The Ultimate Guide to Caleta de Famara Surf

by Asia Kaczmarczyk

Caleta de Famara surf is perfect for all levels. It’s the best spot on the island of Lanzarote, with more than 7km of reliable beach break.

Caleta de Famara surfer

Caleta de Famara surf at a glance

The good:

  • Great for beginners
  • Reliable swells for much of the year
  • Dramatic mountain views

The bad:

  • Seaweed
  • Can get busy
  • Wind

This is a part of our greater guide to Lanzarote surf.

What will I find in this guide to Caleta de Famara surf?

An introduction to Caleta de Famara surf

The small town of Caleta de Famara (referred to as just Caleta or just Famara by the locals) is tucked under the wild volcanos of north-western Lanzarote. It looks over a wide scythe of beachfront that runs for 5km in total, beneath the craggy Risco cliffs. That’s where the surfing happens.

Towards the town end (the south end), the swell can be a little more relaxed, with smaller waves that have some protection from onshore winds. A few kilometres up the coast is where the breezes pick up – soon it’s only kitesurfers. You can find suitable peaks virtually the whole way along the sand, although we’ve found it to be a little shallow and washed out around the middle part of the beach.

A little urbanization sits huddled in the dunes midway along the shoreline. It’s home to surf schools and cafes and some great bungalows for rent. We actually think that’s the perfect place to stay on a trip surfing Lanzarote. We’ve done a couple of months in a little cabana there and woke every morning to the sound of the waves just five minutes’ walk from our front door.

Famara town itself is a charming spot. Far nicer than the out-and-out tourist resorts that string along the east and south coasts of the island, it’s a surfer’s haven. You’ll find quirky cafés and Canarian tavernas, along with sandy streets laced with board rentals and surf shops. Take. Me. Back!

Where is Famara town?

Caleta de Famara sits at the southern end of Penedo Bay. That’s on the north-western shore of Lanzarote – the opposite side of the island to most of the big hotels and resorts. It’s linked to the main town in the province – Teguise – by the LZ-402 road, which is usually empty and a pleasure to drive (apart from when the wind picks up). The great Risco cliffs rise dramatically to the north, and you can even see the smaller island of La Graciosa in the distance.

Caleta de Famara beginner surfer

A guide to all the surf spots in Caleta de Famara

Stretching for nearly seven kilometres from the town to the cliffs, Playa Famara has some of the most consistent waves on the island. Now, we’re not saying it’s perfect. It’s not. The breaks are often heavy, prone to closeouts, and get messy when the wind picks up (and it often does).

However, there’s a good variety of peaks to pick from. Visitors will usually see just a long stretch of waves that mash together. However, the locals have tried to name each sector of the beach to make them easier to grade. So, here we go…

El Codito

Intermediates / experts

The closest break to Famara town itself rolls in over some submerged rocks. It has the benefit of holding up on larger swells, so don’t be surprised to catch a few locals ripping it when the big N-NW storms come in during winter. It’s considered a bit more of an intermediate-expert break because of the hard bottom, but also the fact you’ll need to be able to time the tides ride to catch El Codito at its finest.

El Molino

Beginners

Mellow and welcoming El Molino is the break that really put Famara town on the Lanzarote surf map. Most days through the summer and winter, you’ll catch a surf school bobbing about in the whitewash here. That’s the key – the whitewash. It comes in over soft sand and forms quite a good water cushion. If you fall off, you’ll just get wet. The waves themselves don’t follow any left-right rules. They go both ways unpredictably, but offer the perfect little practice ramp for folk finding their surf feet.

El Palo

All levels

A little further up the beach brings us to El Palo. It’s located roughly between the lifeguard stand and the bunkers at the end of the urbanisation. It’s got a chocolate box of wave styles with nice secondary swell for the improvers. Out back on bigger days, you can expect overheads to wall up nicely. There’s little barrelling, more closeout, so good wave selection is essential. When the planets align, El Palo has a few great peaks at its northernmost point. They can mimic Portugal’s best beachies, with long periods and nice glassy A-frames.

El Papelillo

Intermediate

The northernmost sector of Playa de Famara comes with Papelillo. This is the part of the sand that stretches beyond the urbanisation. At its extreme end, you’ll be in kitesurfing territory. But there are some good peaks there if you can dodge the wind fliers. They’re prone to wind exposure and can get quite heavy on the push and with sudden swell changes. Also watch out for rips.

Muelle de Famara

Experts

When the N-NW swells start pumping in earnest, the Muelle de Famara attracts some of the best local surfers. It’s not for the faint-hearted. A bottom of jagged rock waits beneath the surface and it’s pretty shallow to boot. Still, the reward is some steaming fast right-to-lefters that can barrel quickly. Find it rolling into the harbour area close to the enclosed beachfront in Famara town.

San Juan

Intermediates / experts

Drive west out of Famara town on the Av. del Marinero and you’ll come to a dusty carpark that’s hemmed in by a few low dunes. Park up and walk to San Juan Beach along the short track from there. You’ll be faced with what’s considered one of the finest left-hand breaks on the island. It’s basically a fat wedge that walls up fast and offers decent rippable walls for about 20-40 metres.

A word of warning: Don’t be put off if you arrive and it looks rubbish. The first time we came here it just wasn’t working. Simple as. There’s nothing to do but wait for a nice S-SE offshore and a low tide combo. Watch out for the rock-sand bottom and rips.

The best hotels to stay in when surfing in Caleta de Famara

Red Star Surf & Yoga Camp Lanzarote ($)

If you really want to focus on the Caleta de Famara surf and have a good ole’ time while you’re at it, the Red Star Surf & Yoga Camp could be a doozy. It’s got shared dorms and bathrooms, along with private doubles. You can organise in-house surf tuition and rentals. Oh, and the location is brill – right next to the main bars and the beach.

Booking.com

Casa Alisios ($$)

Casa Alisios is a simply lovely beach cottage and surf pad. It takes you right into the heart of the town, so you can walk to the surf breaks and the local cafes/bars. The interiors are Greek-inspired with blue-and-white colour schemes. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen, lounge with flat-screen TV and balconies with street views. A top midrange option.

Booking.com

Villa Daniela ($$$)

Wowza! Yep, this villa is simply gorgeous. It’s sat in the middle of the urbanisation part of Famara, which puts you just a stone’s throw from the best breaks. What’s more, it’s got enough room for groups of up to 20, spread over the main house and a series of smaller apartments. It’s pretty hard to fault what you get. Inclusions range from an inviting garden pool to a private sauna to a steam room to a hot tub!

Booking.com

Caleta hotels

A guide to the Caleta de Famara surf season

Caleta de Famara is actually famed for its consistency. Sometimes it can be blown out. Sometimes it’s flat. But that’s rare. What’s more, it usually has little to do with the seasons. Basically, you’ll typically find plenty to surf on the wave factory that is Famara Beach.

Winter (November-March)

The winter months bring some of the heavier winds to bear across Lanzarote. They combine with strong ocean swells to give waves that can hit up to four metres. The famous break at La Santa (nicknamed the Hawaii of Europe) just to the south of Caleta de Famara is usually pumping throughout these months. Up in Famara itself, however, the sandbanks and the shallow tide difference can temper things, meaning there’s usually some nice whitewash for the beginners.

summer wetsuit

Summer (May-September)

Lighter winds, more mellow groundswells – that’s the name of the game during the Lanzarote summer. If you’re looking to practice your popup and get a good tan, this is the better time of year to come. Caleta de Famara beach is warm and gets some lovely, glassy waves. It’s not common for the bigger expert breaks to be working, but it’s top if you’re looking for a surf camp or surf school.

summer wetsuit
Caleta de Famara beach

Surf shops in Caleta de Famara

There are a handful of surf shops hidden between the sandy streets of Caleta de Famara. In fact, they make the town the main focal point for surf culture on the island of Lanzarote. Check them out…

ZooPark Famara

ZooPark Famara is always bustling with surf schools and shoppers. It’s one of the premier surf shops in the town, covering all aspects of the sport – from SUP to kitesurfing to paddleboarding. The folk here offer some of the top-rated Caleta de Famara surf lesson packages.

Surf Attack (Las Bajas)

While food is being served next door, the Las Bajas Surf Attack shop offers rentals and threads. It’s blessed with a big rack of everything from shorties to logs. There are in-house T-shirt designs, along with wetsuits, wax, booties – you name it.

Where to eat in Caleta de Famara

There are loads of options for dining in lively Caleta de Famara. You can choose refined Canarian cooking, or go for some relaxed snacks on the roadside…

Las Bajas

We love this little casual café. It’s right on the main street of Caleta de Famara, spilling onto the cobbled pavements with tables and chairs that get cooked in the sun (in a good way, of course). The coffee is strong; the juices are refreshing. Food menus are about salads and burgers and other great post-surf snacks.

Restaurante Dunas de Famara

If you happen to be staying in the urbanisation area of Caleta (a good choice if you’re after a holiday filled with Caleta de Famara surf), all-new Restaurante Dunas de Famara. On our first visit in 2019, it was only just opening. Now, it’s got menus of creative seafood dishes and refined Canarian tapas. It’s also got a cracking terrace for sitting with one of those local volcanic wines after a day in the water!

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Caleta de Famara

Don’t just twiddle your thumbs if the Caleta de Famara dies down for a few days. If it does, that probably means there’s not much wind. Which makes this spot perfect for…

Trail running up Peñas del Chache

Caleta de Famara is a trail runner’s mecca. You can leave the little town going north (even easier from the urbanisation) and be treading on dusty trails through hardy cacti, blooming freesias and wild herbs in no time. The most challenging route takes you all the way to the summit of Peñas del Chache – the highest point on the island. It’s got sweeping panoramas of the waves below and Famara itself.

Trail running up Peñas del Chache

Trekking to Playa del Risco

It’s around a 40-minute drive from the Caleta de Famara surf to the little mountain village of Yé. That’s right on the tip of northern Lanzarote, boasting access to the end of the Risco cliffs. There’s a truly dramatic walking route to be found there, zig-zagging its way from almost 500 metres up to the coastline below. The reward is the beautiful beach of Playa del Risco, where the water is turquoise, and the sand is talcum white. Hardly any crowds either.

Trail running up Peñas del Chache


This Ultimate Guide to Caleta de Famara Surf is always being updated and changed. If you think we’ve missed something or gotten something wrong, we’d sure love you to get in touch. Just email or drop a message in the comments below.

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