A guide to surfing in Hossegor
Hossegor’s fast, hollow waves draw an ever growing number of surfers from around the world. The beach at Hossegor spans three kilometres, and although it’s just one stretch of sand, there are four very distinctive surf spots. South of Estagnots, Les Culs Nus bridges the gap between Seignosse’s beachbreaks and the legendary Hossegor tubes of La Gravière. On its day, La Nord, can hold shape up to 6 m. La Sud is the most beginner-friendly spot.
Watch this: 2015 Quiksilver & Roxy Pro France Highlights: Heart-Pounding Moments in Hossegor
As a surfing destination, Hossegor ticks all the boxes – beautiful beach, warm water, consistent swell and sandbanks that regularly kick up two metre turquoise barrels. Add to that a dose of French lifestyle, coffee and croissants, two hour lunches and pumping après-surf and it’s easy to see why surfers like ASP veteran, Kevin Olsen, came here and never left.
La Gravière’s sucky, heavy barrels break right on the beach making it a superb spot for expert surfers and spectators alike. As a result, Hossegor is firmly on the competition surfing map and each year the town plays host to a number of international competitions, including the Quiksilver Pro France held at the beginning of October.
Hossegor Surf Camps
A stay at a surf camp is a great way to discover Hossegor’s beaches, learn to surf, have fun and meet new like-minded people.
The Best Time of Year to go Surfing in Hossegor
Hossegor is one of France’s most consistent surf spots and you’ll get a wave here whatever time of year you come. Having said that, there’s huge variation in the conditions between seasons.
In July and August the waves are small and fun but the main peaks right along the beach will be packed with travelling surfers. When it’s on, you’ll still get a nice punchy wave at La Graviere and Les Culs Nus, but it’s these peak summer months when you’re most likely to get a flat spell. You’ve got to be really unlucky though to get no waves during a week’s holiday in Hossegor, even in the height of summer.
May and June are great months for a surf trip to Hossegor. The hectic winter swell and big spring tides have calmed down but there’s still some good push to the waves, the water’s getting warmer and the tourists have yet to arrive.
September and October is arguably the best time of year. The water’s still warm enough to surf in boardies, the waves are starting to pick up in size and the hoards of tourist have gone home. This is when the WSL Quik Pro France is held and there’s always a good vibe in town.
November through to April is when you can expect big heavy barrels, a lot of water moving around and ever-shifting sandbanks in powerful spring tides. You have to be paddle fit to surf Hossegor in winter, or you’ll find yourself doing a whole lot of duck diving and very little riding waves. If you’re on form, there’s huge rewards to be had and you could be tucking into the wave of your life.
It’s in the winter that Rip Curl run the La Nord Challenge big wave surfing competition.
Hossegor Surf Forecast
Hossegor, Les Culs Nus 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.
Hossegor surf forecast courtesy of surf-forecast.com.
2016 Quiksilver Pro France Spot Guide
Mick Fanning gets airborne at the Quik Pro France | © Lucia Griggi
The 2016 competition will take place primarily at Les Culs Nus, Hossegor’s naturist beach located to the north of La Gravière and south of Les Estagnots. The competion site is 200 m wide, about the length of two rugby pitches. At the Culs Nus, that means multiple good sand banks are working and the peaks are as heavy as ever. Expect some radical drops and great barrel rides.
As ever with surf comps in France, you have to be flexible and ready to move to the best spot at short notice. Bearing in mind we’re in beach break territory and the swell forecast is for big surf, if the Culs Nus banks shift and none of these peaks are working, the competition will probably move south to La Gravière.
As we saw late September, La Gravière is pumping out world-class waves this year. And, with some big swell expected for the first few days of competition it’s very likely that the comp will move. If that happens, the surfers will be stoked as La Gravière is the wave with the best in and out barrels in Hossegor. La Gravière is right opposite the Bay of Biscay continental shelf which creates a unique hollow and powerful wave that sometimes seems like it’s breaking right on the beach. Great for spectators and exciting for the surfers. But whether the comp stays in Les Culs Nus or moves to La Gravière, you can guarantee there will be barrels.
At the end of the day, the wind can change, the banks can move and the swell can come up or down. The one thing you can be sure of with the Quik Pro France is that you can’t predict the surf! However, the sand banks are looking good and some serious waves are expected, at least for the first couple of days of the comp.
Hossegor’s Surf Spots
Hossegor stays true to its reputation as challenging surfing destination. The ever shifting sandbanks, huge tides, varying swell direction and constantly changing wind means you can face a huge variety of conditions in a short surf trip here.
When it’s on you’ll get everything from small punchy little wedges to death defying tubes that either squeeze you out or close out altogether. The take-offs are fast and steep, there are ramps everywhere, and super-fast sections to pump out speed for aerials. Hossegor has got that ‘you never know what’s going to happen’ factor. Tube sections might stay open for you or they might come smashing down on your head. As a result, Hossegor suits paddle-fit surfers who are proactively seeking out position and prepared to go for it on 50/50 take offs.
There’s a big difference between spots though, and here we run through exactly what you can expect from Les Culs Nus to La Sud.
Kevin’s take: Former ASP pro surfer Kevin Olsen gives us his take on Hossegor’s surf spots.
Former pro surfer and South Africa team coach, Kevin Olsen, now provides private surf coaching sessions and surf guiding around Hossegor, Seignosse and Capbreton and will show you the best spots on the day. For each spot covered below, Kevin offers his take on Hossegor’s world famous waves. Kevin owns and runs Plonka Surfboards and the Seignosse Surf Villa, a luxury surf and yoga retreat located just 5 minutes from the beach.
1. Les Culs Nus
Spot type: Beachbreak. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: All.
Wave size: 0.3 to 2.4 m. Swell direction: West, North Lat Long: 43.680053, -1.438660.
Les Culs Nus translates as bare bums, and yes, the scenery can be a bit distracting when you’re trying to focus on nailing the next section of wave! Renowned for being Hossegor’s most consistent spot, there are rideable waves here from half a metre to over 2.5 metres. It works at low tide, at high tide, and in a northerly or southerly swell. You can expect a fast, punchy wave with a steep drop that bridges the gap between the classic Seignosse beachbreaks further north and La Gravière’s bone-crunching barrels.
Located just 500m North of Hossegor central and la Graviere – this gem of a spot can be possibly one of the best places to surf when the swells in the 1-2 m range if the winds are offshore and the tides right expect to get hollow pits from all the direction works best with the North- West swell directions and the lower tide. Early morning session can be best with no crowds.
2. La Gravière
Spot type: Beachbreak. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Outgoing.
Wave size: 0.5 to 2.5 m. Swell direction: West, North Lat Long: 43.670783, -1.439641.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s best beachbreaks, La Gravière is a tube hound’s dream. Fast, hollow and heavy-lipped, the wave sucks sand up off the bottom and slams right on the beach. Add powerful rips and protective locals to the mix and you have a gnarly spot reserved for expert surfers only. La Gravière works best on an outgoing tide and can hold shape up to 2.5 metres. On an incoming tide, it’s prone to close-outs and at high tide there’s nothing to ride.
Now this is my all time favourite. When it works (you need to check the banks and conditions) this wave had legendary status and the world’s best surfers come here to get the same ride. Speeding hollow sand spitting barrels on the beach. Now add the biggest most dangerous shore break you have ever seen. This is La Garvière at its best. Expect heavy surf conditions super close the the beach. Very tidal surf spot.
3. La Nord
Spot type: Beachbreak. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid
Wave size: 0.5 to 2.5 m. Swell direction: West, North Lat Long: 43.666755, -1.440622.
Hossegor’s big wave spot, La Nord can hold shape up to 6 m and is one of the only surfable spots along this stretch of coastline when the swell gets over 3 m. La Nord is the location of choice for the annual Rip Curl Challenge La Nord winter surf comp that sees some of the France’s best big wave surfers, including Benjamin Sanchis and Eric Rebiere paddle into 5 m monsters. Only paddle out here if you can handle double overhead conditions. Park in front of Boulevard de la Dune, the spot is opposite Hossegor Surf Club.
One of the most respected waves in Hossegor. The wave in front of Hossegor Central breaks out front and way out there when it’s 2m and bigger. Very big and late drops expect to go and get your longer board as the paddle out can be brutal and the currents are incredible and can be like a raging river at times. Freaks me out. Very tidal surf spot and can be crowded at times, but the surf is best at low tide with light winds.
4. La Sud
Spot type: Beachbreak. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Outgoing.
Wave size: 1.5 to 6.0 m. Swell direction: West, North Lat Long: 43.660283, -1.443435.
South of La Centrale towards the lighthouse is Hossegor’s most sheltered spot. Beginner-friendly, La Sud is popular with surf schools and kamikaze first-timers and it’s absolute pandemonium in the height of summer. The wave at the southernmost end of the beach has a shallower take-off that appeals to longboarders. Other peaks tend to throw mostly lefts. The break works best a couple of hours before high tide and stops working at high tide. Out of season, when it’s big further north, La Sud draws the intermediate crowd.
Just to the South of Hossegor you will find La Sud located just near the harbour and works on most days if the swell and the sand banks are good. If the swells are large this could be your first option to catch a couple waves if everything else fails. When the sand banks are good the the lefts running towards Hossegor plage can be long and fun. It is perfect for surf school and learner surfers, but can still be very surfable when the swells are large in Seignosse. Gets very crowded in summer.
Where to stay, eat and party in Hossegor. Our active traveller’s guide to Hossegor gives you the lowdown on fun things to do, including surfing, kitesurfing, SUP and mountain biking, plus accommodation options for all budgets, a selection of our favourite places to eat and Hossegor’s top night spots.
Please leave a comment below if you need specific advice for your surf trip to Hossegor, or if you have any recommendations to help us improve this guide. Happy holidays!