With quieter beaches and better swell, there's no excuse not to book an autumn surfing break.
As the summer holiday crowds die down and the autumn swell picks up, September is a great month for a surf trip.
Despite outside temperatures beginning to cool, the sea often stays warm well into October and November retaining the heat it absorbed throughout the summer. With the nights drawing in across the Northern Hemisphere, stunning sunsets will act as magical backdrops to your evening sessions.
Though September may have you heading south in search of heat, there are some surprising options on this list if you don’t mind less than ideal weather. After all, who cares about the rain if you are already wet anyway?
Here are our top picks for an autumn surf getaway.
This seaside town roughly 30 km north of Biarritz is a renowned surf destination. Its streets are filled with surf shops on every corner and campervans laden with boards.
At the heart of the town is La Graviere, one of the world’s top-rated beach breaks - where waves are created by a shallow sandy shoreline.
Although summer sees smaller peaks with everyone paddling out for some fun, as the seasons change the swells increase and it becomes a place for more serious sportspeople. If you come in autumn, expect bigger waves and some of the best barrels you’ll ever experience.
This is just part of the region’s 225km stretch of golden sand, however, with more than enough space for surfers of all abilities.
This old fishing village north of Lisbon is generally recognised as one of Europe’s best surf destinations. Just 40 minutes from Portugal’s capital city, getting there is a breeze and accommodation options range from budget-friendly hostels to your own private flat.
Set in a valley between two cliffs, Ribeira d’Ilhas is a favourite of seasoned surfers. It is one of the longest right point breaks in the world with its reefs and powerful seas providing some of the best waves in the world.
If you are new to the sport, Foz do Lizandro is a good spot for beginners. Even if you are travelling without your own board or wetsuit, this beach has options for renting everything you’ll need to give surfing a go.
When you inevitably come out of the water starving hungry, there is also a great selection of cafes, restaurants and bars right on the beach.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Though technically still in Europe, Fuerteventura’s location off the coast of Africa means that it has some of the best year-round weather of any of the choices on this list. It lives up to its name, however, so expect the coastline to be pretty windy.
Once you’ve got past the nerve-wracking landing at El Mattoral Airport, head up to Corralejo. This town offers the perfect base for exploring the various beaches the island has to offer.
Flag Beach, located in a beautiful natural park on the outskirts of Corralejo, offers a more relaxed experience for learners. Those looking for a more challenging experience can head west from the town to ‘The Bubble’, infamous for being one of Fuerteventura’s best but most difficult surf spots.
For something unique, take a ferry out to Los Lobos. This dormant volcano offers stunning views as you take advantage of the big swells that roll in from the Atlantic Ocean. Surf until you can surf no more - or until the boat comes to pick you up at the end of the day.
Donostia San Sebastian, Spain
Close to the Basque Country’s best waves, this is arguably one of the top places for a surf camp in Spain. It is full of hostels, tapas bars and good nightlife making it great for those looking for more than just a beach holiday.
Conditions can be pretty flat during the summer so a September trip is ideal to get the best out of San Sebastian’s surf. The inner-city break of Zurriola is the surf beach to visit as the open bay is exposed to swells from the north.
La Concha to the west can be pretty unpredictable, but when conditions are good it is great for those learning the sport. When they aren’t, you can engage in a spot of stand up paddleboarding to while away the hours with another board based activity.
North Cornwall, UK
Admittedly less sunny than some of the other choices on this list, North Cornwall is still a great place to catch a wave when autumn rolls around. Escape the crowds of holidaymakers that swarm this coast during summer, brave the cold and book a break in September instead.
North of the famous surf town of Newquay, Watergate Bay is a two-mile stretch of sand that churns out good quality waves along its entire length. Though the middle of the beach can get packed, take a short walk to either end to find a quieter peak. Just be sure not to get cut off from the access road when the tide comes in.
Polzeath is probably one of the most famous surf beaches in North Cornwall and is great for beginners. It has some of the UK’s best surf schools and lifeguards on duty through to the 29th of September, so you’ll be in good hands if you are brand new to the sport.
This historic fishing town has recently become a popular tourist destination. Don’t let its popularity put you off though as it has held on to its roots with some incredible harbourside seafood restaurants. Many choose to stay in Peniche as a base to explore the incredible beaches on either side of the town.
September is the best time of year for intermediate and advanced surfers to take advantage of the conditions so beginners might be better to sit this one out. Hollow, powerful tubes and world-class surfing conditions can be found at the aptly named Supertubos beach. It is perfectly located to catch the swell from powerful autumn storms in the Atlantic and sheltered from the strong winds that can otherwise plague this stretch of coast.
When you inevitably need a break from catching top quality waves, a boat trip out to the nature reserve on the Ilha da Berlengas is a must. Its secluded coves, interesting history and translucent waters mean it is the perfect spot for a dive if you get sick of time spent on dry land.