2nd July 2019
Searching for Surf in Europe
On a quest to expand the LEARN 2 SURF network into Europe, founder Anthony Scholte (Ant) spent from February till mid May exploring the entire European west coast.
His goal was to personally inspect all of the most popular ‘learn to surf’ locations and to discover the alternative, lesser known, less crowded surf spots.
What info was he looking for?
Ant was very interested in the current state of the surf school industry in Europe, how schools operated within their country’s rules/regulations, whether the more popular locations had possibly outgrown themselves and to check out who is who in the European surf school zoo?
Why actually go?
Aside from epic surf trip was it necessary to spend so much time, money and effort in actually going to every beach on the West Coast?
Google can give you tons of info on surf spots, what weather conditions they require to work well, as well as huge lists with reviews for surf schools and surf shops in any surf towns. This is true. But Ant’s goal for LEARN 2 SURF was to go beneath the Google layer, to investigate deeper into the European surf scene. Ultimately, to get the inside scoop from the guys who live (and surf) there.
Ant met with local surfers, board-shapers, surf shop owners, surf school owners and coaches – and chatted to them about exactly what’s happening in the local surf scene in their towns. Sorry Google, ‘Local Knowledge‘ is always the most accurate source of information for any surf area.
Which areas did he explore?
It was an extremely comprehensive trip: Starting in the South West corner of Portugal, moving all the way up the West coast, around the North West corner of Spain and along the North coast, to the French Basque country. Then up the French West coast, out West and around Brittany, and finally, all the way from Normandy, through Belgium to The Netherlands.
(Although surf can be found on the Mediterranean coast, Ant’s search focused on the Atlantic coastline – as this, open ocean coast, receives the most consistent swell/waves – a crucial ingredient for surfing).
Overall trip conclusion?
Europe is an absolute goldmine of world class surf spots!
These spots range from super, safe, sand bottomed, beginner breaks, to countless coves with perfect point breaks, reef breaks, slabs and even giant, big wave spots. Europe has every kind of wave, for every kind of surfer!
Yes! Some spots get very crowded!
Surfers have been exploring the European coastline in greater numbers, since around the early 1960’s – and today many/most European surfers have their own transportation – and they can afford to travel. So you would think that all the best spots would have been discovered decades ago and would be totally overcrowded by now? Yes. This is true. They are. Especially surf spots near the larger towns/cities.
Avoid crowded beaches
Surfers can be like sheep – maybe it’s a ‘safety in numbers’ mentality, who knows? But contrary to this behavior, our top priority as a wave hungry surfer, should be to avoid crowds! Crowds are frustrating. Crowds mean more waiting and fewer rides. And more often than not, crowds are dangerous! Tempers can flare when waves are few (‘surf rage’ is a real thing), and the chance of a collision (the most common cause of surfing related injuries) is much higher.
What’s the good news?
The good news is – surfers can be like sheep – so while the majority flock to the crowded spots, there are still loads of surf spots all over Europe, where you can avoid the crowds. If you’re prepared to venture a bit further (20-40mins) down the road, a surfer’s paradise can be yours!
This is exactly what Ant did. And he met some incredible instructors, running super surf schools, at the best beginner beaches, and invited them to join the Learn 2 Surf network/family.
Check out our maps for PORTUGAL, SPAIN & FRANCE. All of the locations we have listed receive amazing waves and at many of them (if you follow our 5 Tips below) you can find solitude, in the most beautiful of surf set ups.
ANT’S TOP 5 SURF TRAVEL TIPS FOR EUROPE :
1. Avoid traveling during major holidays or peak summer season
Prices are cheaper and the waves are better in the winter months – and it’s far less crowded.
2. Avoid beaches near big cities or towns that are ‘famous’ for surfing
These spots get very crowded! The country/rural areas are absolutely beautiful, the locals are friendly and beaches are uncrowded.
3. Mobility is key – have your own transportation
Preferably a vehicle you can sleep in – to save accommodation costs.
4. Practice good surf etiquette and be friendly
Remember the locals have a wealth of surf knowledge which you won’t find online.
5. Use LEARN2SURF.net !
We’ve done all the searching for you! Simply check the locations of our surf schools, and use them as a guide for places to target on your next surf trip.
Bonus Tip: Avoid Toll Roads
They save you travel time – but you’ll be paying money to miss out on all the scenery and character of the country you’re visiting.
Stay Tuned! (Subscribe to our Newsletter)
We will be posting loads of local Tips & Info on ALL of the regions that Ant travelled through, in future blog posts and on our new schools’ pages as we upload them)