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Surfing in Point d’Arcachon-La Salie

Surfer waiting for waves at La Salie in Arcachon

A guide to surfing in Aracachon La Salie

The huge sandy beach south of Arcachon and La Teste de Buch offers some outstanding spots for surfing year round. Reliable conditions, Europe’s biggest sand dune and a laid back beach resort make Arcachon an ideal stop on your surf trip to south-west France.

SURF SEASON | SURF FORECAST | SPOT GUIDE | ACCOMMODATION

The stretch of sand between Arcachon and Biscarrosse is famous for its mahoosive sand dune, the Dune du Pilat which attracts hoards of tourists and paragliders. But, surfers are drawn here too. Immediately to the south of the dune, uninterrupted Atlantic fetch and shifting sandbanks means you get the first Landes-style beachbreak with fast, steep waves and curling barrels.

There are a number of surf schools operating year round offering surf lessons for all levels and equipment rental. At La Salie Nord there’s a surfing info centre called Le S.P.O.T. which is open full time between May and October. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction with anything from finding the best wave for your ability and surfing style to hooking up with an instructor.

Access La Salie by heading to the Dune du Pilat and following the road south towards Biscarrosse. The spot is signposted right just after Le Petit Nice.

A surf trip to Arcachon and the surrounding area is sure to be memorable. With consistent surf, a relaxed vibe, the unmissable Dune du Pyla and beautiful Cap Ferret nearby it’s a great set up for a holiday whether you surf or not. So come and hit the waves, or simply enjoy the huge sandy beaches and watch your surfing buddies do their thing, Arcachon won’t disappoint.

Watch this: La Salie Pro

The Best Time of Year to go Surfing in Pointe d’Arcachon-La Salie

The size and power of the waves and the temperature of the water varies quite a lot between seasons. Some surfers prefer the winter when the swell’s bigger and the lineup less crowded and others favour the summer when you can surf in boardshorts and ride more mellow waves.

Summer in Arcachon is ideal for learning to surf. The only downside is the number of people in the water. The waves in the summer pack less of a punch than at other times of the year which is a good thing if you’re just starting out. There’s a tendency for an onshore wind come up in the afternoon which messes up the surf, so aim to get your surfing in in the morning or late evening. In July and August, the water hovers around the 20 degree mark so you can comfortably surf in boardies.

It’s a good idea to take a few lessons before taking on the waves by yourself and in the summer there’s surf schools up and down the coast ready to help you catch your first waves.

The shoulder season, May and June and September and October often produces great conditions for surfing. The waves are a bit more punchy, the water temperature’s pretty nice and there’s less people in the water. It’s a good time to be here as a surfer. You just need to keep an eye on the forecast and watch the shifting sandbanks so you can nail that perfect peak when it’s on.

In winter you get the most consistently good surf. From December to March, you’ll need a winter suit (a 4:3 does the trick) and booties. You can expect fast, powerful, barrelling waves and relatively few people in the water. To take on La Salie in winter, you need to be surfing fit. If you get your paddle arms in shape before you get out here you’ll be better able to stay out of trouble and you’ll and have a lot more fun.

Pointe d’Arcachon-La Salie Surf Forecast

Pointe d’Arcachon-La Salie surf forecast – surf report and surfing conditions for the next 3 days with swell components including wave height, wave direction and wave period, wind direction and weather forecast.

La Salie surf forecast courtesy of surf-forecast.com.

Arcachon La Salie Surf Spot Guide

1. La Salie Nord

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West Lat Long: 44.528796, -1.258906.

Duck dive at La Salie, Arcachon, La Test-de-Buch
Duck dive at La Salie, Arcachon, La Test-de-Buch | © Flickr – Jean Baptiste Roux

La Salie Nord is the most popular surf spot along this section of coastline. It gets consistently good waves and there’s quick access coming from Arcachon to the north or Biscarrosse to the south. It’s not unusual for the banks to shape some nice hollow waves and a good bodyboard shorebreak. Get more info on the surfing and organise surf lessons at Le SPOT info centre.

2. La Salie Sud

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West Lat Long: 44.518125, -1.255208.

Clear water at La Salie Sud
Clear water at La Salie Sud | © Flickr – Jean Baptiste Roux

If you exclude water quality, La Salie Sud is reputed to be one of the best spots on the Côte d’Argent. Consistent good swells produce some excellent waves. You have to earn your stripes to surf here though; the walk through the forest and over the dunes is seriously long. Another downer is the wharf outlet pipe that discharges a strange foam. The spot remains surprisingly crowded though, testament to the quality of the waves.

3. Wharf

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West Lat Long: 44.515848, -1.254876.

Sunny day at le Wharf
Sunny day at le Wharf | © Flickr – Jean Baptiste Roux

Le Wharf is the spot just to the south of La Salie Sud. The stinky discharge from the outlet pipe means the water isn’t the cleanest but the waves here can be really good and it doesn’t seem to put too many people off.

Places du stay

There’s lots of good accommodation options close to the beach in Arcachon.

You’ll find everything from swanky five star hotels to rustic B&Bs, and uber-cool boutique hotels to campsites on the beach. Here’s a selection of our favourite places to stay in Arcachon.

Hotel Le B d’Arcachon – Arcachon

From 120 € per night

Hotel Le B d'Arcachon

A modern boutique hotel in a great location right on the promenade overlooking Arcachon’s sandy beaches. Next door is a restaurant serving a mix of simple seafood dishes and fine dining. Comfortable air-conditioned rooms, free WiFi and a buffet breakfast served each morning.

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Camping de la Dune – Pyla-sur-Mer

From 72 € per night

Camping de la Dune in Pyla-sur-Mer

Located in Pyla-sur-Mer, 1.7 km from the Dune de Pyla, Camping de la Dune features an outdoor pool, tennis court, children’s playground, grocery shop and on-site restaurant. A top location for a surfing holiday you’re a short drive away from the surf spots of La Salie.

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Residhome Arcachon Plazza

From 72 € per night

Residence Arcachon Plazza self catering accommodation

Arcachon Plazza is a great option if you want to go self-catering. These spacious and well-equipped apartments occupy a central location near the market, shops and restaurants, with easy access to the beach. Enjoy morning croissants from the boulangerie on your balcony.

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Grand Hotel Richelieu – Arcachon

From 107 € per night

Grand Hotel Richelieu in Arcachon

With sea views and a central location on Boulevard de la Plage Grand Hotel Richelieu has direct access to the beach and is a great location for watersports. Comfortable rooms and a good breakfast with eggs made on request will set you up for and active day exploring the bay.

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Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your surf trip to Arcachon, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this guide. Bonnes vacances!

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