The Ultimate Guide to Hossegor Surf

by Tom Lacmundy

Ask anyone where to hit the waves in France and the Hossegor surf is sure have a mention. Quicksilver Pro comps meet hollow barrels on this corner of the Bay of Biscay, and there’s even lots for total beginners, particularly in the summer months.

Hossegor surf

Hossegor surf at a glance

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The good

  • Hardcore beach breaks
  • Great for intermediates and experts
  • Awesome nightlife and vibes

The bad

  • Hossegor’s main beaches get real busy in summer
  • You might find it’s a little expensive
  • No reefs or point breaks

This Hossegor surf guide is just one part of our bigger guide to surfing in France. Check that out for more in-depth guides to surf spots all over the country.

What’s in this guide to Hossegor surf?

An introduction to this Hossegor surf guide

Hossegor is the land of the epic beach break. Thanks to a colossal underwater canyon that strikes its way through this part of the Bay of Biscay, it’s possible for the waves here to hold up to 10 foot or more. For the most part, they are pounding shorebreaks, regularly hollow, often fast, and very challenging. What’s more, the direct west-facing orientation of the 5km of beachfront at Hossegor means the town is a veritable swell magnet. Northerly winter swells hit the beaches, so do straight on westerlies, and so do wraparound SW currents. Rare is the day when everything’s flat!

Waves in Hossegor

With all that in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that Hossegor has become a regular on the Quicksilver Pro and other major WSL circuits. These days, you’ll encounter a town that’s become virtually synonymous with surfing in France. Yep, everyone from Kelly Slater to upcoming youth riders can be seen carving switchbacks on the walls of La Graviere (one of the most famous Hossegor surf spots of all) during the main tour season.

However, Hossegor isn’t just for the experts. Families and total beginners will also find plenty to like. If that’s you, consider coming in the more relaxed summer months. Yes, the crowds are booming then, but you’ll get lovely waves for practicing at spots like La Sud, not to mention fun-filled nights of French wine and partying in the Atlantic beach bars. This Hossegor surf guide has all the info you need to get a-planning your trip to this famous wave-washed mecca of Europe. Let’s dive in…

Where is Hossegor?

Hossegor is sat at the far south-western edge of France. It’s officially a part of the Landes department, which ends at the mouth of the Ardour River just to the south of Hossegor itself. Biarritz – another famous French surfing haven – is less than 12 miles away. The nearest big city is Bordeaux, about two hours’ driving up the motorways to the north-east. The Bay of Biscay opens up right in front of the town – the engine room for the powerful shorebreaks that come in off the Atlantic Ocean.

A guide to Hossegor surf spots

Hossegor has become a byword for some 20-30 miles of the Landes coastline. When surfers mention the place, they’re often refering to all the beach breaks that run north to Moliets and south to Capbreton. Within Hossegor itself is where you’ll find the most famous spots, like big-wall Graviere. This guide runs through the whole shebang…

Moliets-et-Maa

Moliets waves

Moliets-et-Maa is actually a whole other town to Hossegor, although most surfers consider it to mark the northern end of the beaches within striking distance of the town. It’s also a cracking place to have on the radar if you’re keen to escape the crowds. The power of the Hossegor canyon does drop a little here, so there’s less power in the barrels. But there are still barrels. The beaches are at the mercy of shifting sandbanks. But they usually take their shape after the spring storm season to give pretty reliable conditions. Moliets Plage itself is so long that you’ll usually find a peak of your own to work on throughout the day. Whether it’s left or right or mushy is anyone’s guess. Scenery is lovely, with dunes and pine forests to boot.

We’ve got a more in-depth guide to Moliets surf – a must read if this one’s tickled your fancy!

Messanges

Messanges

A quick 10 miles through the Landes pine forests north of Hossegor can bring you to Messanges. It’s a chilled surf spot with similar sandbank breaks to Moliets-et-Maa. A few consistent shore breaks come into play on nice NW swells with 1-2m height. Look for them around the entrance to the beach from the car park. Rips are the main issue. Outside of the season there are virtually zero crowds. Woop!

Seignosse

Seignosse wave jump

Seignosse is the first arrow in the quiver that really starts firing those famous barrelling beach breaks that Hossegor surf is known for. It’s located just a few clicks north of Hossegor itself, spread out along a series of wide and wonderful beaches. There are four iconic named breaks in the area. Among them is Les Estagnots in the south (a heavy and fast hollow wave that holds up on the largest winter swells). Le Penon is also worthy of note, because on low periods it cooks up a rare French logger wave and has some nice mellow rides when conditions are right. Seignosse is nice and quiet outside of the main summer season.

Tempted by Seignosse, we’ve got a full guide to the surf there – check it out!

Les Culs Nus

Les Clus surf spot

Often overlooked because of its proximity to La Graviere surf spot, Les Culs Nus is a doozy of a wave for intermediates and over. Check the charts to make sure things are in order: NW swells, offsore easterly winds, low tide, 5-8 foot. When they are, you can expect a fast, fun wave that gets hollow and sectiony for nice rides.

La Graviere

All hail La Graviere surf. The most famous of all the Hossegor surf spots, this one’s been a mainstay on the Quicksilver Pro and other circuits for decades. And why not? It’s the epitome of a south Landes shorebreak: Heavy, challenging, grunty and unforgiving. It’s for experts only. Swells are prime at anything over 0.7m, but things get truly life-affirming at 2m+. That’s when you get the proper tubes and can watch pros get pitted from the shore. Best surfed when the tide is dropping because it’s basically non existent when it’s not. Rips are mega.

La Nord

If you thought La Graviere was big, just wait until you see La Nord. On the biggest winter days, this is the Landes nod to the North Shore. It can hold a whopping 5m or more in height, so it’s really only for the riders with the gun boards in tow and a jet ski driver brave enough to do the tugging.

La Sud

The rare offering of beginner conditions in Hossegor comes courtesy of La Sud. It’s at the southernmost end of the Hossegor Beaches, enjoying a touch of protection from the harbour walls and sandbank orientation. That cuts down the swell size in spring and autumn to give some decent head-high walls for beginners and improvers to challenge themselves. Lefts and rights come off the peaks. Rides tend to be short but fun. Summer can suffer from flat days, but there’s usually at least some whitewash around to practice on. Get in early to dodge the surf schools!

Capbreton

Capbreton plage

Capbreton’s waves are very similar to the Hossegor surf, only they need a bit more northerly angle in the swell to be accessible to anyone without the paddle power of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you should be good with the duck dive to come here. Good days mean waves of overhead or double overhead that curl fast, get steep and have very fast take off windows. The halfpipe-style wave of La Piste is probably the best in the area, but we have a full guide to all the other breaks on offer in Capbreton.

Check out our full guide to the surf in Capbreton if you’re thinking of heading here on your Hossegor trip

Where to stay when surfing in Hossegor

One upside of being perhaps the most famous surf town in France is that Hossegor has plenty of places to stay. You’ll probably want to be within walking distance of the beaches, which is fine because there’s everything from hostels to private townhouses to pick from…

JO&JOE HOSSEGOR ($)

Settle in to JO&JOE HOSSEGOR and you might never want to check out. Relaxed and welcoming, it’s a budget accommodation with a twist of the boutique. Just take that gorgeous garden. Hemmed in by scented pines, and dotted with communal eating areas and bean bags, it’s the perfect spot to meet and greet other traveling surfers in Hossegor. There’s an undeniable surf theme throughout too, along with plenty of space to store that board after a sesh.

Hôtel de La Plage ($$)

As the name implies, this lovely midrange hotel choice sits pearler on the beachfront of Hossegor. It’s a stone’s throw from La Sud at the harbour side, so near to one of the more accessible beginner breaks in the town. What’s more, the establishment has charming rooms that are cosy and tidy, along with a stunning patio that gazes straight out towards the Atlantic.

VILLA SEA AND SURF ($$)

Designed specifically for groups of traveling surfers, this lovely little bolthole in Hossegor town could be the perfect pad for your trip to the Landes coast. It’s really close (within 500m) of Central Plage, which means Graviere and Sud are both walkable. Inside, you get a comfy two-bedroom place with an open terrace for those pre-drinks before hitting the nearby bars.

When to surf in Hossegor

The Hossegor surf forecast usually has something to get stuck into. However, the seasons make huge difference on the swells and conditions, so it’s worth pinpointing the time that’s best for your level before you come…

Les Clus Nus spot in Hossegor

High summer (July-August)

Great for beginners

July and August are both the busiest and the flattest times of the calendar in Hossegor. The French school holidays see the local beaches fill with sunbathers and surfers. Surf schools boom with customers. Line ups fill. In terms of surf conditions, the waves are smaller than ever. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. It’s perfect for learners who want to practice, which occasional punch swells can fire up La Graviere. Some people do rash vest, but most are in thin 2mm suits or shorties at this time.

Winter (November-March)

A magnet for serious surfers

The shorebreaks of La Nord and La Graviere are at their annual peak in the winter. Strong W-NW currents come across the Bay of Biscay and roll through the submarine canyons to give extra pizzazz to the waves that Hossegor is most famous for. 2.5m+ is normal throughout December and January. Big wind changes and shifting sandbanks add to the challenge. Be fit. Know what your doing. Then, you might just catch the break of your dreams!

Autumn (September-October)

The Hossegor golden period

There’s a really lovely window after the summer rush and before the winter storm swells kick in that is just perfect for surfing in Hossegor. The locals often consider this the prime time to hit the waves. Conditions are regularly 1-2m (perfect for these Landes beach breaks) with long periods and lots of dry weather. The water temperature hits its yearly peak to boot, so a 2mm or even a shorty should do in Autumn.

Spring & early summer (April-June)

A transition season with something for all

Another sweet spot before the arrivals of the holiday crowds but with still plenty of kick in the canyon swells of the winter monts, spring and early summer cater to pretty much all levels of surfer. The early you go (April), the more likely you’ll catch barrels on La Graviere. The later (May) the better the waves for beginners. Prices will tend to be lower. We’d recommend a 3/2 and gloves and hood for early on just in case.

Surf shops in Hossegor

Don’t be surprised to find more surf shops in this French coast town than you can shake a crepe at! Some of the ones we’ve heard good things about include:

Olo Surfshop

Yes, it’s a little bit back from the coast, but Olo Surfshop is worth the visit. It has one of the best arrays of wetsuits in town, along with racks of epoxy hardware that could just hide the newest arrival to your quiver. You’ll also get to shop Patagonia outdoors gear, board shorts, rash vests and more.

Tao Magic Glisse Surf Shop

Tao Magic Glisse Surf Shop is conveniently located in the streets just above La Sud. It’s a go-to drop in for surfers needing leashes, grip pads, wax and other day-to-days. But there’s also a huge rack of boards for sale, ranging from logs to softies to twin fins. Head in for advice and some great surf stock.

Best places to eat in Hossegor

You’ll never go hungry if you’re on a surfing holiday in Hossegor. This isn’t some remote French village. It’s a major sports town with plenty of cafes and eateries up its sleeve. Here are some that might be worth check in out…

Café Bleu ($)

Choose Café Bleu for a coffee on your way to the Hossegor beaches and you won’t be dissapointed. A charming little cafe, it boasts a lovely terrace with timber walls and tables hidden between flower blooms. The juices, cakes, and hot drinks are the star of the show. However, there’s also a range of casual foods like burgers and open sandwiches.

Restaurant Le 6 ($$)

Just before the river mouth and a few hundred metres back from the beach, Restaurant Le 6 has a regionally-inspired menu that showcases the best in seasonal Landes cuisine. Veggies have options but so do meat lovers. The interior is rustic yet romantic. It’s a great midrange choice if you want to sample the local kitchen.

Jean des Sables ($$$)

Fine dining in the classic French style is the name of the game at this upmarket bistro. It’s located down on the seafront just by La Sud break, but we’d definitely recommend brushing up with a shower and a shave before dropping in for dinner – it’s not a salty hair sort of establishment. You’ll see that in the menu, which offers grilled pigeons and traditional Capbreton BBQ. Tasty as though…

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Hossegor

You don’t have to do nothing on those rare pancake-flat days in Hossegor. Nope, ditch the surf and try some of the activities below instead…

Day trip to Biarritz

Biarritz beaches in summer

Biarritz is the chic and stylish neighbour of Hossegor. It’s only 40 minutes away and comes with its very own selection of amazing surf beaches. If you’d prefer a rest from the swells, you can look forward to exploring a town of elegant cafes and bistros, with grand palace spa hotels dating from the 1800s marking the promenades. Lovely.

Walk the lovely Lac d’Hossegor

Hossegor Lac

There’s a chance to chill out between surf sessions over at Lac d’Hossegor. A tree-dotted spot of water, it comes threaded with pretty wetlands and little lake beaches. There’s a path that lets you stroll most of the way along the lake, not to mention boat rentals and charming cafes to crank up the R&R.

How to get to Hossegor

  • Fly: Biarritz Airport (BAB) is the closest arrival point. It’s just to the south and is linked to London airports and a whole host of other ports around Europe. Bordeaux Airport is also a fine place to jet to, but that leaves a two-hour transfer on the ground afterwards.
  • Train: You can hop on the high-speed TGV services from the French capital and get out at nearby Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse. From there it’s a 10-minute taxi to Hossegor. This is a good option if you’re not bringing your own wheels, although it’s a good idea to book a place to stay near the centre and not up by Seignosse or Capbreton – they are longer transfers from the station.
  • Drive: Lots of French, Spanish and English surfers will choose to drive to Hossegor. Thankfully, the town is only a short detour off the A63 motorway as it heads north-south from Bordeaux to the Spanish border. Expect journey times in the region of seven hours from Paris and just under 10 hours from the ferry port in Calais.

We’ve got way more in-depth surf guides to France to check out

If you can think of anything to add to this Hossegor surf guide, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. We’re always trying to update and add to it, so local recommendations and tips are welcome!

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