The Ultimate Guide to Salinas Surf

by Nuno D'Angelo

Check out the Salinas surf – the most famous in the wave-bashed region of Asturias and some of the finest on th north coast.

Salinas surf at a glance

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The good

  • Hoovers up swell, so can work in midsummer
  • Mellow waves from May to August
  • Close to other great Asturian spots

The bad

  • Some pollution from the Alives industry
  • A touch of localism

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

What’s in this guide to Salinas surf?

An introduction to Salinas surf

Salinas surf

It’s okay to call Salinas the swell-magnet of Asturias. It is. Facing west and north, it hoovers up any cross-Atlantic swells that find their way into the Bay of Biscay. Consequently, it’s emerged as the region’s top learner spot, because summers often work just as well – if not better – than winters. We’d still say spring and autumn top the bunch, but the point is that Salinas surf works when elsewhere is dead.

The wave is mainly concentrated on the single beachfront of Playa del Espartal. It’s pretty chilled for the most part and relies on shifting sandbanks. Most years these will align to give hollow and rippable faces to the north end and smaller, cruisier waves to the south and west end, but there’s no hard and fast rule. It’s also worth pointing out that Salinas is in the midst of some of Asturias’s top breaks. Spots like Xago and De Bayas, along with the urban beaches of Gijon, are worth it if you can get a car.

Where is Salinas?

15 miles west of Gijon and 16 miles north of the regional capital of Oviedo, Salinas sits on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. The Cantabrian Sea dominates to the north. The industrial town of Aviles and it’s big rivermouth is to the east. It’s very much the heart of north-western Spain’s main surf territory.

A guide to Salinas surf spots

Salinas relies on one huge beach break and a few surrounding beaches. Thankfully, they’re some of the best-quality surf spots in all of Asturias.

Xago

Xago is a corker of a break. It’s a bit of a trek from the Salinas surf on Playa del Espartal because it requires a drive around the industrial sprawl of Aviles. However that takes only 20-25 minutes and means you can ditch the ugly chimneys and whatnot in the process. A beachbreak with good pickup on the NW Atlantic channel, Xago is all about peaky and fast waves that are both left and right. Can be busy but always fun when there’s anything over 3 foot on the menu.

Playa del Espartal

Playa el Espartal is the spot in Asturias. It’s the name for the 1.5-mile run of sand that fringes the town to the north. Orientated to the north-west, the beachfront has countless breaks. That helps the line up spread out a bit – a godsend because localism can be a issue. Things tend to be bigger towards the north-east side of the bay. There, the wave wall up and run faster. They’re also often hollow and can handle sets up to 7 feet. Further south-west towards the headland is extra protection from westerly winds. That area is a gift in the winter months when onshores play havoc with it all. Generally, though, the sets there are smaller and mellower, favoring lefts. Usually works better on high tide but crowds will thin out at low.

Playon De Bayas

We’ll go out on a limb and say that Playon De Bayas is the best break on the lineip of the Salinas surf. Why? Well, the wave might not be as hollow as Salinas itself, but the crowds thin out considerably down this western section of shoreline. What’s more, the beach is way prettier, with runs of dune behind and vistas of the mountains in the distance. Pollution isn’t such a big issue this far from the Alives works, either. The harbor wall to the west churns out the best waves: Strong, zippy lefts for shortboarders.

Essential gear for surf trips to Spain

Wetsuits (men):

  • [SUMMER – April to September] C-Skins Session 3/2 | Again, we’ve focused on the flex when it comes to choosing the right summer suit for Spain. That’s mainly because thermo features can take a back seat when the mercury cranks up here. You’ll need arm coverage to counter the winds, but then you can afford to add features like the Freedom Zip and Xtend 2 neoprene that C-Skins do so well. All very eco-friendly too, which is nice.
  • [WINTER – October to March] Rip Curl E-Bomb E7 4/3mm | The Rip Curl E-Bomb benefits from uber-stretchy E7 neoprene. Boys in the office won’t stop going on about how it’s like surfing in a rash vest. That’s a nice touch on the waves of Basque and Cantabria, which often need a lot of repositioning. The 4/3 should carry you right through the Spanish winter months. A cracking wetsuit.

Wetsuits (women):

  • [SUMMER – April to September] Billabong 302 Synergy 3/2mm Chest Zip Wetsuit (2021) – Blue Seas | The latest Synergy from Billabong has really impressed the European team at The Surf Atlas. The interior has a fleece lining that keeps super toasty but the neoprene is lighter than usual to give you more freedom on those longer sessions. It’s a solid go-to suit for all levels heading to Spain if you ask us. How bout’ that colour too!?
  • [WINTER – October to March] C-Skins 4/3mm Surflite Wetsuit | A 4/3 should see you through all but the coldest days on the Spanish coast. We love this C-Skins model because there’s been a big focus to cut down seams, while the Xtend neoprene offers an extra touch of flex, which is important on the Basque and Asturian breaks where paddling and positioning is key.

SUNSCREEN: Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen | Do not even think about surfing in Spain without sunscreen. This is one of Europe’s most UV-rich corners. Great for the tan, but surfers shouldn’t risk it. Our block of choice is now the Suntribe because it’s got that all-importnat zinc infusion but is 100% natural and ocean safe.

WATER BOTTLE: 18 Oz Hydro Flask | Now our water flask of choice, the Hydro range does better at keeping our aqua warm than any other brand we’ve tried. Also, all the other surfers are using em!

WAX: Quick Humps Mr Zogs Sex Wax Basecoat and Cool Water Topcoat Surfboard Wax | Re-wax before you get to Spain with this combo pack of tropical (for the base) and cool-water wax (for the top coat). It covers everywhere in Spain.

Where to stay when surfing in Salinas?

Salinas has a good bunch of upcoming hostels, mainly down to the growing surf crowd…

El Pez Escorpion ($-$$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

El Pez Escorpion is an active traveler’s hostel with loads of character. We think it looks more like a South American casita – aka it’s pretty cool. Location for surfing is second to none, as the beach is right out front. Prices are nice on the wallet.

Las Dunas Hostel ($)

Best for: Budget

A few blocks back from Salinas Beach (Playa del Espartal), Las Dunas Hostel is exactly what you’d expect of a surf-town budget stay. Dorm rooms never break the budget. But it’s really all about the atmosphere – live bands by evening and drinking sessions with new buddies. You can also rent board on site!

Salimar 23 ($$-$$$)

Best for: Group surf trips

If you’re coming to hit the Salinas surf with your crew, check out this seaside apartment. It can sleep up to five, has a modern kitchen and dining space, and is within walking distance of the waves.

When to surf in Salinas

Salinas is well-known for its reliability. You can come pretty much anytime of the year and get something good. Check it out…

Summer (June-Septmember)

The Salinas surf season is a little different to the surf seasons of other spots in northern Spain. Because this one’s the swell magnet of the region, it can often max out in big winter storms. Over 8 foot and you’ve had it. Close outs dominate. They rarely pull in through the Bay of Biscay from June to August, so things are more chilled, glassier, and shorter. That makes for prime longboarding or beginner conditions, and Salinas is now making a name for itself as one of the best places to learn to surf in Spain because of it. Also: Don’t forget a good sunscreen – this season is hot!

Autumn (September-October)

Our favourite season to hit the waves in Salinas. This one’s got the cost consistently medium swells and the cleanest conditions. You’ll also notice that the beachgoing crowd thins out a whole load. Oh, and prices in the hotels drop. Easterly winds are common and that helps add shape to the wave faces on Playa del Espartal.

Winter (December-Feb)

The colder months herald the peak surf season in the rest of much of north Spain. It’s usually got the strongest of the NW and W swells, meaning protected breaks from Mundaka to Pais Vasco can get firing on all cylinders. Salinas is a little exposed to be as reliable, but it’s still got great breaks. It will be better on smaller to medium swells at this time, though. Consider driving elsewhere when it’s real big!

Spring (March-April)

Spring hits another happy medium on the Salinas surf. high winter days quell a little and you get some very reliable groundswell periods that throw in 5-foot sets day after day. Or, it could be total flat or a blowout – it’s a roll of the dice. The odds are in your favour though, and e count about 50% of the days are surfable from March to April.

Be sure to check out our gear guides:


If you can think of anything to add to this ultimate guide to Salinas surf, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. We always want to hear of local spots, new surf camps, places to eat – anything goes!

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 and surfing in Asturias

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