On a wild and Mars-like island, you’ll find waves of all sorts. Welcome to the world of Lanzarote surf, where reefs match Hawaii and beaches are perfect for begginers!
Lanzarote surf at a glance
- Always sunny and warm.
- Pretty consistent.
- Some hardcore breaks – it’s not the Hawaii of Europe for nothing!
- Some localism, especially in the more advanced Lanzarote surf spots.
- Still not warm enough to surf without a wetsuit.
- Those touristy resorts on the south coast.
This is a part of our greater guide to surfing in Canary Islands.
What you’ll find in this guide
An introduction to Lanzarote surf
Lanzarote might look like a desolate desert, but it’s got rich picking when it comes to waves. Yep, they call this one the Hawaii of Europe. Rugged walls of volcanic rock descend straight into a lashing ocean. Along the coast, some seriously awesome swells entertain everyone from the complete novice to the barrel-hunting pro.
The mainstay of the scene is in Caleta de Famara. Once a quaint fishing town, it’s rise has been astronomical in recent years. That’s mainly down to its 3-mile long length of sand, which braces the Atlantic and gets regular swells and whitewash. If you’re after any surf school Lanzarote trips then that’s the likely playground.
Of course, there’s much more than that. You’ve also got the brutal tubes of La Santa and all the lesser-known point breaks of the east coast, not to mention the rocky bays up north. With such variety, it’s easy to see how something is pretty much always working in these parts. Whether it’s the dominant W swells or the strong Sirocco winds that make the waves, finding something to ride is rarely a challenge.
Off the waves, Lanzarote is a stunning place to be. After you’ve put away the board, evenings of volcanic-grown wine and spicy mojo potatoes can take over. Elsewhere, there are hiking adventures to cloud-haloed mountains and trips to lava fields.
A guide to the Lanzarote surf season
It’s super-important to know the different surf seasons in Lanza before you dive in and book your trip. That’s because the changing swell directions and wind strengths can make summer a whole different kettle of fish to the winter. To put it another way, you won’t want to paddle out to La Santa in December expecting a mellow longboard wave!
For intermediates and improvers, the springtime might just be the best Lanzarote surf season of all. There’s a nice mix of winter swell power subsiding into the lighter summer waves. What’s more, the increasing heat hasn’t brought the Sirocco winds just yet, so it’s just the trade winds that are there to create a mess. As for reliability, we recently spent a whole month surfing in Caleta de Famara in April and there was just one day when the conditions weren’t suitable.
The hottest months of the year in the Canary Islands see the waves dip to their lowest. Don’t believe the Lanzarote surf forecasts entirely, though. Many an excellent surf trip to Caleta de Famara has happened when there’s apparently nothing happening in the ocean. Generally speaking, everything is tamer from around June onwards. It’s the perfect Lanzarote surf season for anyone trying out the sport for the first time, but just be sure to bring the SPF stick and the sunscreen!
The late summer and the autumn see the crowds dip in Lanzarote. There’s also an uptick in the groundswells that roll into the popular spots on the north-west coast. Around 50% of the days in September are rideable in Caleta de Famara at this time of the year, so there’s plenty of water time up for grabs. That only grows the closer to winter you get, aside from when the Sirocco winds chop up anything that starts to rise when they’re at their strongest at the start of November.
Wowza – this is when the energy of the Atlantic really kicks in. Prevailing swells switch N-NW and bring punch to the reefs of the coast around Caleta de Famara. But it’s La Santa that draws the crowds at this time of year. It gets rolling with triple overheads or higher, drawing veterans of the North Shore to try out something in Europe. Of course, the extra ferocity means that pretty much everywhere has consistent surf in the wintertime. It’s a little less clean than on days when it gets working in the summer, but the waves are strong, powerful and challenging. You’ll need a 3/2 and booties if you’re hitting the reefs.
Where is Lanzarote?
Just 77 miles from the coast of Morocco, Lanzarote is the farthest east of all the Canaries. It’s nearly 700 miles from Spain but only a whisker off its near neighbor of Fuerteventura. The island’s location in mid Atlantic means it draws in trade winds from the ocean and the warm summer Sirocco from the Sahara Desert, both of which affect the surf.
Surf Lanzarote: a spot guide
Lanzarote might just be the most surfable of the Canary Islands. It’s got beaches, reefs, point breaks, and whitewash up its sleeve. But all that’s spread right across the island, so you’ll need to know where to go to find the waves you want the most.
Caleta de Famara
Caleta de Famara is the town that sits at the end of long Playa de Famara. It’s the longest beach on the island, coming in at nearly three whole miles. It also gets swell from both the north and the west, so it’s perhaps the most reliable spot going in Lanzarote. That shows. There are surf schools everywhere, and not a morning goes by that you don’t see a crowd with their foamies and rash vests playing in the whitewash.
But don’t go thinking that Caleta de Famara is only for beginners. It’s definitely not. There can be some very punchy swells here, particularly if you make for the middle of the beach where things are stronger. The wave is a peaky beach break that suffers a lot from cross shore wind. But when the trades die down, you can get long rides that go both and left. Works on both low and high tide, but watch out for seaweed when the water’s in.
La Santa is the break that’s really put Lanzarote surf on the map. With enough pizzazz to match even the tubes of Hawaii, it’s drawn pros from all four corners, shortboards in hand. Put simply, this is not a break for beginners or even intermediates. When it works, it’s unforgiving. It rolls straight over a shallow volcanic reef, creating one of the best barrels in the hemisphere. Offshore winds help matters, but you’ll need to prep for one of the fastest rides of your life if you’re brave enough to paddle out.
Like Caleta, Playa de Orzola is a beginner-friendly beach break. It sits on the northern end of the island, but is a tad more exposed than its compadre. That means the surf schools tend to desert the place when the waves and the wind get high, especially as the rides aren’t as long and the swells not as consistent. For an extra challenge, move to La Canteria. It’s just around the headland, forming into a nice, fast left when the tide comes up.
Jameos del Agua
Jameos del Agua might be better known for its caves and cacti plantations than its surf, but the waves here are probably the best on the east coast. Pretty exposed and breaking over a relatively deep reef, the wave is a point break in essence. When the stars align it’s a lovely left-hander that can actually be a long ride of over 100 metres or more. Be wary of localism.
Where to stay for surfing in Lanzarote
Lanzarote was a holiday island long before it was a surf mecca. That means there should be all sorts of accommodation on the menu. From family villas with glinting pools to salt-washed fishing cottages right by the beach. Some of the best recommendations if you want to be near to the waves are:
Seaview Famara Beach
A romantic little pad with enough space for up to five people, this cottage on the edge of Famara town is perfectly suited for a Lanzarote surf holiday by the main beginner beach. You’ll get a balcony from where you can check the swell, a comfy living area, and walking access to the local surf schools and rental points.
Treat the whole family to a pad in the stylish urbanization area of Caleta. That’s Villa Daniela, which comes complete with a swimming pool, a hot tub (perfect for watching the stars at night) and even a sauna (think about those post-surf warm-up sessions!). In the main house, there’s enough to sleep up to 10 people, but you can also rent out the smaller apartments if you’re groups even bigger. The best part? The waves of Caleta de Famara beach are less than 10 minutes’ walk from the front door!
Brisa Del Mar
Stylish apartments in the legendary surf town of La Santa. They’ve got comfy doubles and breezy interiors, along with walking distance to the charming Canarian cafes and bars on the main street. Just remember that this one’s a break for the pros only. Still, a short drive north will bring you to Caleta for surf lessons and easier waves.
Where to eat in Lanzarote
Lanzarote is all about the Canarian food and wine, with a touch of Spanish tapas and a few good pizza joints thrown in for good measure.
Beach Food Las Bajas
Chilled and easy-going Las Bajas is a cyclist’s and surfer’s mainstay in Caleta de Famara town. There’s a mix of sliders and salads on the menu, along with cold beer and local wines. A few choices for veggies add to the mix. On sunny mornings, grab a coffee and sit outside to watch the surf schools prepping for a day on the water.
A mix of Mediterranean meat and salad joins with some eastern and African dishes in this lovely eatery in La Santa. The vibe is pretty gourmet, so be sure to dress up nice (no wetsuits allowed). Service is sleek and efficient. The setting is cosy with a dash of the romantic.
Things to do when you’re not surfing in Lanzarote
You don’t have to twiddle thumbs when waiting for waves in Lanzarote. There’s plenty to do, from trekking up volcano cones to driving under hulking mountains made of fire. Here’s just a taster…
Risco de Famara
Pull on the walking boots and hike the cliffs of Risco de Famara. The trailhead is in the town of Caleta de Famara, so most surfers should find it easily. The trek is an awesome one. It zig-zags through a deserted valley, past wild cacti and shrubs, then over a rocky ridge onto a plateau where you’ll see the highest point on the island and the observatory. The reward? Sweeping panoramas of the surf beach and the volcanos inland!
Timanfaya National Park
No trip to Lanzarote could be complete without a day at the amazing Timanfaya National Park. A desolate land that looks plucked from the surface of Mars, it was formed by the eruptions of volcanos centuries ago. These days, you can head there for scenic drives around the craters and even taste Canarian meats grilled above open magma chambers.
Playa del Risco
Simply stunning Playa del Risco is only accessible after a long hike down a hair-pinning trail. That means it’s often deserted. But if you’re up for it, the result is a spot to call your own on glistening white sand that’s lapped by acquamarine water, all facing the beautiful island of La Graciosa.
How to get to Lanzarote
Lanzarote is an island, which means the best way to get in is by air. Thankfully, it’s also a super-popular place for holidaymakers. That means there’s almost always a good deal on low-cost flights into the airport in Arrecife. Be sure to check out connections from the UK with Ryanair and Easyjet – they are usually the cheapest.
How to get around Lanzarote
There’s really limited cross-island transportation links, so we always recommend getting a car. Thankfully, in Spain and the Canaries they are super cheap. A recent month-long rental out of Lanzarote airport, complete with a surfboard rack and bigged-up boot space cost us in the region of just €350 euros! Yep, a month!
This Ultimate Guide to Lanzarote 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. You can use email or just drop a message in the comments below.