SURFING IN LANZAROTE
For many surfers, Lanzarote is Europe’s answer to Hawaii. During the winter months, from October to March, when big powerful swells start firing off the reefs that surround the island, board packing beginners and professionals alike descend upon Lanzarote like birds migrating south.
Just like other visitors, they are partly drawn by the weather, as Lanzarote’s North African location often delivers sunshine and both air and water temperatures that simply can’t be matched in Europe proper. This alone obviously makes the whole process of surfing a far more pleasurable experience. But Lanzarote’s magnetic pull and formidable reputation as one of the most surf rich environments on the planet is attributable to factors other than just sunshine alone.
The violent, volcanic, collision over the centuries between hot lava and cooler water has formed over 20 reefs around the island, which essentially ensure that water breaks with both height and force — the kind of conditions that surfers crave.
As an island, Lanzarote also has no continental shelf, which can act as a drag on wave power. As a result the waves are effectively supercharged, firing in from deep water and hitting these shallow volcanic reefs to create an average swell height in winter of 6ft, and often much higher. Lanzarote also has many other attractions to occupy any down time, as well as the all-important laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty that appeals to many surfers. These ingredients all combine with the island’s manageable scale, ensuring quick and easy travel between surf spots, to create the perfect recipe for spectacular surfing. As a result surfing holidays in Lanzarote are growing in popularity year on year.
So where are Lanzarote’s sweetest surfing spots?
Resident surfers, understandably, are often reticent when it comes to revealing their favourites and any visiting rider should be aware that basic etiquette is advisable in many spots. But the islands more rugged and natural Northeast and Northern shorelines is where the main action is at. Nearly all year round, the sea here behaves in stark contrast to the relatively benign and placid waters normally found around the tourist resorts of the south.
During the winter these conditions are so good that beginners really need to confine themselves to the relative safety of the island’s longest beach at Famara. It’s no great hardship though as this is one of the most beautiful spots on the island, flanked by the islands highest mountain range, El Risco de Famara and offering views out to the neighbouring islands of Graciosa, Alegranza and Montana Clara.
Famara is also home to a number of surf schools and it’s the perfect spot for beginners as the surf here is a little calmer and more predictable, whilst the beach itself provides greater ease of access as well as a safe practice site. There’s a number of surf schools located here, all eagerly vying for the trade of would-be wave riders.
But whilst Famara has the reputation as the islands surf capital it is her north-shore neighbour, La Santa, which is really home to Lanzarote’s world-class waves. Here, experienced riders go up against renowned breaks, such as the ominously named Slab, a big powerful left breaking wave called El Quemao and the self-explanatory La Santa Right.
Just after the La Santa sports complex, where surf tuition is also on offer, lies another small bay, which is home to some serious surfing spots — including the infamous Morro Negro (Black Arab) break.
In total, Lanzarote offers some fourteen odd sites along this coastline that will test even the most experienced riders to the full, given optimum conditions. The island is also the perfect launching pad for surfaris to some incredible and otherwise inaccessible surf sites, such as Los Lobos, the Mirador del Rio and the neighbouring island of Graciosa.