In southwest France lies a surf town that is nothing short of hallowed ground. Some of Hossegor’s magic can be put down to an underwater canyon that stretches out into the mighty Bay of Biscay.
This canyon allows powerful swells to roll in uninterrupted, and unload on Hossegor’s shallow sandbanks. The result of this fortunate geography is endless, ruler-edge, hollow barrels that surfers from all over the world flock to in search of their share of perfection.
Thankfully, and while there are plenty of pumping days, where the waves can be anywhere from 6 – 15ft+, Hossegor dishes up its fair share of perfect smaller waves for beginner and intermediate surfers to revel in too.
That’s the beauty of Hossegor, it doesn’t matter whether it’s maxing out or 2 feet, there will be multiple sandbanks along this stretch serving up perfect waves.
Out of the surf, Hossegor is a thriving seaside town in the summer months, with parties happening every night, and a low-key, chic French vibe about the place. To make sure you’re straight into the best of everything that Hossegor has to offer, this guide is here to help.
Where is Hossegor?
As we’ve already hinted, Hossegor is located in the Department of Les Landes in Southwest France. This stretch of France is known for its endless sandy beaches, stunning lakes, and idyllic pine forests.
Hossegor itself is a two-hour drive south of Bordeaux, which features the largest international airport in the area. Biarritz is, depending on traffic, about a half-hour drive further south of Hossegor.
Biarritz has an airport that runs a small international service, predominantly in the summer months, to countries within Europe and the UK.
Getting To/ Around Hossegor
There’s no denying it, Hossegor can be an awkward place to get to if you don’t plan ahead. The town’s public transport is pretty dire, with a bus service that you really don’t want to rely on when the waves are pumping.
The best idea is to rent a car from the airport you fly into and keep it as your wave-scoring sidekick for the duration of your stay.
If you don’t drive, or you’re travelling on a budget, then your best bet is to get a train to Saint-Vincent-de-Tyrosse (which is a 10-minute drive from Hossegor) and get a taxi into town.
Once you’re in Hossegor, you will need to look for some wheels, and a pushbike or an electric bike is your best bet. Hossegor and its surrounding towns have some immaculate bike paths that make cycling this region a real joy.
When it’s low tide, you will see locals and tourists cruising up and down the beaches scouting out the best banks on electric, and fat-tire push bikes.
When to Surf in Hossegor
The season that you’re planning to visit Hossegor is super important as it’s a totally different place in the summer and winter. You know all those parties and good vibes we mentioned earlier on?
They close up and ship off come November and it’s really only the locals and a hardcore crew of surfers who stick it out for the winter months.
Summer (June – August)
Spending summer in Hossegor is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Sure, the swell isn’t always pumping, but the vibe around town surely makes up for a lack of waves.
French, Spanish, Italian, German, people from all over Europe and the world come to experience Hossegor in the height of summer. The days are long, the nights are longer, the weather is hot (averaging 80°F), and the water is pretty warm too, peaking in July and August at 72.14°F.
As far as the surf is concerned, Hossegor is rarely flat, so even on small days, you will find a 1 – 2ft wave somewhere along this stretch. The problem is, is that everyone else will be scouting around trying to get their share as well.
So super early mornings can be clever to get some waves in before the hoards make their way down to the beach and set up camp for the day.
Don’t get us wrong though, there is some really fun summer swells that light up the waves along Hossegor, and it’s not uncommon to be treated to 3-5ft surf for a few days at a time.
Especially as you enter August and the Atlantic starts to produce an eagerly anticipated early Autumn swell or two.
Autumn (September – October)
September and October are, without question, the two best months of the year in Hossegor. Although there’s still plenty of surfers in the water, the swarms of beginner European surfers have generally left town, and Hossegor can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Call it the golden period, call it a purple patch, call it what you want, but it is in these months that the waves start to really pump, while the water is still warm, and the weather pleasant.
You should expect waves in the 3 – 8ft range, with all-day light offshore winds greeting the swells, a regular occurrence.
This is the time when the iconic Quiksilver Pro surf contest runs each year, which is deemed the unofficial send-off of the summer. Open-invite industry parties are frequent while the content runs.
It’s also not uncommon to see the world’s best surfers picking off the best waves in the morning, and picking up supplies from one of the local boulangeries after.
The waves can get challenging from September onwards, so make sure you’ve got the skill level that’s needed to surf powerful, barreling beach breaks before paddling out, cause when Hossegor is on, it’s on.
Winter (November – February)
Although the calendar year tells a different story, where Hossegor is concerned, November is very much pooled in with winter. By the end of October, the weather is starting to feel cold, the waves are generally big, and a lot of people have skipped town for gentler pastures.
This is fine by whoever is sticking it out as you can score some insanely good sessions with just a handful of guys at this time of year.
The trouble is, is that there’s almost nowhere to hide when winter storms roll into Hossegor, and when it’s huge and onshore, there’s no reefs or point breaks to offer shelter.
So, depending on how long you’re looking to spend in Hossegor, winter can be a roll of the dice in terms of weather and waves.
You could rock up to consistent 4 – 6ft waves and offshore winds for a week straight, or you could be faced with 15 – 20ft sets unloading onto the outer break known as La Nord.
As far as the water temperature goes, it can get down to 54°F. Which, depending on where you’re from, can feel very cold or surprisingly warm for winter.
If you’re an experienced surfer who’s looking to spend a bit of time in Hossegor, then these months can feel like a winter wonderland, with the very real potential of getting the barrel of your life.
Spring (March – May)
Spring is a pretty cool time in Hossegor too. The summer crowds haven’t arrived yet, and there’s still ample scoring potential in the water. Especially in early spring, when the Atlantic is still super active and Hossegor is just on the warmer side of winter.
Expect the water to be a similar temp in March as it is in February, but as you enter April, the water will slowly warm to reach an average of 60°F in early May. The swell size will start to back off as well, and you’ll be treated to 2 – 6ft waves most days in Hossegor in the springtime.
Of course, just like anywhere, there will be flat spells too. But there is a much higher chance of scoring world-class waves in spring when compared to summer.
Large spring tides are at play in these months, so getting a sandbank at its perfect window of the tide can be a challenge to find. This means that being on the pulse, and a little “right place, right time” luck can work wonders for getting uncrowded waves up and down the beach.
What Wetsuit Is Recommended?
Depending on where you’re from, and your susceptibility to the cold, the ideal wetsuit thickness is open for interpretation, but this will be a good guide for Hossegor. Summer sees most surfers adorn 2/3mm wetsuits.
You will see surfers in short arm/ long leg, long arm/ short leg, shorties, and full steamers – there is no across-the-board wetsuit choice. Depending on the weather and time of day, you will even see some surfers in boardshorts and bikinis.
With the air temp reaching 87°F, and the water temp 72.14°F, can you really blame them?
As we’ve already mentioned, autumn in Hossegor is ideal because it holds onto the warm water of the summer. In September and early October, the water temp shouldn’t really dip below 70°F, which means your summer 2/3mm wetsuit is more than enough to keep you warm up until then.
By the end of October, there is a noticeable change in the water temp around Hossegor and a 4/3mm wetsuit will enter the conversation. By late November the water temps will drop below 60°F and 3mm boots and gloves will start to be worn by locals and tourists alike.
Winter can be considered cold in Hossegor, so good quality rubber is a must. However, if you own a premium 4/3mm wetsuit with an inner fleece lining, and watertight GBS seams, then you should get by just fine in the Hossegor winter.
Some surfers who feel the cold easily will wear a 5/3mm suit, but this is not considered the norm. You can just about get away with 3mm boots and gloves but it’s certainly not silly to bring 5mm boots along just in case.
Hoods and surf caps are adorned to take the bite out of the air temp, and those (brain freeze producing) first few duck dives.
If you’re taking a trip to Hossegor in the early spring, then boots and maybe even gloves will be required to have long sessions in comfort.
The water will ever so slowly start to warm up and, by sometime in April, most surfers will have ditched their wetsuit extras and happily wear just their 4/3mm suits.
If you’re getting to Hossegor in late Spring then there’s no need to bring any accessories, and, you’ll likely be able to get away with just bringing your 3/2mm suit.
Where To Surf In Hossegor
Now that we’ve got the formalities behind us, it’s surely about time we got to the meat of this article. Surfing in Hossegor can be tough, but if you know where to look, you should be able to find a suitable spot for your ability, and be paddling onto the best waves of the day (well that’s the idea anyway).
Although Capbreton isn’t technically part of Hossegor, it is most definitely worth adding anyway. Capbreton and Hossegor are divided by a stunning river mouth.
Known for its riverside restaurants, fish market, laidback lifestyle, and feeling a lot more french than Hossegor, Capbreton is a nice place to visit, even without chasing waves.
In the water, it’s all about the spot known as La Piste/ VVF. Also nicknamed “bunkers”, the beach is lined with old WWII bunkers that make for some impressive surf photography.
The wave breaks best at high tide and is known for steep drops, fast sections, and plenty of barrel opportunities. In summer, when the waves aren’t so vicious, it becomes extremely popular with beginner surfers, so expect to be sharing waves with a lot of people in Capbreton.
When the waves are big in Hossegor, La Sud is the only spot that will offer some respite and shelter from the thumping swells. This makes it a haven for beginner and intermediate surfers who are itching to get waves when everywhere else is maxing out.
It can be 10ft two hundred yards to the north at La Nord, and 2-3ft at La Sud. It breaks just north of the river mouth break wall and can produce fun right and left walls on its day.
It breaks best at low to mid-tide and ceases to break at high. Because of its ease, expect crowds all year round, with local longboarders enjoying the mellower waves of La Sud too.
In the summer months, La Nord is more or less a sleeping giant that lays dormant, waiting for winter to bring it back to life. Unlike the rest of the surf spots in Hossegor, La Nord is a deep water sandbank that sits about a hundred yards off the beach directly in front of Centrale.
It needs low tide and an extra-large swell to even think about breaking, and half the time it won’t. But when big NW winter swells align with a stint of offshore winds, it turns into a playground for big wave surfers.
You’ll see hardened locals paddling out on their 9ft+ guns, as well as pros doing step-offs into the towering waves. Waves that are big enough to fit a school bus in. Not for the faint of heart, you will want to know a thing or two about surfing big waves before you paddle out to La Nord.
La Graviere is the premier wave of Hossegor. It conveniently sits just a short 5-minute walk along the beach from Hossegor Centrale and is the contest site of the Quiksilver Pro each year.
La Graviere encompasses all that Hossegor is famous for, with powerful barreling waves breaking just meters from the shoreline. It is best a couple of hours either side of high, with offshore winds needed to hold the fast and hollow barrels open long enough to be exited.
La Graviere doesn’t really start doing its thing until the waves are at least 3 – 4ft, and it can hold up to 8 – 10ft of bone-crunching barrels on its day. Because it’s where the cameras and pro surfers flock to, La Grav is a competitive wave that you need luck on your side, to get a good one.
If you are experienced in powerful waves, then you’d be silly to not give La Graviere a go. You never know, you could be standing tall in the kind of barrel that you definitely would write home about.
Les Culs Nuls
Translating to “the bare arses”, don’t be alarmed if you spot some nakedness along this stretch of sand. Les Culs Nuls is one of Hossegor’s nudist beaches that just so happens to have some pretty epic sandbanks out front.
On any given day, there can be a left point-style beachy, a right rip bowl, and a thumping peak at Les Culs Nuls. The sands are forever shifting along this stretch, but the quality of waves rarely lessens.
Often, if the sand at La Graviere is being a bit weird, the Quiksilver Pro will move the whole show about a half-mile up the beach to Les Culs Nuls. Les Culs Nuls can break at 1ft – 10ft, and it is always worth a check if you’re scouting around for waves.
Les Estagnots is known for its chill summer vibes, and good waves. Only a few hundred yards north of Culs Nuls, Les Estagnots is one of the most consistent spots of the area.
Les Estagnots features a large beach car park that has played a big part in its popularity over the years. Les Estagnots is essentially a sequence of sandbanks that break at low to mid tide out the back, with some fun shorey’s and rip bowls to be had as the tide pushes up.
Barrels, turns, air sections, you can experience it all at Les Estagnots. Its banks are also so consistent, that you’d be very unlucky not to find some waves here.
When you’re salt-crusted and tired from a day of waves, pitch up at the beach bar with your toes in the sand, and sip something cold while watching the sunset over the surf – you will know why you came to Hossegor.
Les Bourdaines is the next spot in line on this magical stretch of sand. A mile north as the crow flies from Les Estagnots, Bourdaines is a little less popular than Estagnots, with a smaller car park and fewer facilities.
Though, the waves can be just as, if not, better than Estagnots, with multiple peaks up and down the beach. Again, Bourdaines can break at all levels of the tide, with the waves moving onto the inside bank at high, and thumping on the outer bank at low.
Bourdaines does have the potential to close out when the waves get over 5-6ft, but any size below this and you should be scoring some really fun waves all day long. There’s no beach bar in Bourdaines, but there is a nightclub aptly named “Le Tube” that heaves all summer long.
Where Les Bourdaines is the quieter, less developed spot along this stretch, Le Penon is anything but. It’s almost like a mini-town in itself, with restaurants, shops, a water park, and stacks of panini and burger bars conveniently located just by the beach entrance.
Le Penon is a good spot to check when the tide is mid to high, as it’s known for consistent hightide banks with very rippable walls. The low tide banks aren’t quite as consistent as they are at Les Estagnots or Les Bourdaines, but they’re still definitely worth a check, especially on smaller days.
If you enjoy surfing on concrete, there’s a fun skatepark that’s just to the north of the beach entrance, with a succession of bowls, bumps, and ramps to shred. Just be mindful of the sand that blows in from the dunes and collects in the park, as it can make for some slippery sections of concrete.
Where To Stay
Hossegor has a bunch of great surf houses, and camps that run sleek, tailor-made surf programs in the summer months.
May through to October you should have no trouble finding a decent camp that offers complete surf packages including lessons, rentals, transport, and meals. Yoga is also gaining traction in surf camps, as being limber goes hand in hand with a good performance in the water.
One thing you should always consider is how close to the action a surf camp is. You’ll find a lot of the camps are within a stone’s throw from spots like La Graviere and Les Estagnots, but be careful, as there are others located on the outskirts of town (a good 3-5 miles from the beach).
Of course, they will have their own transport service, and there’s always the option of renting a bike, but you just can’t beat staying down by the beach. In winter, surf-style accommodation becomes pretty scarce around Hossegor, and you’ll need to scope out hotels and Airbnbs instead.
So that you’re in the know before you go, we’ve collected together a few of our favorite places to stay in Hossegor and listed them below.
Southwest Surf House
Koala Surf House
Soul Rider Camp
Les Hortensais Du Lac
Hotel Du Parc
Things To Do When You’re Surfed Out Or It’s Flat
A flat day on the horizon may get you bummed initially, but trust us when we say you won’t run out of things to do around Hossegor. Even if the surf has been pumping, taking a day off will help to recharge the batteries, and give you a fresh perspective of this glorious part of France.
The zone is an industrial area on the outskirts of Hossegor that’s known for its surf shops and surf industry outlet shops. Think of it as a big shopping center, except that each shop is a warehouse, and it’s filled with surf gear and boards.
You can easily spend a half-day perusing the shops here which include Quiksilver, Billabong, Vans, Globe, Carhart, as well as boutique-style surf shops with fashion-focused brands.
There are plenty of delicious take-out options in the Zone, some healthy, some not so much. Restaurants, organic food markets, specialty coffee, the place is a bustling town in itself, and something that is not to be missed.
You can find some insanely hot deals on last season’s threads right alongside the latest drops and releases.
Walk The Lac d’Hossegor
One of the pride and joys of Hossegor is its lake. Stretching 3.7 miles, taking a walk around the lake’s perimeter is a must-do while in town. Although it’s termed a lake, and it most certainly looks like a lake, lac d’Hossegor is actually connected to the ocean, and is, therefore, dictated by the tides.
The Western side of the lake has a few idyllic beaches that are popular with young families. Cafes line the lake on all sides, so if you get a little thirsty along the way, then you are well looked after.
However, if you’re looking for a quintessential Hossegor experience, then you really must dine at one of the iconic Oyster restaurants that line the northern end of the lake.
Fresh oysters are delivered every day to this popular string of restaurants from the working oyster farm of the lake, and it is a beautiful thing indeed.
The view from these restaurants with the lake right in front, and the Pyrenees off in the distance, is a view that you aren’t likely to forget in a hurry. Oysters, wine, sunshine, if you’re going to visit the Southwest of France, you might as well do it in style.
Day Trip To Biarritz
Biarritz is a chic oceanside city that feels a world away from the low-key surf-hub of Hossegor. Sure, there’s some really good surf in and around Biarritz, but it tends to attract a different kind of tourist, we’ll put it that way.
Biarritz is very popular with Parisians on their summer holidays, so dressing well comes with the territory in Biarritz. It‘s also a pillar of the French Basque, so expect to see a lot of the houses and apartments finished with green and red trim.
Biarritz has it all, designer stores, upmarket restaurants, quirky bars, a thriving innercity food market, a seaside casino, and plenty of jaw-dropping architecture to take in.
Its geography is also a world away from Hossegor, with twisting cliffs and hidden bays lined along its coast. Walk the coastal path from Grande Plage to the well-known surfing beach “Cote des Basques” to really get an insight into just how stunning this city really is.
There’s a reason why Hossegor is on every traveling surfer’s bucket list. The mix of world-class beach breaks, french culture, amazing food, delicious wine, and temperate weather is way too good to pass up.
Whether you’re looking to score the waves of your life, learn to surf, or tuck into your very first barrel, depending on the year, this is all possible in Hossegor.
We hope this article has given you a good insight into the how, and when of approaching these hallowed sands, so that you’ll be scoring some sweet French beach breaks soon.