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Blue Tomato

Stormrider Guide to surfing Hossegor

France, EUROPE


Hossegor surf at La Graviere, Roger Sharp

Summary

+ Top-quality beachbreaks - No sheltered spots
+ Hollow consistent waves - Frequent onshores
+ Empty beaches - Beachbreaks only
+ Summer parties - Cold water in winter

Hossegor surf is the epicentre of the 230km coastline called the Côte d’Argent, the longest uninterrupted stretch of sandy beach in Europe.

Swells are focused then refracted on to the coast near Hossegor by a deep-water canyon, which helps shape sandbars that hold world-class beachbreaks. These exceptionally powerful, hollow, perfect peaks have attracted the world’s best competitive surfers and the European surf industry to this corner of France. Big currents, large tidal ranges and extreme wind exposure do little to deter the ever-growing crowds of riders looking for some of the best beachbreaks on the planet.


When to Go

Consistent, high-latitude W-NW swells can reach up to 15ft, but the straight coastline has no protection from the dominant NW winds. As a cold front approaches, winds usually clock around from the SW to WNW, blowing-out the surf for several days with wet and windy conditions. When a high pressure system sits over the land, morning offshores are followed by a moderate NW sea breeze that blows from noon until dusk. The 4.5m tide factor is crucial and as the saying goes "If the waves look good, you've probably missed it".

Surf Spots

Le Penon often holds some really good higher tide shorebreaks that entertain the mix of locals and travellers. Unmanageable rips and impossible paddle-outs at double overhead. Attracts huge summer crowds to the water park, fairground rides and tourist shops. Les Bourdaines is probably the most popular and consistent spot in Seignosse. Stable sandbanks have forged this reputation over the years and there always seems to be a defined left/right just south of the path and multiple peaks up towards Penon. Dead high tide will be a struggle when small and diagonal super rips can hold up the close-outs when the faces exceed 8ft. Top quality peaks appear when a good W-NW swell hits the sand at Les Estagnots. Handles a bit more size than Bourdaines and Penon, but expect severe long-shore drift when bigger. High tide inside banks can be hollow and fast. Always a crowd and the odd combative local. Les Cul Nuls is the link between the normal beachbreaks to the north and the heavy barreling shories of ✪La Graviere. Sited on an old gravel pit, this is the legendary Hossegor tube spot. Like all transient Landes sandbars, La Grav has its good years and bad years, but it’s reliable enough to be the venue of choice for the annual pro-surfing competitions. Sometimes white-caps outside, rolls in and reforms, standing up over the shallow inside bars. Heavy, thick-lipped beasts, break perilously close to shore and often close-out, snapping more boards than just about anywhere. Tidal range radically affects the window for ideal conditions, as does swell period, which decides if it is messy and inconsistent or lined-up and bombing through. Usually better at mid to high tides. The rip speed usually rises in direct proportion with the swell height and on big days, only the tow crew will be able to get into the sets before being swept south in the current. Humbling for all, including the barrel experts and the pros. Spectator spot when big and usually rammed when smaller. La Nord is usually the only rideable beachbreak north of Capbreton when the swell heads towards 3m on the Biscay buoy. The shifting, outside bank holds triple overhead plus and favours rights into the rip torn paddling channel. Steep drops and fast walls with barrel sections mean extra inches are a good idea. Can work at all tides but mid is the best bet. Heavy water when the rips are in full flow and La Nord is always crowded, often with the local SUP crew. Beside the rivermouth jetty, La Sud is always smaller and easier to handle than anywhere to the north. Far less current and a fuller wave profile gives beginner/improvers somewhere to surf away from the rippers. Plenty of straighthanders and turns into an unsurfable shorebreak on high tide. Tucked along the port’s south jetty, L’Estacade is the ultimate shelter with laughable size compared to exposed beaches. Handles some N wind. Sometimes full and bloated, occasionally sucky and closing-out, but never perfect. Stronger winter swells concentrate surfers at Le Prévent, fighting for one of the steep, sucky, sand-churning slammers that might just hold up enough for a short, fast ride. There’s often a left into the rips near the southern groyne and a stable right at the north end. Plenty of close-outs and terrible backwash on high tide. Le Santocha is the most regularly surfed wave in Capbreton, since it picks up swells that close-out the open beaches and forms up nice, fat peaks. Good drops followed by slopey walls and close-out inside section. A righthander tends to form along the groyne and it gets much hollower the further south you drift. La Piste/VVF is one of the most photographed beaches on the coast, thanks to perfect barrels being regularly on offer for those that can handle the air drops and some solid floggings amongst the packs of gifted locals and tube-hungry visitors. From low to mid tide is prime time, when the swell focuses on banks that seem to have a bit more punch and urgency than just about anywhere in Hossegor. Capbreton Pointe is actually just another stretch of the dead straight beach, but favourable sand formation can give the wave nice shape. Can be some bad vibes in the water and regular vehicle break-ins. With a moderate NW swell and offshores, heavy peaks, close to shore, provide tube time for the local Labenne-Ocean crew. Tarnos Plage is very similar to Labenne and Ondres, with weak low tide rides in small swell, before awakening in overhead to double-overhead W-NW swell and serving up chunky, powerful barrels. The extensive, curved jetty at Boucau helps shape the sandbanks and gives a little protection from S winds, but not from the pollution flowing out from the heavily industrialised Adour. Currents can be strong, but necessary to get out at size and only experienced surfers will handle the demanding, unfriendly line-up.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW
swell size (ft) 7-8 6-7 5 3 6 7
consistency (%) 50 60 80 70 90 60
dominant wind W -NW W -NW W -NW W -NW NE -E W -NW
average force F5 F5 F4 F3 F3 F5
consistency (%) 36 37 38 39 31 40
water temp (C) 12 13 17 21 18 15
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 springsuit 3/2 3/2

Travel Information

Weather
The Pyrenees mountains greatly influence the southern Landes weather bringing regular annual rainfall. Winters can be damp and cool, until stable weather arrives from March to October. March-April can have occasional warm spells, but spring is usually windy with squalls, rain and choppy swells. May and June are good months despite the cooler water. Summers can get some hot days before the sea breeze cuts in. Autumn weather can be perfect with cool mornings, warm daytime temps and comfortable water temps. Take a 4/3 fullsuit for winter, a 3/2 for mid-season, and a shorty or boardies for the warmer days that can reach 24ºC (75ºF).

Lodging and Food
Hossegor and Capbreton have multiple accommodation options for all budgets. There are dozens of summer surf camps/retreats/schools. A typical restaurant bill is $20, not including wine. Seafood in Capbreton is big.

Nature and Culture
Golf, sailing, beach fishing, lake SUP, jet-skiing, water slides and skate parks plus crazy summer parties are some of the distractions. Rockfood is the most popular tourist bar right on the beach at Front de Mer, Hossegor. Winter is mellow as anything up to 75% of the region’s coastal zone housing stock are second homes and often remain empty until the warmer months.

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