The Ultimate Guide to Tenerife Surf

by Rich Francis

The Tenerife surf is just like the island it sits on: Pretty darn awesome. Reefs, point breaks, and reliable Atlantic swells combine to make it so.

Tenerife surf

Tenerife surf at a glance

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

The good

  • Two fantastic surf regions in the south and the north
  • Loads of hotels and places to stay
  • A great place for expert surfers in December and January

The bad

  • Lots of localism
  • Unforgiving reef in many spots
  • Wind

This is just a part of our ultimate guide to surfing in Canary Islands.

What’s in this guide to surfing in Tenerife?

An introduction to Tenerife surf

There’s fantastic variety in the Tenerife surf. That’s probably just what you’d expect of the biggest Canary Island of the lot. A north shore that’s exposed perfectly to the cross-Atlantic currents in the winter combines with a west coast that’s threaded by shallow volcanic reefs. It’s the perfect cocktail for a fantastic surf destination and you really do have a chocolate box of breaks at your fingertips, at least if you’re willing to drive.

Big, pumping reef and boulder-bottom beaches dominate at the top of the island. It’s the area to go if you’re trying to escape the crowds and probably our favourite part of the island. There are so many kinks and crevices in the coast there that you can pretty much guarantee something will be working all the time. Closer to the mainstay resorts of Playa de las Americas, the waves hit reefs and barrel but localism is an issue. We’d say flip over to El Medano to find chilled surf hostels and some of the isle’s top beginner spots.

Where is Tenerife?

Tenerife is smack bang in the middle of the Canary Island archipelago. Officially it’s a part of Spain, but you’ll need to look for it out in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Africa.

A guide to the Tenerife surf spots

Roughly speaking, Tenerife has two separate surf areas: North and South. They are both very different. One’s real busy thanks to proximity to the main resorts. The other is quieter and offers some gnarlier swells in the winter window. Let’s take a look…

North Tenerife

Tenerife north shore surf

The north around Bajamar extends eastwards to to Benijo. It’s all mainly rugged coves and beaches sheltered by high cliffs. They get the brunt of the NW winter swell system and have good protection from easterlies coming off Africa. The result? They’re for the more serious surfers on the island. Points, double overheads, fast barrels – this is where you’ll find them on Tenerife. Oh, and did we mention that the surf breaks in the north are way less busy than their compadres down south?

Almáciga

Almáciga is a real favourite among surf travelers on Tenerife. It’s remote, though, out on the north coast. Still, the NW winter swells are right onshore here, with southerly westerlies capping off the bill. The wave itself is an exposed beach and reef mix, which is best at 1-2m. Expect rippable lefts and rights. Watch out for submerged rocks.

Playa del Socorro

Playa del Socorro is a local’s favourite that shows the sheer power of the Tenerife north shore. Can offer big triple overheads in the midwinter NW swell window. Is well protected by flanking headlands, so those switching wind directions are a little nullified. It’s not easy stuff though – the wave is a heavy, fast drop-in with some muscle-burning rips to contend with. Some localism.

El Arenal

Another north-coast Tenerife surf spots that’s among the more accessible in the Bajamar region, El Arenal offers reliable conditions for surfing pretty much the whole year. Look out for that narrow NW swell to catch it at its finest. The waves are nice, easy-going rollers that can break left and right then. At 2-5 foot its an intermediate’s dream.

La Caleta

Not to be confused with its namesake surf town over on Lanzarote, La Caleta is a sectiony reef break that’s really intermediates and up. The right is the main peak, but you’ll also catch lefts on some of the points closer to the village. Can hold up to 12 foot but prime is 5-8 for sure. Easterlies are fine but south-easterlies are offshore winds.

El Charco

A heavy, slabby break that’s a mega close out whenever the swell is just a little off. However, when it’s NW and wintertime, it can wall up into one of the few Tenerife surf spots that hold at XXL. Smaller days can work, but you’re looking at small wedges that break individually between the rocks. It’s good for seasoned intermediates on some days, but reserved for experts when large.

El Callado

Because we’re a little lazy and have an appetite for consistent intermediate waves every day of our lives, we might just go as far as to say that El Callado is one of our favourites. It’s well protected from easterly winds and direct NW swells because of its orientation. There are sand and boulders underfoot, and the water keeps good shape as it comes through into the bay. The best place to be is the point at the south end of the beach, which creates regimented and rippable rights when perfect. Don’t ride it too far – it gets shallow.

South Tenerife

Tenerife south coast surf

Don’t be tempted to think that south Tenerife is reserved for beginners just because it’s where the holidaymakers go. Not so. Spanish pros often hit the waves here. A lot of the breaks are over shallow lava reef right by Playa de Las Americas. Yes, there are a few places where you can learn, but the localism is also notorious. Sorry – but it’s true!

El Conquistador

One of the best known breaks in the south of Tenerife, El Conquistador gets its name from the big hotel that’s just above the bay. Technically a reef break, but the rock is so broken that you’ll find it pretty easy underfoot so long as you’re careful. On top of that, the waves are peaking at about 4-7 foot, with a S swell (commonplace in summer) enough to get it kicking. The result? It’s a beginner and intermediate hotspot.

La Izquierda

Right by the palm-dotted promenades of Playa de Las Americas, La Izquierda is a classic Canarian reef break that sucks up all the NE wraparounds and NW winter swells and chucks out some heavy waves. It’s basically a tubey left but can get sectiony when there’s wind on it or it’s a little low. Rides are long and fast. Localism is the worst on the island. We wouldn’t recommend paddling out unless you know someone.

Derecha del Cartel

The mirror image of La Izquirda is the Derecha del Cartel break. It’s just a stone’s throw to the south and has quick left barrels that pump up at the faintest sign of a NW swell. It’s very hollow and steep, so get your eyes set on the pit here. Just watch out for localism and foamers.

La Tejita

You’ll have to come around the southern tip of Tenerife from the reefs of Playa de las Americas to find La Tejita. It fronts the point just by the resort town of El Medano. The spot is known as perhaps the best beginner place in all of Tenerife. Protected from strong west swells, the waves are typically chest high. There’s lots of whitewash to practice on and there’s some punch in the push to get you popping up nicely. To sum up: It’s a true fav with the local Tenerife surf school groups.

Where to stay when surfing in Tenerife

Tenerife has oodles and oodles of hotels. I mean, of course it does – this is Tenerife, after all! We’ve focussed on a few places where surfers will have breaks on the doorstep and,, we think, a stay to remember…

Casa Grande Surf Hostel ($)

Beginner surfers on a tight budget will love the Casa Grande Surf Hostel. It’s just a stone’s throw from the easy break at La Tejita. There are on-site equipment rentals. You get relaxed, dorm-style accommodation, not to mention some lovely common spaces for mingling with other start-out surfers.

Surfer’s Beach Apartment ($$)

Also just back from the beginner-fav waves of La Tejita, Surfer’s Beach Apartment offers a little more in the way of privacy. It has a total of three bedrooms and capacity for up to six guests, along with a private terrace garden and its own fitted kitchen. Something for traveling surf groups!

Twin Fin Surf Camp ($$)

Twin Fin Surf Camp is a great spot for all levels of surfer on their way to the Tenerife breaks. It’s midway between the southern and northern surf sectors, so you’ll have breaks that work on both S and NW swells at your finger tips. It’s also super cool. Swinging hammocks, a chilled garden, on-site yoga instruction – it’s all here!

When to surf in Tenerife

waves by a monastery in Tenerife

The seasons in Tenerife can change the swells and conditions of the island’s surf breaks considerably. Generally speaking, winter is more consistent and better for the famous reef spots. Summer is good for beginners and still has something most days.

Winter (November-March)

The main swell period in the winter is from the NW, straight across the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean. That works wonders for both of the island’s surf areas. The north gets umping because the points and bays there shape the oncoming currents into neat walls and even big breaks. The south works because most of its reefs, like La Izquierda, face westwards anyway. The one downside is that winter isn’t great for beginners. The La Tejita side of the isle doesn’t get that much action, but Tenerife surf school staff should still know where to take you if you’re determined to get wet!

  • Wear: 2mm or 3/2. Boots for the reef breaks

Summer (April-October)

The summers are long and warm in Tenerife. That’s perfect for the tan seekers, but what about the surfers? Swells are a lot more unpredictable in summer. Southerlies, westerlies and northerlies can cross the island in any given week. Winds are also changing, and strong systems going eastwards off Africa can blow out the few spots that exist on that side of the island. That said, there’s still usually something to surf most days here – consistency is key. We’d just ask at a local Tenerife surf school what spots are best for the prevailing conditions.

  • Wear: Shorty, 2mm or rash vest and boardshorts. Up to you.

Tenerife surf shops

Tenerife has plenty of surf shops. You can find them on the shopping strips of the southern resorts. And you can find them in the port town on the north side of the island.

Tenerife surf school

Surf Shop Underground Tablas De Surf De Segunda Mano

It’s a mouthful, but it’s a great surf shop. Located in the popular resort of Playa de la Américas, this one could just be the only place you need for surf gear on the island. It does the basics fantastically: The stock of wetsuits and boards is second to none!

Aloha Surf Shop

Aloha Surf Shop is a great option if you’re hopping the coves and point breaks of the north coast. It’s situated in Puerto de la Cruz, so not far from the best spots in the area. Inside is loads of surf fashion, with official Rip Curl stuff, new-range swimwear, bags, SUP gear, and flip flops.

Fitenia

Fitenia is a classic surf shop in the island’s capital. It’s a mainstay of the surf scene on Tenerife, having opened way back in 1983. Stocks loads from global surf brands and still has one of the best selections of boards in the Canaries. Super friendly folk, too.

Best places to eat in Tenerife

Tenerife’s eclectic crowd of returnee travelers ensure there’s something to suit all tastes on the island. Some of the places that are regularly recommended as must eats include…

El Refugio de Vilaflor ($$)

A journey into the mountains beneath Mount Teide can take you to this rustic Canarian tavern. Expect rural, rustic food cooked in the age-old traditions of the island. That’s basically huge slabs of meat, BBQ veg, and spicy rojo sauces.

Kismat Tandoori ($$)

Treat yourself to a mega platter of Indian food after hitting the reefs of Playa de las Americas. Kismat Tandoori covers the lot, from spicy samosas to your Anglo-style tikka masala.

Cafe Flashpoint ($)

Simplicity is key at Cafe Flashpoint. A casual menu of calamari, fries and burgers fuels the surfers who are on the La Tejita waves all day long. Cold beer is available for a little apres surf overlooking the ocean. Nice.

Things to do when you’re not on the Tenerife surf

Tenerife didn’t become one of Europe’s favourite winter escapes just because of its waves. There’s loads more to get stuck into on this wild and rugged island…

Mount Teide

Pico del Teide

How does a hike to the very peak of the highest mountain in Spain sound? Granted, it’s not your most relaxing day off the swells, but it’s awesome. You’ll need to pre-apply for a permit to do it. Then, hit Telesforo Bravo Trail 10. It’s a journey to a summit above the clouds, with sweeping views of the Canaries and the Atlantic Ocean.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

A lot of surfers will actually base themselves in the happening island capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It’s a buzzy place with colourful old homes and rollicking neighbourhoods of Spanish tapas bars and nightclubs. Come to party and shop.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This is just a part of our greater guide to surfing in Canary Islands

If you think we’ve missed anything from this guide to the Tenerife surf, we’d love to hear about it. Alternatively, check out our other guides to surfing in Spain and Europe.

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