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Learning To Surf In San Sebastian
Learning to surf in San Sebastian is high on everybody’s bucket lists.
We’ve got the run down of the best spots to learn to surf, and the people to do it with
JOSEPHINE RYAN MURPHY
San Sebastián is for many the epicentre of Spanish surfing, a hotspot renown not just across Spain, but across the globe, and here at Stoke Travel, we are big, big fans. For a generation of Spaniards, San Sebastián is synonymous with the word surfing, and is the perfect place to come to learn to surf, and to continue to hone your skills. With several beaches in the city itself, and countless more in the surrounding regions, it’s the perfect spot to get your sea legs when you’re first starting to surf.
Best Spots to surf in San Sebastian
One of our favourite things about San Sebastian is its location as a city right on the beach. The Old Town spills out onto La Concha beach, giving killer views and minimal metres to walk from shops to shore. But La Concha has no waves. Across the bridge is where you want to be if you’re hunting the surf – La Zurriola. Our spiritual home, a stones throw away from where the Stoke Surf House San Sebastián all started, La Zurriola is the best spot to surf in the city of San Sebastián, as the throngs of locals and surf tourists from up and down the coast will attest.
It’s a great place to surf – if you know what you’re doing. But for learning, it can be a little bit stressful, which is why we have our own preferred spot…
Best Spots to Learn to surf in San Sebastian
Whilst not strictly in San Sebastián, Playa de Zarautz is by far a superior beach to get your water wings, when it comes to your first time on a board, and is just up the coast. Sure, La Zurriola in San Sebastián is a pretty picture, but it can be a nightmare spot to learn for inexperienced surfers, due to the narrow width of the beach, and the sheer number of local and foreign surfers fighting over minimal waves.
With a 2.8km sand bank stretching across the Basque coastline, Playa de Zarautz is perfect for beginners and shredders alike. It’s an easy going beach break, with plenty of other surfers there getting to grips with their boards and picking up the basics. That’s not to say Zarautz is just for novices, though – Playa de Zarautz is home to some of the best surfers that have come out of Europe in the past few decades.
If you want to learn to surf in san sebastian, how’s it gonna go down?
For anyone planning on coming to San Sebastián and learning to surf for the first time, we’ve made a little guide to prepare you for your first surf lesson. Have a read and then come visit us!
Before you go near the water, you’ve got to go through the spiel. You’ll be introduced to your board and your surf instructor. You’ll have to smile through the deep struggle of carrying an eight-foot board so you don’t look like too much of a newbie in front of your – more than likely – attractive surf instructor as you head down to the beach. Once you’re down there, you’ll get a run through of everything you need to know; you’ll practise “popping up” on the beach and get some theory about the currents and rips in the water. All in all, it’ll sound simple enough. Unfortunately, most things are not as easy as they sound.
Getting Into And Out Of The Wetsuit
Clambering in and out of the suffocating rubber body-cage is maybe the worst part about surfing. Luckily in San Sebastian during summer it’s usually warm enough to wear just a shorty but if you can’t handle colder waters, or head there out of the summer months, you’ll have to deal with the horrors of a full wetsuit. Squishing all your parts into the leg and arm holes isn’t too bad, as long as you don’t get your hair caught in the zipper. Getting it off, however, is a whole different story. You’ll be incredibly tired after hours of paddling around and if you’re in any way cold, trying to grip your fingers into the neoprene to pull yourself out of your rubbery tomb is pretty painful. Eventually you’ll free your arms from their damp prison and that’ll seem like a good time to give in for a while and just take a break from your wetsuit escape and lie in the sand defeated.
Get ready to swallow a serious amount of salty water. Waves that from the shore looked pretty tame will suddenly be all up in your face and pushing you around all over the place; it’ll be impossible to figure out where there hell you even are. Your dreams of looking like some hot surfer girl or guy will be crushed as your hair is matted to your face and you flail around gasping with snot pouring out your nose. However, this is all a part of it – every surfer went through it. Chill out, there are plenty of beginners in San Sebastian and you can be guaranteed that even though you may feel like you’re making a fool of yourself, no-one except your surf instructor is paying any attention and they’ve seen it a thousand times before. Just learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy it, you little snot monster.
Your First Wipeout
You’ll feel the board start to move under you and you’ll assume it can’t be that hard. Clambering up on the board you won’t even have time to figure out how it all went wrong. You’ll fall backwards or nose dive or maybe just faceplant off the side, and the whole world will become a spinning, blue, watery hell. For what feels like an eternity – but is actually just a few seconds – you’ll spin around in a mess of flailing limbs and panic, eventually surfacing and being completely fine. You’ve successfully survived your first wipeout and it wasn’t even that bad, you’ll be a wipeout pro by the end of the lesson; you can handle anything those waves have to throw at you.
Your First Wave
The best feeling ever! You’ll feel like you can do literally anything. Your surf instructor gave your board a good shove and it somehow all finally came together. You’re flying, the wind is in your hair, the sun is reflecting off the crystal clear blue water onto your already cherry-red face. You’ll throw your arms in the air, going against everything your surf instructor taught you about your stance on the surfboard and watch San Sebastian’s beautiful coastline go sideways as you probably fall straight off but who cares! You can surf now.
You made it! Think about how far you’ve come today, the things you’ve been through. Your whole body probably aches and you’re probably hungrier than you’ve ever been before. You know what you need right now? A good meal and a shit tonne of alcohol. Celebrate how great you did today! Head back to the San Sebastian surf camp, get a good hot meal served up to you and spend the rest of the night drinking so much that you completely forget everything you just learnt, you’ve earned it.
To join us for some San Seb surfing, come hang out at our surf house!
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