Eurovacations: Cantabria, Spain
Main cities: Santander (population: 185,000), Torrelavega (population: 55,000).
Wave type: Pointbreaks, reefbreaks, beachies, big wave spots with a large variety to choose from depending on the direction of the swell and wind. You’re only enemy is a straight north wind (or no swell).
When to go: September to May. Winter sees the most powerful swells and this is when Cantabria’s spots really light up. Autumn and spring days are often blessed with south winds, which is offshore. There’s surf all year round but in the summer waves are less consistent.
Rubber: 4/3mm during winter months, a 3/2 in spring and a spring suit in summer. If you don’t mind the cold, you can try braving boardies in July, August and start of September. In winter a good pair of booties will come in handy.
Boards: Considering the broad range of breaks, it’s a good idea to bring more than one board. And if you like to charge big surf then pack your gun for big days at Santa Marina. Otherwise, bring your everyday shortboard and a step-up board for those hollow days that the beachbreaks of Los Locos and El Brusco can occasionally offer up.
Swells: The advantage of Cantabria is that you’ll find waves that work with all types of swell and wind combinations apart from N wind, (various spots can handle NW and NE winds). A NW swell works best, lighting up most of the breaks. Most of the well-known beachbreaks will hold up to 6-foot but Cantabria also offers big wave options as well as sheltered spots.
Best waves: Despite lacking a bounty of world-class wave, Cantabria boasts one of the most diverse coastlines with one of the highest concentration of consistent waves in Spain. El Brusco and Los Locos are beachbreaks that are often compared to the barrels of Hossegor. For many years the huge right at Santa Marina acted as a playground for Cantabrian big wave surfers. There’s also a left on the other side of the island, which is pretty gnarly and mainly surfed by boogies. Cantabria offers a lot more than the list of spots you’ll find in surf guides and the opportunity to surf on your own once you move away from the better known spots like El Brusco, Los Locos and El Sardinero.
Cantabria: The province is one of the prettiest in Spain with a rich combination of coastline, mountains and wildlife, with various protected reserves and national parks. A good place to bring your sweetheart along too, as there’s plenty other stuff to do: sports, beaches, museums, historical sites, prehistoric caves, good food and great fiestas!
Accommodation: There’re all types for all tastes and budgets. The campsite is your cheapest option but it’s easy to find a room for 10 -15 euros a night in hostels and ‘pensiones’. A wide choice of surf camps and schools also offer accommodation possibilities, although mainly open in the summer months.
Avoid: Try to avoid surfing at El Sardinero in the summer months, as it’s actually forbidden!
Nightlife: Spain’s nightlife is world-famous and Cantabria is no exception. Being a pretty touristy area summertime is total mayhem, particularly in Noja, Santander and Suances (good on a Wednesday night!).
Watch out for: Thieving on the busy beaches, thieving from parked cars, don’t surf in Santander in the summer.