The Levanto surf runs from a protected jetty break to a sand-bottomed beginner break and is surely some of the best in northern Italy for all-level groups.
An introduction to Levanto surf
The people of Levanto were apparently left stunned by the first wave of riders who came and tried their hand on the sloppy cross-Med swells that break in their town back in the 1980s. However, they were certainly onto something because the main beach in this bustling seaside town on the cusp of the legendary Cinque Terra has some of the most reliable breaks in the country.
They work because of the almost consistent meeting of three different wind systems – the very same that make nearby Genoa a sailing mecca from December to December. The best of the bunch is the end-of-winter mistral, which sweeps down from France to offer regular wind swells that bring the waves up to overhead height and even get tubular.
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This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Italy
Levanto surf at a glance
- Regular wind swell
- Right by the legendary Cinque Terra
- Good for beginners
- Not the best quality – it’s no Portugal
- Not reliable – often flat
- Rarely gets to overhead height
What’s in this guide to Levanto surf?
- An introduction to Levanto surf
- Where is Levanto
- The top Levanto surf spots
- Surf hotels and surf camps in Levanto
- When to surf in Levanto
Where is Levanto?
Levanto is a seaside resort in the Italian province of La Spezia. It’s quite the tourist hotspot, thanks to the presence of the handsome Cinque Terra (a series of five villages that dot the nearby coast) and the proximity of the Monterosso reserve (a gorgeous area of high cliffs and coves that’s said to be a fine alternative to the expensive Amalfi Coast). The nearest airport is the Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA), which has good but often seasonal links to Rome, Munich, and now even London thanks to Ryanair.
A guide to the Levanto surf spots
Varazze isn’t in Levanto at all. In fact, it’s about 1.5 hours’ drive away around Genoa bay and the coast of Liguria. However, it’s always worth a mention on guides to north-west Italian surf because it’s hailed as one of the finest breaks in the country. You’re looking at a beasty A-frame that can handle 8-10 foot swells on the windiest days, with a fast left and a challenging right into the jetty. It’s even been compared to the cream of southern California, Trestles!
Read our complete guide to Varazze surf
When the strong SW winds are billowing over the north end of Corsica in the summer and fall months, the La Gritta bathing area at the top end of Levanto bay can start going off. It’s not the easiest spot to surf on account of the cluster of dangerous, half-submerged boulders interrupting the line. However, it’s the only part of the bay that can handle the highest summertime swells, which themselves are rare. When it works it’s a short but snappy ride over shallow rocks.
Probably the best of all the breaks in the main bay of Levanto when the winter mistral winds are coming in hard from the NW-W direction, the Nadia break can offer rare Italian barrel sections. It’s usually more of a hollow wall though, with both directions rippable off a steep and sucky peak. This is where the best local crews will ply their trade if it’s working.
Casino is the every person wave of the Levanto surf scene. It relies on a shifting sandbank that’s right in front of the – you guessed it! – main casino on the promenade. Some years it doesn’t form up so well, but in others, it can give one of mainland Italy’s longest left-handers. Goofies will eat their hearts out towards the end of the winter when the W winds are really kicking because that brings the best reliability to the location.
Pietra is the place to go when there are really heavy low-pressure systems kicking up through the bay. That can happen when the Leveche blows hard in the summer months or with medicanes in the winter. The spot here is the best sheltered of all in the main beach area and it can handle some big size. It’s got some quality when it gets rolling too, with both left and right peaks, though the former is unquestionably the better ride. Mainly a good intermediate’s spot and up. Not really for beginners, largely because of the conditions required to get it pumping.
Where to stay when surfing in Levanto?
Levanto surf spots string out along a single bay right in front of the town of Levanto itself. It’s a lovely place to stay for a couple of days even if you’re not surfing, with the famous villages and mountains of the Monterosso al Mare reserve just to the south and plenty of beaches to get stuck into. We’ve gone for places that put you within good reach of the waves here…
Affittacamere Sapore di Mare
Affittacamere Sapore di Mare sits less than 800 yards off the main beach in Levanto. It’s a family run B&B with bags of charm. We love the modern rooms that are both clean and airy, along with the hearty Italiano breakfast of sweet pastries and coffee each morning. It’s our top pick if you’re surfing this town.
The little apartment of Sweet Helen sits perched on the wooded hillside above the main Levanto beach. It’s a relaxed if not luxurious pad that promises plenty of seclusion away from the hustle of the promenade.
Close to the beach and even closer to the historic middle of the town, Amar has lots going for it. The highly rated pad means cozy doubles with their own kettle and fridge, along with fantastically comfy beds for resting in after touring the coast or hitting the waves.
Step-by-step guide to planning your Levanto surf trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the Levanto surf…We use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner for this. The reason? We’ve always found it the best site for comparing deals from basically ALL airlines and somehow seems to offer deals that beat going direct.
Step two: Book your surf lodge. There’s Booking.com. That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check how close EXACTLY that hotel is to particular breaks. Or Book Surf Camps, which is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages.
Step three: Book surf lessons and other activities For advance booking, you can use GetYourGuide or Viator. To be fair, though, we usually just leave this until we’re there – it’s easy to book in person in most surf destinations.
When to surf in Levanto?
Strong mistral winds towards the end of the winter blow west over the top end of Corsica and Sardinia to bring the best swells of the year into the bay at Levanto. It starts around December and carries on until May, but there are bound to be lots of off days in between – this is Italy, not Portugal! It’s also possible to get storm swells in the southern Med working here, especially thanks to the protected breaks at the south end of the main beach, which have the harbor wall to help cut out the slosh.
This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Italy