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Moroccan scenes.

Our Top 5 Winter Surf Trip Destinations

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter months can be trying on our love for surfing. If you’re local to Alaïa Bay, it means no waves at all or otherwise going full seal mode for 5 months of the year while facing storm swells. This leaves us wishing for some clean lines and warm sun – so check out our top 5 winter surf trip destinations for some inspiration.

No. 1: PENICHE

If beach breaks, with damn tasty wild caught fish and Portugese emerald waters are your thing, you’ll be happy in Peniche. The first of our top 5 winter surf trip destinations is home of the glorious A-frame, or ‘European Pipeline’ Supertubos, Peniche is a charismatic, cultured yet wild town on the west coast of Portugal. There’s something for everyone, with Baleal boasting a range of cruisey, log-friendly waves (like our Malibu) just a few kilometers from Supertubos. Just over from Baleal is Lagide, a right-hander reef break. If you’re lucky, you might get to see Peniche’s big wave spot, Papoa going off just out to sea.

While you’re here, you have to check out Taberna do Ganhão for the best seafood in town – but get there early, tables don’t hang around.

Emerald barrels in Peniche.

Emerald Barrels in Peniche, Portugal.

When: At its best from October through until the end of February. You’ll still want a full suit, but you can probably leave your booties and hood at home.

No. 2: FUERTEVENTURA

Fancy a rugged surf adventure, try visiting the volcanic archipelago of the Canaries. Fuerteventura is the second largest and oldest of this small island chain, estimated to have formed around 20 million years ago. A volcanic island in the Atlantic with over 10 spots on the north tip of the island alone, this is a dynamic place with incredible scenery.

However, this island is not for the faint-hearted. Littered with dozens of sharp urchin-covered reef breaks, you will feel the brute force of raging and windy swells hitting the coast of the island from all directions. In the north, you can find Spew Pits, or Las Lagunas where you can expect heavy, thick barrels in the winter. In the south, you can find slightly more friendly beach breaks like Cruz Roja.

Scoring shade in Fuerteventura

Scoring shade in Fuerteventura.

When: From mid-September to mid-April, the north reef breaks fire. The water here hovers around 20 degrees Celcius, so a summer suit 3:2 will do you just fine, but you may want to bring your boots as protection against the urchins.

No. 3: TAGHAZOUT

The dull grey of winter got you down? The landscape of Morocco, North Africa holds an eternal glowing gold tone that never gets old. On the west coast of Morocco sits Taghazout, a sleepy, wave-laden, and relaxed paradise of right-handers. Hosting everything from beginner-friendly beach breaks like Devil’s Rock to roaring hollowing reefs like Anchor Point.

Taghazout is an escape for when you want to slow your pace of life. It makes for the perfect remedy for the post-Christmas burnout.

Green room in Morocco.

Cruising in the green rooms of Taghazout.

When: Swells regularly pulse from October through until March. You’ll want full summer 3:2 for wintertime in Morocco.

No. 4: CANTABRIA

Enjoy some Basque waves in the pioneering town of Spanish surfing, with a range of small, cleaner waves to big wave spots. Catching all the swells that hurtle across the Bay of Biscay on their way to France, there’s nearly 150 miles of coastline boasting sheltered coves and vast beach-breaks to scope out. These long beaches are a shortboarders dream, if you like ripping short and sharp turns into the shoulder its the place for you.

Cantabria surf

Vast coastlines of Cantabria channel swell year-round.

When: All through autumn and winter you find swell, you’ll need at least a 4:3 from December to around April.

THE ALGARVE

On the golden coast of Portugal, there are always plenty of waves to go around around the rugged coastlines of the Algarve. You’re more than likely to score some heat and swell this winter. Its often quiet, with just a handful of full-time van dwellers and locals wintering in this stunning corner of the world. Even in January, you can comfortably camp in the mild climates of the Algarve, allowing you to fully switch off sleeping under the stars. Swells vary in the winter, but there are consistent swells that vary in size. Down in Sagres you can enjoy the dynamic cliffs and witness larger swells create mutant waves at breaks like Tonel. Of our top 5 winter surf trip destinations, this is one of our favourites.

Check out the small strech of cafes and restaurants along the streeet in Sagres between sessions. Picnic Sagres (@picnicsagres) and Arte Bianca are must-visits.

Tonel, Sagres.

Beasts rolling in at Tonel, Sagres. A wave not for the faint-hearted. Photo (Danni Pollock).

When: November until April is when the magic happens, but there are waves year-round. Typically a 3:2 will do you just fine, but on warm winters (obrigada El Nino and global warming) you can get away with a shortie if you’d prefer.

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