Surfing on the largest Canary Island
SURFING IN TENERIFE
Your guide for surfing in Tenerife brings you closer to riding first-class waves in a varied landscape on the beautiful volcanic island of Tenerife, just a short flight from Europe. The largest of the Canary Islands offers warm weather and very consistent swell all year round, both in the south and north of the island. In addition to its scenic diversity and its unique climate, Tenerife offers excellent surf spots to meet the needs of surfers of all levels. Whether beginner, advanced or even professional surfers — among long point breaks, fast reef breaks and snappy beach breaks, everyone will find the right wave to surf in Tenerife.
The Canary Islands
Seven main islands and 6 secondary islands make up the volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands. Unique landscapes and sights make them an exciting destination in Europe. Besides a great variety on land, it is the numerous surf spots with first-class waves for surfing and learning to surf that make islands like Tenerife attractive for surfers and active travellers alike.
The European Hawaii
The Canary Islands are made up of seven main islands and six secondary islands. The archipelago is part of a geographical region called Macaronesia (English: blessed or happy islands). This also includes Cape Verde, the Azores, the Madeira Archipelago and the Ilhas Selvagens.
The main islands of the Canary archipelago include Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma. Each island is different and has its own unique landscapes and sights, making it an exciting destination for active holidaymakers, nature lovers and surfers worldwide – with year-round sunshine and no persistent rainy seasons. Located in the eastern Central Atlantic, about 150 to 250 kilometres west of the coast of Morocco and the Western Sahara, the Canary Islands are already geologically part of Africa, but politically still part of Spain.
They are often called the Hawaii of Europe, which is not far-fetched considering their volcanic origin, the consistently mild climate, the varied landscapes and the countless surf spots.
Surf holidays on the Canary Islands
Surfing on the Canary Islands means surfing in a laid-back island atmosphere that combines a mix of Caribbean, Latin American and European cultures, as well as a variety of natural wonders and numerous surf spots for beginners to professional surfers.
Thanks to their location in the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands are exposed to strong offshore winds that create some of the best conditions for surfing in the world. Strong swells that originate in the North Atlantic and hit the islands very hard, especially in winter, bless more than 100 surf spots with great surf and year-round chances of decent waves. From vibrant Gran Canaria to white-sand Fuerteventura and the breath taking waves of Tenerife and Lanzarote: the islands are diverse and will make your surf holidays in the Canary Islands a unique experience.
On Tenerife and co. you will find ideal conditions for surfing all year round. The diverse waves of the islands and the wonderful weather have made the Canary Islands a popular destination for surfers from all over the world since the 1970s.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven main islands of the Canary Islands. Its unique landscapes and varied coasts with numerous surf spots make the popular Canary Island an ideal destination for surfers and active travellers. Whether hikers, windsurfers or for surfing - among around one million inhabitants and five million tourists per year, Tenerife is home to water and outdoor sports enthusiasts as well as nature lovers from all over the world.
Island of the Superlative
With an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres, Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary archipelago in the eastern Central Atlantic. Its size and varying altitudes – from 0 to 3,717 metres above sea level – provide very special conditions for its contrasting landscapes, which attract visitors from all over the world.
With its Sahara sand and laurel forests, volcanic rocks and green palms, its pine forests and black sand beaches, Tenerife is undoubtedly the most varied of the Canary Islands.
For a reason, Tenerife is the island of superlatives, known beyond Europe for its distinctive microclimate and unique natural phenomena, one of the world’s clearest skies for stargazing, an underwater world with a fascinating biodiversity of fish and marine mammals at ocean depths of more than 3,000 metres, the world’s second-largest street carnival after Rio de Janeiro, and the world’s largest slide park with a standing wave for surfing and learning to surf.
Action and Relaxation
Tenerife may not be able to compete with the kilometre-long white dream beaches of its neighbouring island Fuerteventura, but it does offer a large number of beautiful places where you can surf particularly well and be active in all kinds of sports.
In addition to idyllic little bays with lava sand – where it’s wonderful to do nothing but relax – you’ll find a range of exciting activities for all ages and fitness levels: Hiking around the snow-capped Teide volcano or along flowering tajinaste, through unique lunar landscapes and the green mountains of Anaga, mountain biking through dense pine forests, climbing in the rocky canyons of one of Europe’s best climbing areas and kayaking along Europe’s second largest cliffs – there’s no chance of getting bored here.
But surfers will especially enjoy Tenerife’s varied coasts, with their numerous waves and surf spots for beginners as well as advanced surfers and surf cracks.
Spain´s highest mountain
Like a triangle, the island of Tenerife lies in the Atlantic Ocean. The largest of the Canary Islands was formed by volcanic activity, which gave the archipelago its very own charm.
The island is about 80 kilometres long, almost 50 kilometres wide and has an area of 2,035 square kilometres. It lies about 250 kilometres off the coast of Morocco and the Western Sahara but is only about 1,300 kilometres from the southern coast of mainland Spain. Both in the almost always sunny south and in the north of Tenerife, the 360 kilometres of coastline and the hinterland, especially at higher altitudes, offer contrasting landscapes with a rich variety of flora and fauna and towns worth visiting.
While the south, with its turquoise bays and exciting underwater world, primarily attracts visitors to its coasts, the north will take you to its mountains and forests. The centre of the island is a spectacular volcanic massive – with Tenerife’s highest point at 3,715 metres and Spain’s highest mountain, the Pico del Teide.
Surfing in Tenerife
If you want to surf or learn to surf in Tenerife, you don't have to worry too much about the best time to go, because basically surfing in Tenerife is possible all year round, even if there are some differences in the quality of the waves depending on the season.
Best conditions for surfing on the north and south coasts of Tenerife
Tenerife’s geographical location has the advantage that swells from all directions constantly hit the north and south coasts of the island almost undamped.
In the winter months between November and March, the waves in the north can reach a remarkable size. While experienced surfers enjoy the powerful Atlantic waves at the best surf spots in the north, there are opportunities for beginners and intermediates to escape to sheltered northern beaches or to catch a clean surf on the other side of the island. Many spots on the south coast are west facing, so they still get enough push to produce plenty of surf in the winter months, when the north is almost constantly on fire.
In summer, it is much quieter and the surf spots in the south as well as in the north of the island often invite you to boardshort and bikini surf. From June to October, Tenerife enjoys good south swells in addition to weaker north-west swells, allowing the beaches on the south coast, such as Las Américas or El Médano, to show off. Due to the friendlier conditions in summer and autumn, advanced and experienced surfers alike line up at the island’s main peaks, while long boarders evoke an absolute Hawaiian feeling with their style and surf beginners are happy about shallow waves to practice on.
A few factors that influence the choice of the best surf spot
The volcano Teide in the centre of the island, with its 3,715-metre height, provides a very extensive wind shadow even in the windy summer months, so that you can almost always find a clean wave for surfing somewhere all year round.
Well-known surf forecast sites provide information about the tides and more or less accurate information about wind and wave directions for more than 15 well-known surf spots on the north and south coasts of Tenerife. As always, of course, the information always varies greatly depending on the given subsoil of the spots, the incoming swell strength and swell direction as well as the orientation and protection of the surf spot. Only a close observation of the surf spot and its waves (take a little time for this) can tell you whether you are prepared for the surf conditions or not. You should also always observe and talk to other surfers to find out about currents, the appropriate tides and entry and ascent possibilities.
If you go on a surf safari with or without a surf course, you will quickly discover that there are far more spots and surfable waves than indicated online and in surf and travel guides. Let’s go!
Surf spots in the north of Tenerife
One of the most beautiful beaches on Tenerife
Even the journey to this beautiful surf spot will be an unforgettable experience during your surfing holiday in Tenerife. Through the deep green Anaga mountains, over endless curves and along fascinating viewpoints, the road winds down to the ocean. One of the three beaches of Taganana, Almáciga is the largest as well as the most consistent. With easy access over sand and plenty of outgoing white water, it is one of the best beach breaks for beginners and at the same time one of the most challenging for experienced surfers, because in bigger conditions there can be strong undercurrents that should be taken with caution. However, dozens of duckdives are rewarded with a fabulous right.
The nature of the volcanic island in its purest form
If you follow the road along Almáciga beach uphill for a few minutes, you will reach Benijo. From the car park of the adjacent restaurant, there is a path that leads you on foot to one of Tenerife’s most impressive surf beaches. The same conditions and recommendations apply to Benijo as to Almáciga – but you will have to carry your surf gear a little longer. The beaches of Taganana are also highly recommended for the non-surfers among you. Fantastic walks over the cliffs, a small idyllic fishing village with great restaurants and endless views along the coasts over the rock formations of Anaga are definitely worth a visit.
Igueste de San Andrés
Barrels and the best chocolate churros in Tenerife
Igueste de San Andrés is located northeast of Santa Cruz and is a left-breaking wave with partly steep sections running over sandy-stony ground. Attention, at low tide you should not necessarily push the waves to the limit. If the conditions are good, it gets very crowded and sometimes very uncomfortable in the water, because this wave is one of the best on the island and attracts the entire surf elite of Tenerife with a fantastic barrel. As a non-local, you should approach very respectfully and slowly and maybe take a few on the inside first. After your surf session, relax on Las Teresitas beach and try one of the local fish restaurants in San Andrés.
A large surf community, relaxed surf bars and good restaurants
If you don’t turn off in the town to the natural pools (piscinas naturales), but continue a little further in the direction of Punta del Hidalgo, you will reach a vantage point from where you can overlook the entire bay and check out the conditions of the surf spots, El Lobo and El Callado. Especially the peaks on the east side of the bay can withstand very big swells and still break clean and soft when it’s already way too big on other beaches. The descent to the beach is possible via a path below the ruined hotel. A very long left and an equally long right make this bay one of the most popular surf spots on Tenerife and especially beginners and advanced surfers enjoy their first green waves.
Los Dos Hermanos
Not only awesome with a powerful winter swell
From Bajamar, follow the road to Punta del Hidalgo to its end, where the buses turn around. From up here, you can look down to the right and already judge whether the conditions are worth going down. If so, you will find a gravel path leading down to the stone beach. It is better to park your car a little further away, especially if it is clearly recognisable as a “surf car”. The locals up here are not exactly the nicest. At the bottom, a left- and right-breaking wave awaits you, which can also cope with big swells. When all other spots in the area are no longer surfable, this spot is the first address, but it is not exactly suitable for beginners.
Adventure, surf safari, swimming fun and a perfect day at the beach
If you’re up for a surf safari and maybe even want to spend the night on the beach, then you should ask around for Los Patos and El Ancón beaches. Although wild camping is prohibited on most of the beaches, they are so winding that you don’t have to worry about a visit from the Gardia Civil. From the equally beautiful El Bollullo beach, walk along the hillside for about 15 minutes until you reach the first opportunity to turn back and head for the next cove. The spots get a similar amount of swell as Playa El Socorro. Crisp beach breaks that provide a lot of fun with a small swell, especially in summer. (Attention, sturdy shoes are an absolute must for the descent).
Surfing with a big audience in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz
When a huge swell hits the island and all the other spots in the north are too big, especially in the winter months between November and March, you can sometimes have a lot of fun here. Right in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz, just a few metres from the shopping mall, you can surf a very relaxed right. The big breaks are slowed down by the harbour wall, spilling over metres high until they hit a rock in the middle of the bay and a new and, above all, surfable wave builds up. Local surf schools give lessons here twice a day, so to avoid inconvenience and surf in a much more relaxed way, just wait a short while until the school is out again.
A safe address for surfers and a good destination for beach fans
This spot is a safe address almost all year round, as there are almost everyday waves here. The strongest beach break on the island runs more or less well at all tides and can also withstand strong swells. But as its name suggests (Socorro=help!), you must be very skilled at duck diving to get out. As soon as the north swell reaches almost one metre, paddling out through strong currents is no longer for beginners. Advanced surfers are then rewarded with a few clean-running peaks. Fast and steep waves that offer enough options for practising new or more radical manoeuvres. In summer, Socorro is a very good address for surfing beginners and intermediates.
La Caleta de Interián
Popular with surfers and fans of the local cuisine
If you are coming from the direction of Icod de los Vinos or from the former harbour town of Garachico, you should check out this surf spot. La Caleta has an easy entry via a pebble beach and a channel that lets you paddle comfortably to the line-up. A long, powerful right breaks over a deep stone reef. Clear wave walls and some challenging sections make every surfer’s heartbeat faster. Only when there is absolutely no wind do the breakers that run in through a north swell really build up here and spread out over the entire bay further east and towards the village. Surfing beginners will be happy on smaller days on the inside and near the shore.
Surf spots in the south of Tenerife
Las Américas is the tourist hub and party capital of the south of the island and has number of good to first-class breaks, all within easy reach of the beach promenade. If you stand on the Avenida Antonio Dominguez and look at the sea, you can decide whether to go to the right, to the left or to the middle for surfing.
La Izquierda (a long, hollow left), is a dream, but reserved for locals. To avoid problems, it is better to respect this. If you are lucky, during your stay you can see the best surfers of the Canary Islands and also the best surfers of the World Surf League competing here for a title and place in the world surfing rankings. When the Izquierda is on, the spot right next to it is also on. From here on, there are surf spots for all levels: El Medio. This beautiful A-frame wave usually offers very good conditions for beginners and intermediates as well as for experienced surfers. Take your time when going out, however, because the way over the offshore rocky reef is not without its difficulties.
El Bunca has a good and fast left at mid-tide. With a smaller north-west swell, however, surf beginners will also find their wave to practice here. When it is bigger in winter, only experienced surfers should paddle out. La Derecha del Cartel is the best right-hand wave in Las Américas, opposite the popular café-surfing spot, Metropolis. When it’s particularly good, the point is packed with locals. On such days, it’s a good idea to stay in the inside or move one spot to the left. La Piscina has something for everyone. Easy paddling out makes this spot very popular with advanced surfers and those who like a lot of fun and a relaxed climate with mixed surfing levels.
La Fitenia – Technically La Fitenia is no longer part of las Américas but is only a few minutes’ walk along the promenade. This surf spot already borders on the next beach, “La Playa Camisón”. Between the last two groynes, very good and long right and left breaking waves run here, especially in the summer months with a south swell – fast, steep and with a good push. Like the other surf spots in Las Américas, Fitenia is a reef break, but it has a very easy entry via the beach and allows relatively easy paddling out. In a small bay on its right side, there are also often good conditions for surf beginners with the outgoing waves and plenty of white water.
Punta Blanca & Charlet
"La Punta" is one of the most violent reef breaks on the island and not for the weak nerved
A single house on the shore marks El Charlet. The entrance is in the small bay or with a skilful jump from the lava rock. Sets should be waited for carefully, especially when leaving the water. Further left, you reach the spot Punta Blanca. This left is very fast and steep and only just breaks over a sharp rocky reef. It is therefore by no means suitable for beginners and very local. But those who are up to it can get some good barrels here. Those who want to watch the pros and some bodyboarders do their tricks can stroll leisurely along the new promenade. Since there is never much going on, this is also a good place to go surfing.
The longest natural beach in Tenerife and known worldwide for its wind and waves
The fishing village is picturesquely situated on the 170-metre-high volcano “Montaña Roja” and is one of the windiest places on the Canary Islands. Characterised by long beaches and relaxed bars with surf vibes and live music, many windsurfers and kite surfers from all over the world meet here to surf the best waves of the Canaries and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the legendary wave spot, however, the long flat beach break also offers ideal conditions to learn windsurfing or kitesurfing or simply to step on the gas. Surfing is also possible in El Médano. If you want to learn to surf on Tenerife, this spot offers the best conditions in spring and summer. South and wind swells provide relaxed waves at the beach break. Especially in the morning, when the wind is usually not so strong, the waves run into the bay in a cleaner and more orderly way.
El Porís de Abona
A safe place to learn to surf in small waves and to spend a nice day at the beach
You should definitely make a stop at the beautiful sandy beach of the charming little fishing village of El Porís, in the south-east of the island. The beach break is a very good surf spot for beginners and anyone who wants to surf some nice, long waves that roll a little more gently over the sand. El Porís beach is probably the windiest beach on the island after El Médano. It very much needs this wind, or a swell coming from the east, to create surfable waves. Some surf schools come here exclusively, because it is not dangerous compared to some of the other rocky surf spots on the volcanic island. If you don’t take a surf course, you’d better come equipped, because there is no surf shop in El Poris. Wetsuits and beginner boards for hire are best found in a surf shop in Candelaria or El Médano.
El Socorro de Güímar
Good waves in winter and one of the island's most famous festivals in summer
El Socorro de Güímar (Candelaria), or Socorro for short and not to be confused with the surf spot on the north coast, is a good alternative in the winter months. The black sand beach can be divided into two sections: A small quiet cove close to town that families especially prefer for relaxing and swimming, and an open fairly rocky beach break with stronger waves that offer some good rides for advanced and experienced surfers at mid tide. Even for beginners, the surf spot near La Candelaria offers plenty of surfing fun and enough white water to practice. However, as a beginner surfer, you should always go into the water together with your surf school, because only your surf instructor can tell you and show you exactly when this spot has the right conditions for you and where the best entry and exit points are.
When looking for suitable accommodation for your surfing holiday, the distance to the nearest surf spot certainly plays a very important role. However, since Tenerife offers surf spots all along its coastline, which are usually easy to reach thanks to good transport connections, you will find a wide range of different accommodations and therefore can put your focus on your preferences in terms of living ambience.
Something for everyone
From small studios to large hotel chains, fincas and villas, everything can be found on Tenerife and booked all year round; there are fewer real high and low seasons on Tenerife.
In the north
In the north of Tenerife, the area around Puerto de la Cruz is particularly recommended – here you’ll find the hustle and bustle of a historic small town and some nearby black beaches and surf spots suitable for beginners to tops, surrounded by banana plantations and the green landscapes and mountains of the north.
In the south
Hostels for backpackers, guesthouses for families or even luxury hotels for those who want the all-inclusive package can be found mainly in the south of Tenerife, in Las Américas and Los Cristianos. On this side of the island you will also find many small fishing villages such as El Médano and Alcalá, as well as historic mountain villages such as San Miguel de Abona and Arona, which offer a wide range of accommodation of all kinds.
For surfing holidays
If you want to stay in an authentic Canarian ambience during your surf holiday and share your new experiences with like-minded people and surf together, then the WAVE CULTURE Surf Camp on Tenerife is just right for you, your friends and your family – far away from mass tourism and yet very close to the best surf spots in the south of the island and many other attractions Tenerife has to offer.
The island of superlatives also lives up to its name in terms of weather. With one of the best and most balanced climates in the world, Tenerife calls for the holiday season all year round with pleasantly warm average temperatures. The volcanic island sets its extremes with a unique microclimate that benefits its flora and fauna and awaits outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature lovers with plenty of variety and a landscape rich in contrasts.
Island for active holidaymakers, water sports enthusiasts and lovers of the ocean
The weather is consistently warm and invites to a beach holiday as well as to a surfing and active trip all year round.
An annual average temperature of around 24° hardly gives anyone a reason to complain about freezing cold or oppressive heat. Water temperatures of 19° between February and April and 23° from August to October offer very pleasant conditions for surfers who want to enjoy the Atlantic without blue lips, especially in winter.
An absolute highlight is sometimes encountered at the end of the winter season: the Pico del Teide is still covered in snow, but the water and the outside temperatures are already warm enough on some days to view this beautiful scenery from the line-up in board shorts or a bikini. “Summer Surf in Winter Wonderland. This is an experience that surfers will probably never forget.
The Teide determines the climate
The imposing volcano in the centre of the island divides Tenerife into two main climate zones: North and South.
In the north and east there is significantly more rainfall due to the north-east trade wind. This part of the island is known as the green part of the island. Due to the cloud cover slowed down by the Teide, the air here reaches a very high humidity, which benefits the vegetation and so you can enjoy a beautiful and very mature plant variety all year round. In the north, however, you have to reckon with more rain and significantly lower temperatures than in the south throughout the year.
In the south, on the other hand, it feels like summer all year round. Here, rain only falls a few days a month in the winter months. Mostly, however, in the higher altitudes and mountains, where landscapes such as San Miguel de Abona benefit from the nightly precipitation and fresher temperatures and contrast with their green vegetation with the very dry south of the coast.
The island of eternal spring
It is not without reason that Tenerife is also called the island of eternal spring. The largest of the Canary Islands impresses with a year-round mild climate that is unique in Europe, with an average annual temperature of 23° Celsius.
In Tenerife the sun shines on more than 300 days a year, and the number of sunny days is even higher in the south than in the north of the island. The average duration of sunshine is about 10 hours in summer and at least 6 hours in the winter months, with a pleasant daytime temperature of 20 to 25 degrees. In the coldest month, you can expect about 16° Celsius in the north and about 24° Celsius in the south.
Beach weather can be guaranteed all year round, with the exception of a few days. In August, the warmest month, Santa Cruz, in the north-east of the island, has an average of 25° Celsius, in the south 28° Celsius and sometimes even warmer. The temperatures offer perfect conditions for a surf and beach holiday for water sports enthusiasts and outdoor fans all year round.
From flip-flops to winter jacket in one day
Even if you can hardly imagine it, at the same moment you can find temperature differences of over 20° on the island. This is called a microclimate, which means that you should pack flip-flops and shorts as well as a bobble hat and winter jacket when driving through the island due to the constant and ever-changing altitudes.
For example, if you leave the beach in Las Américas and drive up to the Teide National Park, you will go from 0 to more than 2,500 metres above sea level, with temperatures plummeting. You literally jump out of your swimming shorts into your anorak and after about an hour’s drive you are standing in the snow with your flip-flops on. Even at slightly higher altitudes, from 400 metres, you can feel temperature differences between 5-10 degrees. It is really pleasant in high summer, when you can breathe a sigh of relief after a hot day on the south coast in the higher-lying villages and end the day in pleasant temperatures.
When the Sahara wind blows across the island
You have rust-coloured dust on your rental car, the air is dry and tastes of sand. The wind is hot and somehow everything is hazy. Even the horizon is no longer visible. Yes, this is Calima – a weather situation with an easterly wind, also known simply as the “Sahara wind”. It brings very dry and warm air with an easterly flow, bringing fine sand dust with it.
A high-pressure area over the Sahara increases the temperature and reduces the humidity. Visibility is then slightly cloudy, the weather seems somehow “bad” despite high temperatures. On these days, many underestimate the strength of the sun, which the fine sand apparently does not let through to us.
Attention: Don’t make the mistake of forgetting your sunscreen on these dusty grey “Calima days”. Squeezing into a wetsuit with a crab-red burn is really no fun.
About the author
The graduate translator from Cologne has been living under the sun of Tenerife for several years. Here she works as a camp manager, author, blogger, and certified surf instructor, among other responsibilities. She is constantly chatting in different languages and is always involved in exciting new projects. When she’s not working, surfing, or travelling, you can find her hiking or apnea fishing.