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Surfing in Lacanau

Perfect wave, Lacanau

A guide to surfing in Lacanau

Lacanau is one of France’s top surfing destinations. Testament to the quality of the spot, each August the beach resort hosts the Lacanau Pro, part of the WSL Qualifying Series which sees the top surfers battle it out for rankings on the world stage.

If you’re familiar with surfing in France, then you’ve probably heard of Lacanau. With its 14 km of sandy beach and sandbanks shaped by consistent westerly Atlantic swell, the days when you can’t surf are pretty rare.

The good waves and proximity to Bordeaux (it’s only an hour’s drive away) mean that it can get pretty crowded especially at the weekends and during the holidays.

Surf Schools and Surfboard Hire

The fact that it’s a popular spot does have its advantages though. For starters, it’s easy to find a board to rent and get a surf lesson. There are dozens of surf schools in Lacanau, so you can progress at your own pace under the safe supervision of a qualified instructor. That peace of mind helps a lot when you’re starting out.

Choosing your spot

Lacanau also has the advantage that it’s an easy place to check the surf. From the esplanade at Plage Centrale you can see the whole way up and down the beach. If you just want to park up and surf, the most convenient thing to do is to park at Lacanau Surf Club and paddle out at Plage Nord.

That said, always take some time to evaluate the conditions. The currents are strong and the waves can be fast and hollow. It’s not unusual for visiting surfers to get a bit of a surprise. If you want to head out when it’s big, make sure you’re paddle fit and up for it. If you’re not sure, hire an instructor.

Sleeping, eating and drinking

Lacanau is buzzing in the summer and there’s loads of bars and restaurants and good campsites near the surf spots.

Watch this: 2016 Médoc Océan Lacanau Pro Highlights

The Best Time of Year to go Surfing in Lacanau

Lacanau works best in a medium sized westerly to northwesterly swell and the best time of year is either side of the summer holidays. There’s less people in the water so the surfing is more relaxed, you’ll get more waves and you’ll progress quicker. At this time of year the water temperature is nice and warm. In May and June, you’re more than happy in a 3/2 and in September and October you can surf in boardshorts with a 2 mm rashy on your top half. You’ll also find that in the shoulder season, the swell is a bit more consistent than in July and August.

In winter, good surfers will enjoy the big swells and hollow barreling waves. If the cold water doesn’t put you off and you’re paddle fit, you can surf some amazing waves with relatively few people in the water. In winter it’s all about pulling on your 4/3 and booties and aiming for shorter more intense sessions.

Lacanau Surf Forecast

Lacanau 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.

Lacanau surf forecast courtesy of surf-forecast.com.

Lacanau Surf Spot Guide

1. L’Alexandre

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 45.039662, -1.197658.

Freesurfing in Lacanau
Freesurfing in Lacanau | © Flickr – Stephane

Located 4 km north of Lacanau Océan, the spot takes its name from the ramshackle house nestled in the forest behind the beach. There are loads of peaks that change position depending on the tide and the swell. The sandy road in means you can only drive so far and you need to walk the rest. Because it requires a bit of effort to get there, it’s a nice relaxed spot and there’s a good atmosphere in the water. You won’t have to walk up or down the beach too far to find a wave to yourself.

2. La Nord

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 45.008377, -1.201069.


Surf Lesson, Lacanau | © Flickr – Marief

La Nord is just to the north of Lacanau Surf Club, next to Banana Surf Shop Café. The spot is known for its long right that can serve up rides of a few hundred metres all the way to the beach.

A bit further north along the beach, you’ll find other less clean peaks. Its location opposite the surf club means the standard of the surfing is generally really high, making it sometimes quite hard to get a wave.

3. La Centrale

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 45.001524, -1.202185.

Aerial surfing during the WQS contest in Lacanau
Aerial surfing during the WQS contest in Lacanau | © Flickr – Stephane

La Centrale is an easily accessible spot, except in the height of summer when it can be hard to find a parking space. There’s plenty of surf shops along the beach front for hiring boards and organising lessons.

When it comes to waves, you’ll find a nice right straight opposite the lifeguards. And, just beyond the northernmost groin there’s often a good left. This peak is fairly reliable as the groin acts to fix the sand in place. As with everywhere in Lacanau, there’s a lot of water moving around and the currents can be strong. Plus, in summer it gets super crowded in the water here, which can be a bit off-putting if you’re just starting out.

4. La Sud

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 44.995218, -1.202660.

After surf in Lacanau
After surf in Lacanau | © Flickr – Louis Mateu

Another easily accessible spot, and a nice consistent left breaking by the southernmost groin. There’s also a decent right just before the Ecureuil lifeguard station. The constantly shifting sandbanks mean the peaks never stay put for long. Watch out for strong currents. As with La Centrale, there’s loads of surf schools operating here so there’s a lot of beginners in the water.

5. L’Ecureuil

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 44.993637, -1.203053.

WQS contest in Lacanau
WQS contest in Lacanau | © Flickr – Stephane

Ecureuil is named after the road which runs parallel with the spot. Shifting sand means the peaks aren’t very well defined and their position often changes. There’s generally a good atmosphere in the water but it remains a bit of a ‘locals’ spot. Best to respect the locals and surf here if there’s only one or two of you, and avoid paddling out in a big group.

6. Jah Point

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide to High tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 44.98626, -1.20389.

All surfers need a van, pine forest, Lacanau
All surfers need a van, pine forest, Lacanau| © Flickr – Milena

Jah Point is named after a local Lacanau surfer who surfed here in the 80s. Park at the first carpark heading south on the Route du Lion. It’s not the easiest spot to access. There’s a super steep sand dune to climb travelator-style, which will get you nicely warmed up before your session. The waves move around depending on the conditions and it’s a good option at high tide. Generally a good atmosphere in the water with not too many people.

7. Le Lion

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 44.98337, -1.2041.

Beautiful line up, Lacanau
Beautiful line up, Lacanau| © Flickr – Milena

Heading south on the Route du Lion, park up by the picnic tables. The surfing’s a bit haphazard and there’s irregular peaks popping off all over the place. In summer it’s a popular beach with holidaymakers and in front of the lifeguards it can get quite crowded in the water. Walk up or down the beach though and it’s a lot quieter.

8. La Barrière

Spot type: Beach. Offshore wind: Easterly. Bottom type: Sand. Best tide: Mid tide.
Wave size: 1 to 3 m. Swell direction: West, North/ West Lat Long: 44.985793, -1.204217.

Flying over the lip, Lacanau
Flying over the lip, Lacanau| © Flickr – Stéphane Vermell

La Barrière is Lacanau’s southernmost spot and if you can carry your board on your bike you can easily cycle the 2 km down Route du Lion to get here. It’s typical Aquitaine beachbreak territory with shifting sandbanks and inconsistent peaks popping off up and down the beach. It tends to be a bit quieter in the water even than Le Lion, and it’s where you come if you want to escape the crowds and have a chilled out surf. Bearing that in mind, it’s best to rock up in a small group and try to find a peak to yourselves. You can have a great session here when the conditions are right.

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

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