Surfing San Sebastian & Mundaka Spain
San Sebastián is a small town on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s mountainous Basque Country where red wine flows freely and beautiful Spanish beauties walk proudly. It’s known for Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, beaches framed by a picturesque bayfront promenade, and world-renowned waves. In its cobblestoned old town (Parte Vieja), pintxo bars offering local wines with regional specialties.
San Sebastian is a fun wave and will hold plenty of swell. It sits right in the middle of town in San Sebastian about 30 minutes from the Spanish border. Get off the freeway and follow the signs to La Playa. You might get lost in the back streets but just keep asking people, “donde esta la Concha?”
There is actually a beach to the west of the main beach, you don’t want that one. The western beach has a much smaller swell window and doesn’t get half the size of La Concha.
Parking In La Concha
Try and find a parking spot at the north end of the beach against the cliff. There is also a paid parking structure two blocks off the beach, just follow the signs. It’s not that expensive and parking in a structure will offer a little more protection than out in the street.
Don’t leave any valuables in your car—they will disappear into the hands of someone other than yourself, forever.
Insider’s Tip. Try the People’s Cafe on the main beach at San Sebastian for an awesome post session beer and watch the other surfers while basking in the sun. The have excellent sandwiches and really fresh bread and cold beer.
You can’t miss the wave at San Sebastian, there is a left off the jetty and a fun right next to the rocks at the north end of the beach. Sometimes it breaks in the middle section too, depends on the swell.
This is a fun place to hang out for the day and you’ll be surprised how different Spain is compared to France, if that’s where you came from.
Surfing Mundaka Spain
If you have crossed the boarder into Spain you are not far from one of the premiere waves in Europe—Mundaka. The tides, wind and swell have to be just right but if you are lucky you might score this wave.
Mundaka is another hour or two past San Sebastian. Get back on the freeway, the AP-8 and head towards Bilbao. You’ll want to use your GPS once you get off the AP-8 and head towards Bermeo & Mundaka. Just in case you don’t have GPS, get off on BI-635 and follow the signs to Gernika-Lomo, then Bermeo & Mundaka. It get a little confusing on this road but you’ll find it eventually.
If there is a lot of swell I’d check it for sure, it needs 3-5 meters to work. Mundaka is situated on a beautiful cliff overlooking a breathtaking rivermouth. Look up the river and be blown away by the immense beauty of this place. The picture below was taken on a recent trip.
Once you are in Mundaka prepare yourself for a small maze of streets, work yourself towards the harbor—the main break is right in front of the harbor opening. If you have a van you can even camp right in the main parking lot above the break, but as always be respectful and if the police come to your vehicle offer to buy them a beer.
To get to the main break head toward to harbor and jump in next to the boats (see picture below) and paddle about 30 yards into the lineup.
Mundaka Hotels & Food
Insider’s Tip. The best place to stay in Mundaka is the Hotel El Puerto. I really love this family run hotel and you can’t find a better location.
The hotel is literally right next to the main break and for less than 100 euros you can watch the waves and sip a cerveza. Make a reservation at http://www.hotelelpuerto.com or give a jingle at 34 94 687 6725. I alway find that calling them on the phone is way more effective, especially if you need a hotel the next day or the same day.
If you like seafood then you are in the right place. There are only a few restaurants in town and they all serve more or less the same thing. I am a vegetarian and it’s always slim picking for me. Most of the time the waiters just laugh at me and walk away.
Mundaka The Wave
There is only one left in the world that compare—Chicama, Peru.
This wave is a thick meaty monster that throws in the middle and fires down the line lion a dragon. Check the middle and inside sections of the waves too, when the peak is crowded (almost always) the middle section can be super fun.
The crowds can be horrendous here, a full on slug fest at times and lots of aggression. The Spanish surfers do not hold their tongues and if you get in their way you might be throwing down with them.
But if you manage to pick off one wave and ride it all the way through it is worth the trip.
Mundaka doesn’t like the high tide, try and plan your tides accordingly.
Most people know Mundaka as a fun left, but if the sandbars are setup just right you can also surf a sweet barreling right.
When we were there in a recent trip we surfed some of the best right tubes of the trip. You just never know in Europe.
There is also a super fun beachbreak across the bay and a reef break near the island at the mouth of the river.
Do some exploring, you’ll be stoked!
Have a great trip, let us know what you think of the Wave Tribe Surf Travel Guide Series and don’t forget to check out Wave Tribe for great eco surfing gear before your trip.
Go out there and score some waves. Traveling will change your life and is one of the most precious activities you will ever do!
Derek Dodds, Founder Wave Tribe
[…] For more detail about surf tripping in Northern Spain see this article. […]