5 Perfect Destinations For Your First Family Surf Trip
The checklist for a family surf trip is very different to a surf trip with your mates or backpacking with a surfboard. To keep a whole family happy usually requires a short comfortable journey, accommodation with full facilities and surf schools to hand.With kindred harmony in mind here’s five of the best European family surf destinations.
Long, empty, sun drenched beaches, backed by mountainous sand dunes and fragrant pine forests. Family surf spots don’t get much better than Lacanau. Biarritz is fine for fashion models and high society, Hossegor is great for brave barrel-riders but Lacanau is perfect for a family surf trip.
Lacanau has two distinct areas; the beach, which is Lacanau Ocean, and Lacanau town, which is by the lake five minutes inland. At the north end of Lacanau Ocean is where the main holiday parks are, with chalets, motorhomes and camping pitches. These holiday parks are great value and are fully equipped with shops, swimming pools, children’s entertainment and more. Also at the north end you’ll find the best selection of surf schools and equipment rental. The north end requires a short walk across the dunes to the beach along the boardwalk, but it’s worth the effort as it keeps the crowds down and there’s still showers and lifeguards to greet you when you get there.
Lacanau Ocean town is small, clean and chock full with fabulous restaurants, ice cream parlours, surf shops and clothing boutiques. A great place to wonder, relax and enjoy some post surf refreshments. There is a beach in front of the main town and it’s good for surfing but it does get chaotic in peak summer.
To get to Lacanau head to Bordeaux by plane, train or car. Then it’s an hour drive all the way to the beach. Simple. It’s the perfect summer holiday location, even during peak season (mid-August) when the water’s warm and the sand is hot, Lacanau never feels overcrowded.
Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
The Dingle Peninsula in West Ireland feels unblemished by humans. It has a wild, natural and rugged quality that is unique. As you gaze across the land you’ll be filled with an inner peace, that makes you sigh with contentment. Dry-stone walls lead the eye across lush green fields that gently roll down to deserted beaches.
To get there head to Tralee and turn left, and you’ll soon find yourself in Dingle Town. A colourful fishing village full with arty shops, cafes, restaurants and Fungie the Dolphin. Fungie is a popular attraction and boat trips run on the hour so you can say hello. If you don’t see him the trip is free. Boats also visit Blasket Island where the fresh fish and lamb are unmissable. Dingle Surf, located in the town, has a surf shop and offers surfing or Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) lessons at all the major surf breaks.
As Dingle is a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic there’s surf spots to suit all weather conditions and levels. To the west is Coumeenoole, a clear water, pristine, sandy beach at the end of a beautiful scenic drive. To the east is Inch Strand, a dog leg of land with a long sweeping beach, backed by dunes and the mountains of Kerry. Head north and you’ll find Brandon Bay, a seven mile stretch of golden sand with waves for all levels, from a slow gentle beach break to a fast hollow reef break. It’s also home to Jamie Knox Watersports where you can get surfing, windsurfing and SUP lessons.
May to July is the best time to go as the weather is warm and the rain is less frequent. During the school summer holidays the small roads can get clogged with traffic and whilst August is the hottest month, it’s likely to rain at some point during your stay.
For tourists in search of sun, sand and Sangria the south east coast of Spain is a popular destination. However, to go surfing you need to head in the opposite direction to Galicia, the North West region of Spain. You’ll roam through rustic countryside and discover many beautiful beaches untainted by tourism.
The harbour city of La Coruña is a great place to base yourself as you can surf at the town beaches, watch Deportivo La Coruña play football at the prestigious Riazor Stadium, visit the home of Picasso or simply feast on La Coruna’s culinary delights.
Take a short drive east of the city and you’ll find one of the finest beaches in Galicia, Pantin. Crystal waters and sun-bleached sands, bordered by lush green hills make this one of the most attractive surf spots in the area, and the consistent quality waves make it a regular spot for competitions. West of La Coruna is Razo, an uncrowded surf spot with a tiny village but plenty of space and waves to share. Both Pantin and Razo are blessed with accredited surf camps where you can stay, get lessons or just hire surf equipment.
Best time to visit is late summer to early autumn when the weather is fine and sunny and the water is warm. It can get windy here, especially during winter and spring, but fortunately there’s always a sheltered cove to happily hideaway in.
The Algarve is more known for golfing holidays than surfing breaks, but this sunny southern corner of Europe hides some surprisingly good waves. Don’t let its popularity put you off. Whilst Faro and the usual brochure holiday destinations are crammed with high rise hotels, a short drive west and you’ll find a more traditional Portugal. Most of the surf schools are based in Lagos or Sagres.
Lagos is about an hour drive from Faro airport, and a great place to be based. It has a picturesque old town enclosed by a 16th Century wall, crammed with great restaurants, pretty piazzas and historic churches. Nearby are many stunning beaches and a short drive will lead you to Praia da Rocha, the Algarves first known and probably most popular place to surf due to its proximity to Lagos and Faro.
Sagres is situated at the extreme south western tip of Portugal, and feels like a remote rugged outpost. What it lacks in tourist creature comforts it makes up for in quality surfing beaches, stunning natural beauty and laid back ambience. There are three surfing beaches within walking distance of Sagres: Praia da Mareta, Praia do Tonel and Praia da Baleeira. Sagres offers a highly rated range of surf camps, certified surf schools and surf shops for all your surfing needs.
The Algarve is a great holiday destination all year round. Summer and springtime is fantastic for families. For the more experienced surfers, January and February are best for big waves and it’s still warm compared to the UK with temperatures around the mid teens.
North Cornwall, UK
Scotland, North East England, South Wales and North Devon all get great waves, but North Cornwall has the most consistent and warmest waves.
Cornwall is blessed with beautiful golden beaches, rugged cliffs and clean emerald waves. There are long open beaches such as Watergate Bay, Perranporth and Gwithian, that pick up all the Atlantic swells. When the weather gets wild, there are sheltered coves including Harlyn, Newquay Bay and St Agnes.
Fully accredited surf schools and lifeguards are resident at all the major beaches along the north coast. Newquay is an obvious choice for surfing, but if you head north to Watergate Bay or a little south to Perranporth a family friendly experience awaits.
Watergate is an exclusive little valley with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, the grand Watergate Hotel and the excellent Extreme Surf Academy. Perranporth is a small town with a wide range of restaurants, bars and shops. Hidden behind the enormous sand dunes is a good surf school, run by ex-professional surfer Sam Lamiroy.
Getting to North Cornwall is easy with flights to Newquay, trains to Bodmin, Truro and further west, plus car hire options are available. Go in the summer holidays and you’ll be greeted with crystal clear waves, pleasant weather and lifeguarded beaches.
Where to go?The five family surf destinations listed are all amazing places to catch the waves and they all have their unique points. Cornwall is perfect for a quick and easy break. Lacanau is the quintessential French summer surf break. Ireland offers natural mystical beauty and Celtic character. Galicia in Spain is the road less travelled for surfers and tourists. And the Algarve is the all season option for sun and surf. So there’s somewhere to go on a family surf trip in Europe any time of year.