The Capbreton surf is known as prime hunting ground for beach-break tubes. But there’s also more, including some seriously fantastic intermediate territory.
Capbreton surf at a glance
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- Big, barrelling beach breaks
- Great consistency
- Less-busy that nearby Hossegor and Biarritz
- Still busy in the peak seasons
- Some localism
- Hard paddle outs in winter
This guide is a part of our larger guide to surfing in France
What’s in this guide to Capbreton surf?
An introduction to surfing in Capbreton
Capbreton bridges the gap between two of France’s most iconic surf towns: Hossegor to the north and Biarritz (or, more specifically, Anglet) to the south. It’s a wonder it’s not as famous as its neighbours, because it occupies seriously prime wave territory. Running south from the mouth of the Passe du Boucarot, the coastline here clocks up over three miles in length. It’s known for its half-ruined WWII bunkers, but also for some pretty gnarly beach breaks…
Yep, beach breaks all, helped along by groins and sandbanks that chop and punctate this shoreline to oblivion. The result? A handful of heavy, slabby, fast barrels that can pit up and fizzle out in seconds. For seasoned boarders, they give adrenaline-pumping rides that could have you totally standing in the tube. Less experienced surfers in Capbreton might want to wait for the summer months, when there are some nice cruisy rights off the shore defences.
Where is Capbreton?
Capbreton is located on one of the prime sections of shoreline for surfing in France. It’s pretty much the last of the surf towns in Landes. Hossegor Beach – and all the awesome waves that go with it – begins just a little to the north. Biarritz and Anglet are just a little to the south. The nearest big city in France is Bordeaux – around 2.5 hour’s drive to the north-east. The closest city full stop is actually San Sebastian, just across the border in Spain.
A guide to the Capbreton surf spots
Capbreton surf is all about the heavy beach tubes. Yep: Shore breaks and more shore breaks bless this corner of the French coast, and this particular town has oodles of em’…
The name alone is legendary: Hossegor. Pro comps, French champs – they’ve been here and cut their teeth here. The breaks run northwards through the Landes coastline, offering a series of mushy shore swells right next to walled up barrels that attract names like Slater when the going’s good.
Read our full guide to the surf in Hossegor right now!
Le Miramar is known to hold the strong W-NW swells of the Bay of Biscay better than pretty much anywhere around the Hossegor and Capbreton coast. It’s protected by a perpendicular underwater canyon that sponges up the big waves and cools things as they hang into the bay. Not great when it’s small. Fantastic when the rest is maxed out.
Love them or hate them, the WWII bunkers that dot Santocha bay are now a veritable icon of the Capbreton. They certainly add a moody atmosphere to the surf spot that’s here. Formed by the big jetties that jut NW into the ocean, the breaks are left and rights. The latter is the longest ride and works best when its directly westerly on an easterly offshore wind. The lefts are a lot more challenging, but mainly because they finish up on a shallow section that’s more rock than sand. Injuries have been had. All tides work well at Santocha.
The chart-topping wave of Capbreton is La Piste. It’s got the same moxie as the waves of Hossegor that you find up on the Landes coastline. Basically, that means a heavy, hard and fast barrel that’ll pick you up and dump you on the shallow shore if you can’t tame it fast enough. It’s a challenging, expert spot that can handle triple overheads. Better just spectate if you’re unsure at all.
There are two breaks down at Oceanides, which sits right next door to the famous barrel at La Piste. Again, these are heavy, tubey shore breaks, but they’re not quite as challenging as their near neighbour. Sand bottomed and can hold up to swells of 2-2.5m very well. Rips are localism are the two main issues.
A nice rippable wedge that goes left and right pokes up at La Pointe on good N-NW swells. Further from the town, this is a semi-local’s spot that demands respect, as tempers flair when the going’s good. For some reason, La Pointe won’t handle the strong winter swells as well as its partners, so strike this one from the list when it’s 2m+.
Anglet is a big welcome to the Basque Country. It’s south of Capbreton, but within easy reach if you have your own car and surf rack. What’s more, it’s a major world surfing hotspot, with uber-famous beach breaks, mostly powered by shifting sandbanks. On the best days, you can find reliable barrels firing off. On bad days, it’s still pretty decent – Anglet is considered a haven for consistency, even on this coast!
Read our full guide to surfing Anglet right now
Where to stay when surfing in Capbreton
Capbreton has surf lodges and charming Landes B&B alike. Here are some options for staying near the beach that come highly recommended.
Hotel Océan ($$)
Super highly rated and also fantastically located for surfers down in the Capbreton harbour, this three-star hotel has family-sized and double rooms that shouldn’t break the bank. We love the outdoor decks and terraces, where you can sit and chill with a glass of white wine after a cracking sesh.
Ocean Garden Surf Lodge ($$)
Surfers cannot go wrong at this beautiful surf lodge. It’s close to all the major beaches of Capbreton and oozes style. Post-wave days are all about lazing by the pool in the shady garden or kicking it with other travelers in the communal dining are. Everything’s decorated to perfection, and prices are kept low thanks to the offering of bunk sleeping.
A charming, traditional B&B that’s placed in the bustling town centre of Capbreton, Cabareté Hotel is a little farther from the beaches. However, it makes up for that with its warm welcome, cosy rooms and quaint French feel.
When to surf in Capbreton
Reliability is key in Capbreton. Summer, winter, spring, and autumn there are waves in these parts. But not all seasons are made equal…
Capbreton’s busiest time coincides with the French school holidays. The beaches are full to bursting, but not necessarily with surfers. That said, line ups also swell, mainly with beginners. They come for the more relaxed W and SW wrap-around swells on the Bay of Biscay. Conditions tend to be much tamer and conditions are always cleaner as the wind dips.
- Wear: A 2mm or 3/2. Some will go with just a rash vest and board shorts.
Capbreton surf in the winter can be a hell of a challenge. Not only is it cold – averages in the 10s in the air are matched by bitterly chilly water in the Atlantic – but it’s also hardcore stuff when the NW storm systems show thier teeth. That’s music to the ears of the pros who chase the shore break barrels, because places like La Piste and Miramar are uber-consistent with big groundswells from around November onwards. It’s not the time to come if you’re just starting out as a surfer, though.
- Wear: 4/3 or 5/3 for longer sessions. Gloves, hood, booties are a must.
Ah, it’s simply lovely surfing in Capbreton in Autumn. The swells pick up a little as the Atlantic gets a little more attitude. What’s more, the crowds drop away and you can have some dawnies (particularly towards the end of the season) when it’s just you in the water. Wave conditions tend to be prime for intermediates, though October sees pretty heavy storms cook up the barrels on occasion.
- Wear: 3/2 but pack the booties and the gloves just in case.
When the weather starts to brighten up and the Atlantic chills a bit after wild winters, Capbreton sees another peak surfing period. Because a lot of the left-and-right wedges here are made by the sea-defence groins, you’re not so at the mercy of the changing sandbanks as you are up in Hossegor. That adds consistency, while line ups stay pretty emptier until at least early May. It’s a great option for beginners and improving intermediates.
- Wear: 4/3 and pack the gloves, boots and hood for colder sessions and dawnies.
Surf shops in Capbreton
Capbreton has plenty of surf shops, so don’t worry if you forgot to pack your wetsuit or want a whole new board for the riding. We can tip our cap to the following…
Little Hawai Surf Shop
Offering board rentals for as little as €10 for the whole day, the Little Hawai Surf Shop has long been a pitstop for surfers without their own gear in Capbreton. But the spot also sells stuff. Head inside for a wide range of NSP boards, leashes, grip pads and more.
Dadasurfboard is a custom shaper with a fantastic rep around Hossegor and Cepbreton. Makes lovely boards that ride smooth and have a nice vintage look. Also does repairs as fast as you like.
Best places to eat in Capbreton
The Capbreton surf can get tiring. Big barrelling shore breaks demand joules and joules of energy. Thankfully, there are some cracking kitchens to keep you fuelled up in Capbreton…
Le Spot ($)
One of the greatest things about surfing in France is that crunchy baguettes await when you’re done on the waves. Le Spot, which gazes across at the breaks at Miramar, takes care of your bakery needs. It’s got fresh-baked breads with all sorts of fillings, along with sweet pastries and breezy outdoor seating. The ultimate casual eat in Capbreton.
Another relaxed cafe, but this time a little further back from the beaches in the charming town centre of Capbreton, Nomads is a fantastic coffee and bread pitstop. Healthy pastas, poke bowls, roastery coffee, and baguettes are the name of the game. Indoor seating is lovely and cosy.
You can literally step out of the Atlantic and slide into Terramar within a few steps. A chilled, salt-wased cafe-cantina, it’s right by the coast and the surf breaks. The menu is also perfectly crafted for post-wave dining. It’s hearty and filling, with hotdogs, veggie burgers, and those all-important French fries. It’s also a cracking spot to see in the sunset with a cold beer and a vino.
Things to do when you’re not surfing in Capbreton
There are plenty of things to keep you busy if it’s flat on the Capbreton surf. From chic jet-setter towns to moody photograph spots, we’ve got you covered…
Biarritz is not to be missed. Glitzy and glamourous, it’s been a retreat for France’s A-listers since the 1800s. These days, you can come to see the grand spa hotels and enjoy a lunch at one of the prestigious fish bistros. Or, you can bring the board down and try out the waves that roll into the main Grande Plage!
Get up early to photograph the WWII bunkers on Capbreton beach. They’re a haunting sight to behold. Half crumbled and ruined, they ooze history and look uber-dramatic with the Pyrenees mountains rising in silhouettes in the distance.
This guide to surfing in Capbreton is just a part of our guide to surfing in France
If you can think of anything to add to this guide, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Seriously, anything goes, from cafes to hidden breaks.