Varazze surf takes you to the lovely Ligurian Riviera, where one seriously fantastic break has even been compared to Lower Trestles.
An introduction to Varazze surf
We’re not really sure when the lucky few surfers who started riding Varraze first stumbled upon the spot. We’d love to have been there, though. “Are we in South Cali?” One might well have said. “Is that Lowers?” Another may have dreamily beamed. No, and no are the answers. But this is certainly a spot that’s up there with the cream of the crop in the home of pasta and pizza.
When the wind swells align in winter and there’s good NW-W action in the compass, the folks here enjoy a lippy A-frame that curls over to give fast lefts that zip into the rocks and longer rights with a mellow section and a fast take off that can even give some hollow parts if you’re lucking out. Okay, it’s not Lower Trestles, but even just a fraction of mimicry is worthy of remark, no? You’re in the Med, remember!
Recently, magazines and surf sites (*ahem*) have been featuring the Varazze surf like it’s no one’s business. That’s upped the crowds and peed off a few locals in the water. But there’s actually good consistency here and it’s hard not to be excited to share the joys of surfing under the foothills of the Italian Alps, don’t you agree?
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This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Italy
Varazze surf at a glance
- Crème de la crème of Italian surf spots
- Works well in the winter
- Fast lefts and longer rights
- Not the best – it’s no California!
- Mostly flat in the summer
- Can get busy
What’s in this guide to Varazze surf?
- An introduction to Varazze surf
- Where is Varazze
- The top Varazze surf spots
- Surf hotels and surf camps in Varazze
- When to surf in Varazze
Where is Varazze?
Varazze has the enviable position of one of those Italian towns that lie just over the border from the French Riviera. So, it feels like a continuation of the Cote d’Azur, only without the crowds and the millionaire yachts (okay, without SO MANY crowds and millionaire yachts). A part of the Province of Savona around midway along the coast of Liguria, it’s a couple of hours’ drive from Milan, even less from Genoa, and also within reach of Turin.
A guide to the Varazze surf spots
There’s really only one surf spot of note in Varazze and it’s the one that brings the crowds…
Molo Marinai d’Italia (the main break at Varazze)
The Varazze main spot is the only thing really worth talking about in this town. It’s the reason that this small harbor point on the Ligurian coast has been thrust into the limelight and the first port of call for any board-touting travellers on the Italian trail. So, here goes…
Forming just in front of the jetty of Molo Marinai d’Italia that pokes out into the eastern side of the main bay in front of the town, the wave here is an A-frame that rises on the rock-sand seabed into a high lip. From there, you can go left into a fast wall of water that takes you quite quickly into the pebbly beach before lipping out. Or, you can hit the rights. They tend to hold better and vary in character depending on the swell size and wind direction. On the best days, it will be a head-high surface that invites strong cutbacks and daring bottom turns. On medicore days, you can really pump the front of the board and whistle through sections to try and bag some air.
We know, we know. It hardly sounds like an Italian break at all. That’s because it really doesn’t behave like it. When it’s working – and consistency is the major downfall of the Varazze surf – it’s a break that’s more like a southern Cali point or a French jetty break from the Basque country. Nice.
There’s a crumbly right-hand point break up the coast from Varazze. The locals tend to stray here when the crowds get too much on the star of the show. It’s actually decent but often squishy when the wind gets up.
The bay in Levanto is home to a couple of pretty great surf schools. They survive on a series of breaks that spread the whole of the beachfront in the town, going from Pietra in the south (the most protected of the bunch) to Casino (a sand-bottomed beach break that’s perfect for learners).
Where to stay when surfing in Varazze?
Varazze’s hotels string out along the palm-dotted promenade by the main beach. That’s great news for surfers, who should find that most of the top stays are within easy striking distance of the wave.
Hotel Spot Varazze
A modern and quirky hotel with two very friendly in-house doggos, the Hotel Spot Varazze gets you closer to the main surf break than just about any other establishment in the town. The rooms are all recently redone and the rates are surprisingly attractive for winter and autumn stays when the swell should be better.
Hotel Astigiana & Appartamenti
Hotel Astigiana & Appartamenti is a loveable family owned stay in the quieter streets to the east of the main break. It’s still walkable to the surf point but you get some great bang for your buck. Decor is a bit more traditional and grand, channeling a little of that Cote d’Azur je ne sais quoi.
Hotel Villa Elena
Hotel Villa Elena is another grand and gorgeous riviera-style hotel that has excellent access to the main beach in Varazze. It’s got old-school rooms that ooze elegance and a beautiful exterior that’s overshadowed by high fir trees and palms. You’ll feel like Ingrid Bergman.
Step-by-step guide to planning your Varazze surf trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the Varazze 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 Varazze?
Good wind swells from the SW are needed to get the Varazze surf working to its best. Those usually make their way up into the Ligurian Sea during the wilder autumn and winter months. The best time of the year is usually late fall in November when there’s a decent string of swell days but the water’s not too cold. We also like the late winter around early March, when you can surf Varazze for a few days and then drive north to ski in the Aosta Valley. Where else can you do that?!
This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Italy