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Surfing in the Canary Islands: Your Guide to the Best Waves

by Octavia Drughi

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Europe’s answer to Hawaii, the Canary Islands are a place of endless summer. Off the coast of northwest Africa, the Spanish archipelago consists of seven major islands with year-round warm weather and consistent surf.

Over 100 top-notch waves, point breaks, reefs, and beach breaks, lefts and rights, and numerous surf camps in the Canary Islands welcome surfers from far and wide.

Thanks to their location, only a few degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer, the islands are exposed to powerful swells generated by the North Atlantic, as well as strong offshore winds. This translates into epic conditions for all water sports, including surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddling, and bodyboarding.

With a laid-back vibe, historic old towns and vibrant nightlife, each of the Canary Islands has its own unique personality. There are fun and mellow waves as well as many fast and powerful waves. 

From Fuerteventura and Lanzarote to Gran Canaria and Tenerife, let’s take a look at the best waves in the Canary Islands:

 

When to go surfing in the Canary Islands

surf-canary-islands

The main surfing season in the Canary Islands lasts from September through April. The consistent swell and the warm, sunny weather during these months attract a large number of tourists, which means the beaches can get crowded. But don’t worry, there are plenty of surf spots for everyone.  

The best waves hit the Canary Islands between November and February. This time of the year is recommended for more experienced surfers. Summer months, from May through August, receive smaller swells, but some spots can go flat. Not for long, though. 

The water temperature in the Canary Islands is much warmer than the in the UK or France, hovering around 71 °F (22 °C) in summer and 64 °F (18 °C) in winter. In summer, you can surf rubberless. If you plan to surf in winter, then you’ll need a 2mm or a 3/2mm wetsuit. You should also wear booties to protect your feet from the jagged rocks on the bottom and urchins.

Check out our guide to the best surfing seasons around the globe.

 

Surfing in Fuerteventura

surf-el-cotillo-fuerteventura-spain

The second largest of the Canary Islands, located only 56 miles (90 km) off the African coast, Fuerteventura’s lunar landscape and desert-like scenery are simply mesmerizing. Fuerteventura’s north shore has been called Europe’s Hawaii, which pretty much sums up the quality of the waves here.

Strong offshore winds generate awesome waves in the mornings and afternoons, offering some of the best surf in the archipelago. Even though the waves can be heavy, they are suitable for those who are still learning to surf as well as for those looking to take their wave riding skills up a notch.

Go on a surf camp for beginners in Fuerteventura!

Best time to go: All year round, although the best waves can be found from autumn through spring.

 

The Bubble

Recommended for: Advanced surfers

surfing-fuerteventura

Photo credit: casamaccaroni.com

A powerful right-hander in front of Majanicho, in the municipality of La Oliva on the north coast of Fuerteventura, The Bubble is a fast, shallow and hollow reef break. On a good day (bigger swell and offshore wind), it offers some world-class tubes.

The epic waves break over a sharp rocky reef and are the closest to Hawaii’s famous waves you can get to on the Canary Islands. The Bubble works on a north or north-easterly swell and puts on its best performance when waves are over 4-6 ft (1.2-2 m) tall. It works best at low to mid tides.

 

Los Lobos

Recommended forAll levels

los-lobos-fuerteventura

Los Lobos is the longest wave in the Canary Islands, offering rides up to a third of a mile (500m) long. These waves break over a sharp and shallow reef at the foothills of an old volcano on the small islet of Los Lobos, north of Fuerteventura. Beware of wiping out over the jagged reef. Also, sharks are known to frequent the spot. 

The surf spot has a variety of sections, making it suitable for all levels of surfers.

To get here, you need to take a ferry from the harbor at Corralejo. Please be advised that this is a one day trip off the main island of Fuerteventura to a moonscape island where there’s virtually nothing except the waves and black-sand beaches. Pack all your essentials, including sunscreen and booties.

Los Lobos is a versatile surfing spot, with right-hand waves that can reach 13ft (4m) and work best at low to mid tide.

 

El Hierro

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

el-hierro-fuerteventura

Photo credit: hellocanaryislands.com

The most famous surfing spot on Fuerteventura, El Hierro is a powerful left-hand wave found on the north shore of the island, right next to Majanicho Beach.

Due to its fame and the high-quality of the waves, it is one of the busiest spots in Fuerteventura. Luckily, there are two main peaks here, which make handling the crowds a bit easier. The left-hander is a fast, powerful wave, whereas the right-hander is shorter and offers some barreling sections.

El Hierro puts on its best performance between September and May. It works well on all tides, as it breaks over reasonably deep water. Booties are recommended.

 

El Cotillo

Recommended forAll levels

surf-el-cotillo-fuerteventura

One of the few beach breaks in the Canary Islands, El Cotillo is a fun, mellow wave suitable for beginners and intermediates. However, on a big swell, it can get pretty aggressive, producing some sweet tube sections that more advanced surfers will enjoy.

The long sandy beach offers both right and left waves, and the long whitewater waves are great for surfers taking their first steps on the board.

Wanna have a taste of the waves on the mainland too? Read our guide to the best surf spots in Spain.

 

Surfing in Lanzarote

lanzarote-canary-islands-spain

To the north of Fuerteventura, 78 miles (125km) off the coast of Africa, Lanzarote is one of the smaller Canary Islands. That doesn’t mean it’s any less popular. It even has its own international airport – Arrecife.

Join a surf camp in Lanzarote!

Best time to go: All year round. The swell, weather and surf conditions on Lanzarote are almost identical to those found on Fuerteventura. Lanzarote is a swell magnet, and you are bound to find good surfing conditions throughout the year. Expect powerful waves from October through March. 

 

Famara Beach

Recommended for: All levels

surf-Famara-Lanzarote-Canary-Islands

In northwestern Lanzarote, right in front of the quaint seaside town of Caleta de Famara, Playa de Famara stretches for 3.7mi (6km) and is one of the best beginner surf beaches in the Canary Islands. Famara is widely considered one of the best surf spots in Spain as well. This beach break offers something for all levels – it is mellow and forgiving during summer, and can become quite challenging in winter. 

For beginners, the best time to surf at Famara Beach is in summer and early autumn. Winter months can bring powerful swells, which generate bigger and punchier waves for more experienced surfers. 

 

El Quemao

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

surf-quemao-lanzarote

Photo by Thomas Frank

A hardcore surfing spot, when El Quemao is firing you can literally see it breaking from miles away. Powerful and dangerous, only experienced surfers should tackle this one.

On the northwest coast of Lanzarote, across the fishing village of La Santa, El Quemao is considered one of the best waves in the world. These hollow waves powered by the Atlantic offer a thrilling succession of deep, fast tubes. Often regarded as the Canary Islands’ answer to Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline, waves often reach over 16ft (5m).

The best conditions to surf El Quemao can be found between October and March, at high tide.

 

Morro Negro

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

surfing-lanzarote

Photo credit: surfsanctuary.co.uk

North of La Santa, Morro Negro is a right-hand point break with a rocky bottom. When it is firing, it offers long rides up to 1,000ft (300m). It starts to work from 3ft (1m) up and can produce waves up to 16ft (5m).

There are two waves at Morro Negro: a barreling right-hander and a longer left-hander. Both produce some neat tubes. A popular surf spot among local and traveling surfers alike, Morro Negro is recommended for experienced surfers.

 

La Santa

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

surf-la-santa-lanzarote

Photo credit: surfsanctuary.co.uk

On the northwest coast of Lanzarote, La Santa offers both a fast and explosive right-hand reef break as well as a long and tubing left-hand wave. A dangerous and rather challenging surf spot, this one’s recommended for experienced surfers. Also, it is wise to go with a local or someone who knows the take-off points. The sea is strong and the bottom is steep. Booties are highly recommended.

La Santa works best on mid to high tides, and the best conditions can be found between September and May.

 

Surfing in Gran Canaria

las-palmas-gran-canaria-spain

According to research by Syracuse University, Gran Canaria’s capital of Las Palmas is the city with the best weather in the world.

Best time to goAutumn and winter. However, you’ll find quality waves at any given time of the year.

 

El Confital

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

el-confital-gran-canaria

Without any doubt one of the best waves in the Canary Islands, El Confital is also considered one of the best breaks in Europe. This fast and powerful right-hand reef break is extremely hollow, allowing for some awesome barrels.

Located within the capital city of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, this long wave breaks over a volcanic ledge and is recommended for experienced surfers. Being so popular, El Confital Beach can get very crowded, especially during weekends. But, thanks to the multiple take-off points, you can easily find your way around the crowds.

Consistent throughout the year, the best conditions to surf El Confital can be found between September and May at high tide.

El Lloret

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

surf-gran-canaria

Close to Las Cantebras Beach, on the northeast coast of Gran Canaria, Lloret is an urban wave with easy access. This right-hand point break is one of the most consistent waves on the island.

The best time to surf El Lloret is between October and May.

Playa del Ingles

Recommended forBeginners and intermediate surfers

kitesurfing-gran-canaria

Photo by Tobias Scheck

On the south coast of Gran Canaria, Playa del Ingles is a sandy beach with several mellow waves. The beach break is a summer destination, as the strong trade winds produce some fun waves for beginners to play.

Playa del Ingles works in summer too, as long as there’s an easterly swell.

 

Surfing in Tenerife

surfing-tenerife-spain

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, home to the busiest Spanish resorts, which welcome over 5 million tourists each year. This rugged volcanic island with black sand beaches and a year-round warm climate is a favorite winter escape among European surfers.

Join a surf camp in Tenerife!

Best time to go: There is reliable surf all year long, but the best time of year is during winter months. Between October and February, the north coast of Tenerife receives powerful waves. Water temperatures range between 66-73 °F (19-23 °C) throughout the year.

The Spanish Left (La Izquierda)

Recommended forAdvanced surfers

surfing-tenerife

Photo by Glen.Meye

An internationally renowned break, this awesome left-hand wave is better known by the name of ‘La Izquierda’, meaning ‘The Left’ in Spanish. Located right in the heart of the largest tourist resort on Tenerife, Playa de las Americas, the Spanish Left is not recommended for beginner surfers.

Less experienced surfers will find some excellent bodyboarding and stand-up paddle boarding spots along the coast.

La Izquierda breaks on a lava platform, with an unforgiving sharp reef on the bottom, as well as urchins. On the bright side, it does offer some sweet barreling sections, some of the best in Tenerife. La Izquierda works on all tides and offers good waves throughout the year. However, the best conditions are between October and March.

Billboards

Recommended for: Intermediate and advanced surfers

surfing-tenerife

Photo by Victor Morell Perez

In front of the Metropolis bar on Playa de las Americas, Billboards is a classic right-hand reef break. Hollow, fast and powerful, it comes with a few dangers of its own: sharp reef and urchins on the bottom, as well as buoys. This spot can get crowded, especially on weekends.

La Fitenia

Recommended forIntermediate surfers

surfing-tenerife

Photo credit: wetstuff.wordpress.com

Another great surfing spot in the heart of Playa de las Americas, La Fitenia offers excellent rights and lefts that break over a sharp reef. When it is firing, it offers some incredibly long rides, over 500ft (150m) long.

La Fitenia is recommended for intermediate surfers, and produces a variety of waves, from fast to mellow.

La Fitenia is a very consistent spot, especially during spring and summer, and works on all tides.


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