Surfing Tenerife, everything you need to know

Sunset surfing Bajamar in Tenerife
Beautiful sunset surf in the north of Tenerife

You want to go surfing in Tenerife? Or maybe one more time to Fuerteventura? Here is everything you need to know.

The Canary Islands, Europe’s Hawaii! All of the Canary Islands get a lot of tourists from every part of Europe. With year-round good weather, good waves, and cheap flights, a crowded lineup shouldn’t surprise you. Most people choose Fuerteventura if it comes to a surf trip to the Canaries. But what about the other islands?

Lets’ have a look at Tenerife for your next surf trip.

Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands, and has with the volcano Tide even a sometimes snow-covered peak! Thanks to this elevation, the weather in the north and south can be very different. Generally speaking, the south has often better weather and much less rain. This climate brought many big hotels and all-inclusive tourists to that part of the island. 

When to go?

Tenerife has great weather and waves all year round! The best time is probably winter, as the water stays nice and a 3/2mm wetsuit should always be enough. But you can easily surf in a shorty or boardshorts/ bikini from around March till October-November.

There are almost always waves for surfing in Tenerife. But they get much smaller during summertime. And you often rely on wind swells. These wind swells, and sometimes good south swells can be fun. Mainly on the south coast. But most of the good surf spots prefer proper swells from the north. They usually start around September, and are plentiful for the next 6 months.

2 hermanos tenerife
A small swell in September somewhere in the north. Still surfable and only 3 people in the water.

If you decide to go in summer or early autumn, your chances of unfavorable wind are pretty high! Especially on the north coast. But there will be fewer people than let’s say for Christmas. When I was there in September, the swells were small and the wind was strong! In other words, it could have been better! But we still found some fun waves every day. And maybe fewer people but smaller waves sound good to you anyways?

When I was there during December in another year, the waves were flawless every single day! And as there was always enough swell, we only surfed the waves in the south. But as this is still ocean surfing, you never know what you get!

In Short: It’s always a good time to go! Autumn is probably the most tricky, and deepest winter is the safest for ideal conditions. But if you’re more interested in smaller waves, late spring and summer can be just as good.

Where to go?

Surfing the south of Tenerife

Surf playa las americas tenerife
A lot of hotels, tourists, parties, and waves

Playa de Las Americas and Costa Adeje are the areas with the biggest hotel complexes and all-inclusive tourism. It is very close to the “Aeroporte de Tenerife Sur” and has surprisingly good waves. If you’re looking to get away from the bad winter weather and want to meet some people, have plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to party all night long, this is your place!

You will find a couple of good surf shops with a huge selection of great surfboards. To rent or to buy. The same goes for surf schools and surf camps.

Just in front of all the hotels and restaurants is a long reef with various places to surf. There is a nice walkway next to the beach, and you can easily stroll along and check one wave after the other. Some are beginner-friendly, and therefore packed with schools and learners. Others are more difficult, or with the right swell even heavy, world-class barreling waves! But be careful, some of the locals here are very protective of their waves and are not too happy if you take what they see as their own! But more about that later.

The waves in Las Americas

Surfspots las americas Tenerife
Surfspots along the boardwalk in Las Americas. (description below)

If we start from the south, there is a beach for swimmers and sunbathers called: Playa del Camison. It has usually very calm water. But just to the west of it, behind the breakwater, is a stretch of reef with various good peaks. Lefts and rights. It needs the right swell, and the waves are usually relatively short, but super good. (Nr. 1)

surfing tenerife las americas
Fun lefts and rights next to the jetty. (Spot Nr. 1) Photo: Ruby

If you keep walking to the west, you’ll see various options to surf (Nr. 2). It can be a bit tricky to get in and out of the water here, as the reef is relatively sharp. But it has usually not a lot of people here. You can also paddle there from Nr.1 or Nr.3.

The next wave that is surfed by more people is in front of the rusty piece of Art and is called “El Dedo”. (Nr. 3) This wave is super fun and often less crowded than others. I don’t know why?

Surf Tenerife el dedo
Good and relatively empty waves during a December swell at El Dedo. (Spot Nr. 3) Photo: Sandro Polli

On the other side of the pool right on the beach (you will see it), and within paddle distance, is first a left and then a right (Nr. 4). When they get good, the right can be world-class! But I don’t think that the locals are willing to share them with you when it’s on! 

As you keep walking, you’re passing a McDonald’s and will reach the most crowded surf spot here (Nr. 5). This is where all the beginners surf. It’s not a sand bottom beach, but rather a flat lava plate. Use reef booties (every surf school/ camp has them for you) and you should be fine. But once a real swell hits, the northern end of this lava shelf produces the famous left-hander: “Izquierda del Cartel” (Nr. 6). Another incredible wave with protective locals.

This stretch is really incredible! So many possible places to surf, right next to sunburned people who eat their Big Macs on the beach! If this is a nice place? Well, up to you to decide. But it’s certainly an easy winter getaway option with mostly good weather and everything you need aside from waves.

There are various other places with waves in the south. On the south coast as well as on the west. Las Americas is just the easiest (but not most beautiful) place to stay and surf.

Rent a car, go exploring and you will find other waves not too far away.

Surfing the north of Tenerife

tenerife north
Long and winding roads that lead to beautiful beaches with few people.

There is an airport in the north too. But thanks to the highway, it doesn’t take long to get from one airport to the other. So I would choose my flight depending on the schedule, rather than on what airport I would arrive at.

Most non-surfing tourists who go to the north of Tenerife stay somewhere close to Puerto de la Cruz. This is actually a surprisingly nice city with a couple of waves around too. Not too far to the west of it is “El Socorro”. Probably the best-known beach here for surfing. It gets rarely very good, but it’s super consistent. And if no other wave is breaking in the north, you probably still find something surfable here. But there are many waves along the whole north coast. You find most of them in all the surf guides and pages such as wannasurf.com or magicseaweed.com.

If you want to stay in the north, and surfing is why you’re here, you will most probably end up somewhere around Punta del Hidalgo/ Bajamar (title picture). This area is impressive if it comes to the number of surf spots too. Thanks to this, there are a few surf shops, surf camps and many nice apartments for rent (Airbnb).

In my experience, the locals are a bit more relaxed here than around Las Americas, but you still have to take it easy in the water.

I won’t talk much about the waves here, but you will see most of them from the street and easily figure out how to get there. I only surfed this area with small to medium swells and it was super fun and mellow. Some of the waves feel like they could hold some decent size and only get better with it. (check out Leon Glazer’s Video)

In case surfing Tenerife is all you want, this part of the island is great. But the weather is often not as good/ warm as in the south.

If you stay here a few days, you really have to make a trip to Taganana. It’s a very long, but scenic drive through the mountains and forest, and you’ll find some beaches with few people but fun waves.

playa de benijo
Playa de Benijo in the far north east (Taganana). Good beachbreak with few people. Especially during the week

What else to do?

If you plan to come surfing in Tenerife, make sure to rent a car. Sure, you can stay in Las Americas or in a surfcamp, and can do without a car. But you should rent one, even only for a few days. The drive through the middle of the island, and up to mount Tide is quite an experience and you’ll see unreal landscapes! Hiking is great too. There are many natural pools all along the north coast. And having a dip here and there, while exploring the little towns is perfect for a layday, or to relax your body in the afternoon.

In case you’re a fan of more touristy things, there are plenty of options for ocean activities such as snorkeling/ diving, jet-ski, etc. There is an amusement park and a huge Zoo (with a really bad reputation!) and of course countless great restaurants. In the north, you have to try a Pinchinche (Typical food only in the north of Tenerife), great seafood everywhere, and in the touristy areas everything from Indian to Italian or Thai food. And of course a lot of pubs and bars with live music every night. Thank the English tourists who have come here for decades!

The Locals

la esquierda del quartel
Izquierda del Cartel. Incredible wave to surf in Tenerife. (Spot Nr. 6) But be humble and take care with the locals

The local surfers of the Canary Islands have the reputation to be among the most aggressive in the world! Not on land. The Canarios are really friendly people. But if it comes to surfing Tenerife… This is unfortunately to big parts true! I even heard stories from surfers who grew up in the north of Tenerife, who had a hard time when they surf in the south!

Speaking from personal experience… I witnessed some sort of aggression almost every time when I was in the water in Las Americas. I saw incidents, where the locals picked a fight with a visiting surfer. Even though he did clearly nothing wrong. And I had sessions when some of the locals in the water tried really hard to make sure I won’t get any waves! And when I did, they dropped in on me!

What can you do against it? Not much!

Don’t paddle out in a pack. I always paddled out alone and tried to choose the peak with the fewest people. El Dedo was for whatever reason often almost empty early in the morning and I had as many waves as I wanted. On the other hand, if you surf “La Izquirda del Cartel” on a good day, the chances of having a hard time with the locals is most likely. Even if you do nothing wrong!

Be friendly and polite, wait your turn, don’t fight to get your right over waves (it’s just waves after all), and respect that it is the way it is. If you like it or not. Or, option # 1: Go looking for waves somewhere else, or # 2: Go surf the Siam Park wavepool!

Sure, Tenerife has a big surfing community and just as many surf tourists. But there is always a less crowded wave somewhere. And time your sessions good. Everyone wants to surf in the morning and before sunset. During midday, the waves are usually way less crowded. (Unless the beginner waves. They have surf schools on it almost all day long, but they usually don’t start until 9 am.) Midday is often not as good and has a bit of wind on it. But not as many people in the water.

And if the local people have to work in a normal job, they have to surf before and after work. This means fewer locals in the water during working hours.

So should I go to Tenerife, or maybe better to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote or Gran Canaria?

Las Americas sunset
Great waves in Las Americas (Nr. 4)

In my opinion, all of the Canary Islands are beautiful in their own way. If you want to see something different, I recommend going to all the islands at last once. They are all beautiful.

Tenerife is definitely the greenest of all of them and I like it a lot. If I like it more than the others? I wouldn’t say so. Just as much, but in a different way.

What I like about all the Canaries is, that they are small enough to actually drive around the whole island and really go and explore them in a week or two. Tenerife needs a bit more time than let’s say Lanzarote. But two weeks is great to see most of it and to get to know the surfing in Tenerife. It’s for sure worth a trip. Especially, if you want good weather while Europe is cold and grey, but you don’t want to fly too far. With direct flights from so many places all over Europe, it’s an easy and ideal getaway.

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