The Ultimate Guide to Cadiz Surf

by Nuno D'Angelo

Cadiz surf spans the whole Costa de la Luz, which means cracking breaks on SW swells and something for all levels.

Cadiz surf

The Cadiz 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

  • Beach breaks galore that are nice for beginners
  • Historic town center
  • Warm water

The bad

  • You will need to drive from Cadiz to get the best surf
  • Some localism
  • Pollution in water after storms

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing Spain

What’s in this guide to Cadiz surf?

An introduction to Cadiz surf

3,000-year-old Cadiz is a magical spot to take to the waves. Seriously, this town has some mega charm. Hidden alleyways, old tapas taverns, Moorish and Greek and Roman history – it’s all here. If you’re pining to explore Andalusia but also get a fix of surfing in Southern Spain, this is the option for you. We won’t hesitate to say that.

However, wave wise, it’s not up there with Spain’s northern wonders. The consistency simply can’t compete with, say, San Sebastian or Santander. However, Cadiz has some pluses. For one, the water in autumn can be warm enough to hit without the wetty. What’s more, you’ll catch those SW swell channels. When those get firing, they hit the costa with wedgy sandbars at El Palmar and lovely right and left hand barrels elsewhere. Watch out though, a lot of the best spots are at least 40 minutes south of Cadiz itself. That’s because the geography of southern Portugal whittles down the swell window for beaches north of the city. They just aren’t as reliable.

Where is Cadiz?

Cadiz is midway up the Costa de la Luz. That’s pretty much the only part of southern Spain that faces the Atlantic Ocean directly, arching north west from Tarifa to the Portuguese border. Officially a part of Andalusia, the town is 60 miles as the crow flies from Gibraltar and over 100 miles from Malaga.

A guide to the Cadiz surf spots

This guide looks at all of the top Cadiz surf spots, not just the ones in the city itself. We start just to the north in Las Redes and follow the best breaks of the Costa de la Luz until we get to the ones that are about 55 minutes’ drive from town. Here we go…

Las Redes

Las Redes is a good option on a southwest swell when there’s a north wind. It’s a half an hour’s drive to the north of Cadiz. There, it opens onto a scythe of nice sand in front of the town of El Puerto de Santa María. Some decent height is needed to bring sets up the channel. If they come, it’s usually average beach break that lacks power – essentially exactly what beginners are after!

Playa de Santa María del Mar

Close to the historic center and protected by two massive breakwaters, Playa de Santa María del Mar is the place to go when the onshores are whipping. It’s rarely big and never has the quality of other spots in the surrounding region. Still, it’s rippable when the waves form off the groynes. Localism is a major issue, but that’s pretty much true on much of the Cadiz surf that’s in the city itself.

Playa de la Victoria

Playa de la Victoria is a 3km beach that stretches along the western edge of the Cadiz headland. It’s the more exposed of the two main surf beaches in Cadiz itself. Surf consistency only really comes with the winter months, but even then it’s really a beginner wave. When there is a swell it might just be some of the best starter surfing in Southern Spain, but mainly because of the easy of access from the old town.

Playa de Camposoto

Playa de Camposoto is south of Cadiz. It’s one of the more exposed parts of the Costa de la Luz, so pulls in any decent winter and spring swells. Summer – like this whole region – can be flat. When it’s working, it’s a long beach with lots of peaks. They line up nicely and can give some hearty A-frame lefts and right on a fine day. There’s also a surf school here.

Conil

Conil is short for Conil de la Frontera. That’s a gorgeous Andalusian white village that fronts up to the Atlantic Ocean around 38 minutes’ drive to the south of Cadiz. Surfers usually see it as a gateway to El Palmar (more on that below), but the beach here also gets some decent, wedgy sandbar breaks when it’s working. Typically a goer in winter.

El Palmar

El Palmar surf could just be the finest surfing in Southern Spain. We say that because the beach has all the ingredients for a top wave magnet. It faces perfectly westwards with a slight southerly bend, so gets those dominant winter swells whenever they’re on. It’s also really long, so you shouldn’t have problems with localism. It’s a sandbar in essence, but the punchy waves get power from nice underwater trenches much in the same way as Nazare. When it’s on, this one can hold some monster overheads that will stay hollow until around 12-14 foot. It’s better when it’s lower than that, though. We think 6 foot is optimum with no wind. That’s when the wedgy A-frames come into play and they’re good for all abilities.

La Yerbabuena

La Yerbabuena is the standout right-hand point of the whole Costa de la Luz. Stronger southerly and even westerly swells can come into this part of the coast to the south of Cadiz. Thy help to make this fast, wally wave that’s got great potential for longer rides and moves off the lip. Very fickle – it works like 15 days a year. When it does it’s a shortboarder’s dream.

Los Caños de Meca

Goofies go hungry on most of the Cadiz surf. However, Los Caños de Meca is a rare left-hander with some serious class. It’s very inconsistent in summer, but has its days from September onwards. When it’s working, look out for a fast drop in to something typically hollow. Dangers in the local crowd (they’re nasties) and the urchins (equally as bad).

Barbate

Barbate is about an hour’s drive south of Cadiz. It’s worth the trek when it’s working, though, so long as you don’t mind incurring the ire of the locals. A zippy left that tubes to perfection on any swells south of the horizontal line, it can be glassy and hollow and very long. It’s the gift of the bars that roll of the harbor wall.

Where to stay when surfing in Cadiz

Cadiz itself is largely the province of boutique hotels and B&Bs. To get proper surf hostels and camps you’ll need to head south. That’s what we’ve done here, assuming you’re on a surf mission and would prefer to travel to see the city and not the other way around!

Nexo Surf House ($$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Nexo Surf House is bloody brilliant if you’re looking to get out on the waves of El Palmar – one of the best all-around level spots in Cadiz. It’s a mere 350 yards from the waves, has charming doubles with garden views, on-site board rentals and more! We simply love it.

Alzocaire Hostal Boutique ($$-$$$)

Best for: Luxury alongside the surf

Alzocaire Hostal Boutique is everything you could want from an Andalusian B&B. All whitewashed and with a twist of Spanish charm, it hits a zenith with that rooftop hot tub overlooking the beaches. Close to the surf and very romantic. Calling surf couples!

El Mirador de Castilnovo ($$)

Best for: Family or group surf trips to El Palmar

El Mirador de Castilnovo is a large villa in the urbanization south of Conil de la Frontera. It’s got an air of the hacienda about it, with white-painted walls and a large garden with pool. Really, you’re coming because it sleeps eight and is super close to the main beach of El Palmar. That makes it a top option for family surf trips or surf outings with your mates.

When to surf in Cadiz

The seasons are probably the main thing to focus on when it comes to surfing in Cadiz. Like Portugal’s Algarve before it, this region needs some thump from the Atlantic south-southwest channels to come alive. Essentially, you’re WAY more likely to catch that in the winter.

Surfer on a beach near Cadiz

Summer (June-August)

It’s all flat in Andalusia in the summer. This is the season for the sun bathers and the swimmers. Our advice? Don’t even bother planning a surf holiday at this time of the year. You’re better off tracking up north to the Pais Vasco or even France, where the waves are way more consistent.

Wear: Some people go just rash vest and bikini. We’d say pack the 2mm

Winter (December-March)

Winter enjoys the best of all the seasons when it comes to surfing in southern Spain. The Cadiz surf, even the spots in the north usually protected by the Algarve, can work day after day. El Palmar is the option for beginner lessons at this time but you could also be lucky and get something going on in the city itself. Barbate and the others an hour to the south are usually pumping with their fast lefts and right-hand points.

Wear: 4/3 is a solid choice, with boots for reef surfing. Hoods aren’t usually needed but on windy days are a treat

Fall (September-November)

September marks the start of the season for Cadiz surf. It doesn’t really get firing on any reliable sense until October, though. That’s because the swell channels to the south start going in earnest then, giving around 50% rideable days in the more consistent spots of Barbate and on the El Palmar surf. The best thing you can do is look for a stay on the south of the Costa de la Luz, where everything’s more exposed.

Wear: 3/2 is good but some people will still be out in swimwear

Spring (April-May)

Spring is short lived in Andalusia, but there are years when some decent S-SW swell hangs around until the end of May. Again, it’s more reliable the further south you go towards Tarifa, as Atlantic storms push northwards progressively.

Wear: Stick with the 4/3 unless your brave for a 3/2. Some people might be surfing in swimwear by May!

Surf shops in Cadiz

Cadiz and the greater surf coast that surrounds it has no shortage of surf shops. Here are two we love. The first is more for those surf tees and local designs. The second is a top Spanish shaper.

A-Frame Surfschool & Surfshop

A-frame isn’t only a highly rated surf school, it also has a lovely shop in Conil town. Handmade El Palmar surf goodies join with eco jewellery pieces and ocean-inspired art works. Nice owners. Great location.

Cruz Surfboards

If you’re looking to get something shaped for your time on the Costa de la Luz, we think these guys have got it down. They craft banging shortboards from their factory site in the suburb of Cadiz itself. Ask about tailor-made shapes and designs.

Surf gear for that Cadiz surf trip

Lots will be surfing in Cadiz in the summer months without a wetty. If you’re planning to go in autumn or winter to learn, pick one up before you go. This affordable Rip Curl is a great entry-level suit that should see you through any surf camp.

We use this zinc-based sunscreen by Suntribe EVERY SINGLE DAY when we’re surfing in a hot destination. It’s really water resistant, has just four ingredients, and won’t damage the environment.

Hero7 GoPros aren’t the best on the market these days, but that means better value for money. We take ours everywhere and love the way that 4k footage looks on the beach breaks of Andalusia!

Best places to eat in Cadiz

Cadiz has hundreds and hundreds of cafes. We’ve focussed on the spots that we love to return to and think will help you on your way to the waves…

LA VACA ATADA

Staying in the heart of old Cadiz means you can easily make a pitstop at this stylish bakery on your way to the beaches further south. They do great cakes, crusty sourdough breads and strong coffee.

TuNATuN

TuNATuN isn’t in Cadiz at all. It’s actually down south by the more reliable El Palmar surf. If you’re heading there be sure to pay a visit. WE think it feels more like a casual Sri Lankan curry joint than a Spanish eatery. That’s until you order one of the cold European white wines!

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Cadiz

Cadiz won’t disappoint when the waves are switched off. It’s a stunning city that conceals historic treasures dating back millennia. Oh, and there are lovely beaches and popping nightlife venues to boot…

The old center of Cadiz

La Caleta Beach

This small inlet on the immediate west side of Cadiz might look more like a harbour than a surf spot. That’s actually because it is. In fact, it’s the spot where many of the town’s former inhabitants and invaders moored their fleets in their respective eras, from the Romans to the Phoenician Greeks. Full of history and also good for a sunbathe!

Cadiz historic center

Some estimations make Cadiz the most venerable city in the whole of Europe. Founded by the Greeks more than 3,000 years ago, it’s old town is a layer cake of history. Be sure to get exploring that to see the mighty Old Cathedral, Roman ruins, and half-crumbled city walls from centuries gone by!

How to get to Cadiz

  • Fly: Look to fly into the Jerez Airport. Its a little to the northwest of Cadiz’s surf beaches and old town, but has a good selection of low-cost carriers jetting in from Germany, London and domestic Spanish cities.
  • Drive: Having your own car is a dream for surfing in Cadiz. It will let you break away to the southern beaches whenever there’s swell, but also lets you explore the less-reliable breaks to the north. Conveniently, the town is a stop on the E5 motorway as it skirts around the edge of Andalusia. Just be warned that parking can be a nightmare in Cadiz’s old core.
  • Train: High-speed RENFE and AVIA services link Cadiz to other Spanish towns and city. The most frequent connections come in from Jerez and Seville. You’ll arrive at Cádiz Railway Station close to the area of Santa María in the Old Town.

Travel insurance for trips to Cadiz

Whether you’re coming to Spain to hit the Cadiz surf in winter or just want to drop into this old city before whizzing out to other surf towns on the Costa de la Luz, it’s good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong on your surf trip. We’ve often used World Nomads. Their policies cover a range of adventure sports and activities. You can read more about their cover for surf right here.

All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.


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 article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Spain

You may also like

Leave a Comment