Europe: the continent of big wave surfing

Europe has shown its potential for big wave surfing. A world record for the largest wave ever surfed can easily be broken in the Old Continent. So, where are located the highest peaks?


Surfing was not born in Europe. Not even big wave surfing. But the Old Continent has a long Atlantic tradition, when it comes to powerful swells.

The North Atlantic waters, in particular, have been creating groundswells since the beginning of time, and surfers know well the energy behind these waves.

The European big wave surfing scene is still young. In the early 1990s, big wave hunters started exploring new frontiers of wintertime action, in a professional and active way.

Praia do Norte, Nazaré: getting bigger every year

Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, Portugal, currently holds the official record for the largest wave ever surfed. The local underwater canyon, plus a happy combination of local winds and currents result in one of the most perfect A-frame big waves the world has ever seen. The danger factor is an adrenaline bonus. Enjoys SW-N swells.

Punta Galea, Basque Country: watch the cliffs ahead

Punta Galea, in the Spanish Basque Country, near Getxo, is serious right hand point break offering long carving walls and barrel sections. Here, you'll find some of the strongest currents in the world. In big days, watch out. The wave breaks at the bottom of a deadly 60-meter cliff. Enjoys N swells.

Belharra, French Basque Country: an offshore nightmare

Belharra is a well-known reef break located off Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the French Basque Country. It usually breaks in low tide, unless wave height reaches the upper level. The big wave spot must be accessed by boat, as it breaks 2,5 kilometers offshore. Enjoys NW swells.

La Vaca, Santander: thick walls of water are waiting for you

La Vaca is located at the El Bocal beach, near Santander, Spain. It was discovered in 2006 by two Cantabrian surfers, Óscar Gómez and Luis García. Its massive thick wall of water is no problem, compared with the strong currents and dangerous underwater floor. Enjoys N-NW swells.

The Cribbar, Cornwall: first surfed in 1966

The Cribbar is located off the Towan Headland, in Newquay, Cornwall, UK. This is one of the oldest big wave spots in Europe. It was first surfed, in 1966, by Ric Friar, Pete Russell, Johnny McElroy and Jack Lydgate. Also known as the "Widow Maker", The Cribbar is a steep, treacherous, fast and hollow adventure that may end up in the rocky cliff. Enjoys SW-NW swells.

Mullaghmore Head, County Sligo: don't wipeout here

Mullaghmore Head is the most famous big wave surf spot in Ireland. The wild righthand reef break can only be challenged in high tide. If you dare to get barreled, prepare you mindset for the worst. A wipeout at Mullaghmore Head hurts. Enjoys W-NW swells.

Aileens, Cliffs of Moher: the perfect wave

Aileens has been hailed as "the perfect wave". Despite the rip currents and the reef below, this is one of the Irish jewels, in the triple overhead surf category. In big days, from the Cliffs of Moher, you can easily spot the beast in action. Enjoys E-SE swells.

Discover the best big wave surf spots in the world.