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Sopelana

Sopelana

Bizkaia - Basque Country , Spain

Surf, SUP, Bodyboard

Sopelana is a coastal town located in the Basque Country in northern Spain. It is known as the Basque North Shore due to its full exposure to the Cantabrian Sea and because some of the most well-known European spots can be found there. Among those are the consistent beachbreaks La Salvaje and Larabasterra but within a few minutes you’ll also find Punta Galea towards the east and Meñakoz to the west, along with Mundaka which is just half an hour away. This gives you an idea of the importance and relevance of the place, an enclave which has been for many years, for its history, waves and location, one of the Spanish surf meccas and is without doubt, one of Europe’s surf capitals. Sopelana is a perfect starting place for an incredible surf trip around the Basque Country as it’s just twenty kilometres from Bilbao city and its international airport. It’s easy to get to from Bilbao along the A-8 motorway or along the N-637 towards Getxo and then the BI-637 from Getxo along the Uribe Kosta road until you reach Sopelana.

The Sopelana coastline is made up of large protected beaches nestled among the high cliffs which surround them. There are two main beaches, Barinatxe or La Salvaje as it is better known to the west, and the larger Larabasterra to the east. Larabasterra is divided into two zones, Arrietara on the left and Atxabiribil on the right. The zone furthest to the right is known as Peñatxuri and if you go a little further east towards Barrika, you’ll find the legendary big wave spot that is Meñakoz. This place is within walking distance along a trail and is worth a visit to see the spectacular cliffs and wild, pebble beaches which are virtually sand less due to the strong currents.

Sopelana

There is a good atmosphere all year round at this spot and due to its proximity, it can be considered as the local beach of the great city Bilbao. It’s a spot where if the conditions are good, there are excellent quality waves for high level surfing, for example at peaks like La Triangular, however the best is that due to the size of the beaches, there are multiple options for all levels. Sopelana has been the headquarters for important events from the World Bodyboard and Surf circuits, like for some rounds of the legendary Billabong Pro Mundaka if the conditions at the famous world class left don’t meet the standards. World class surfers such as the Acero brothers grew up there and there are numerous clubs and surf schools such as Pukas Surf Eskola and the Quiksilver Surf Eskola which is run by one of the biggest Basque surfers, the legendary Gorka Yarritu.

Conditions

One of Sopelana’s most relevant characteristics is that it is the most exposed part of this stretch of coastline and therefore a very consistent zone throughout the whole year. It gets waves even with just a small swell, although the best conditions are with a 1 to 2 m NW swell and offshore winds from the S. It’s quite cold in this part of Spain during the winter so you’ll need at least a 4 mm wetsuit, hood and booties. You can surf with a shorty in the summer and around 3 mm between seasons.

The most well-known peaks in Larabasterra from Arrietara to Atxabiribil are La Reserva, El Pasillo and most of all, El Peñón, a peak recognisable for its rocks. It has lefts and rights which break over the rocks with all tides. The last peak to highlight is El Sitio, a left point break which can hold up to 2 m with low tide. This is the busiest peak but with patience and respect you can enjoy some good waves. La Salvaje has three well-defined breaks. The first, La Batidora, is on the left side of the beach and it’s where the best lefts break. Several peaks break in the centre of the beach over a sandy bottom, the lefts are generally better and they work best with a falling mid tide. Finally, on the right side you have La Triangular which is perhaps the best peak in the whole zone because when it works it is the best quality and has the best size. La Triangular is located right in front of the rocks which separate the beach with Arrietara, and has lefts and right over a rock and sand bottom. It can easily hold up to two metres. The right is long and manoeuvrable and the left is shorter but more vertical and punchy. As it’s so open, La Salvaje doesn’t need much swell to get waves so it starts working from half a metre with NW swell.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Beachbreak
  • Wind
    S - SE - SW
  • Tide
    All tides
  • Swell
    W - NW - NNW
  • Bottom
    Sand - rocks
  • Time of year
    All year round
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