the European Hawaii.

Fuerteventura is located on the East side of the Canary Islands and offers all year round Atlantic swell.

Fuerteventura has great weather and warm water temperature, 28 degrees average during the summer months and 22 degrees during the winter. Summer nights are never below 15 during the winter months. During the summer you can even surf without your wetsuit. There is plenty of good restaurants and nightlife what makes this wild island a perfect destination for an awesome and unforgettable group surf trip. There are surf spots for all levels, beginners, intermediate and advanced surfers. We will take you to the best surf spots based on the Ocean conditions and your surfing level.

For beginners

Fuerteventura offers surf spots

such as Playa Morro, Playa Blanca and El Cotillo. For those with an intermediate level, Bajo del Medio, Punta Blanca and Las Caletas are fantastic surf spots. El Hierro and Los Lobos can be surprising surf spots for advanced surfers during the winter. Roads are good in Fuerteventura, but if you want to surf undiscovered spots, you might need a 4×4 to explore even further.

Fuerteventura also offers a diverse range of activities you can enjoy after surfing: quad biking, buggy on the sand dunes, fishing, diving and even dolphin watching trips! Exploring El Cotillo, a day trip to Lanzarote (only 20 minutes by ferry), Isla de Lobos, could be the highly recommended places to visit after your surfing.

If you would like to surf in Fuerteventura, take a look at our surf trip to the island and get in touch with us here.

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