In Guéthary , halfway between Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, everything encourages a change of pace and living according to the surf sessions. More than a sport or a hobby, surfing here is an integral part of the local culture and imposes its relaxed lifestyle, respectful of others and the environment. You will fall for the charm and the bohemian atmosphere of this village among the most picturesque in the region. Find my selection of nuggets not to be missed during your next visit to Guéthary during the late season.
It's blue hour on Guéthary. The sun rises in pink vapors, letting the sky and the sea melt in a single azure blue. The freshness of the morning scents the iodized air and the dawn already vibrates to the rhythm of a ballet of contemplative surfers, with their eyes turned towards the horizon. The waves vanish in a shades of blue and perfectly restore the natural power of the landscapes . Immersion in a captivating atmosphere where an air of "dolce vita" is inseparable from this taste of adventure and adrenaline that surfing provides ...
Indeed, with its famous waves and its pleasant climate throughout the year, Guéthary is a very popular destination for the practice of this board sport . The locals surf here in all seasons, but autumn and winter are undoubtedly the best times to enjoy excellent conditions with a wind off and a generous swell, generated by large depressions. The spots are linked in Guéthary: reefs and beach breaks , left and right, waves for all levels of surfing , from beginner to pro, from longboard to shortboard .
In addition to the sweetness of life that reigns there, this charming village faces the famous surf spot of Parlementia . Often compared to the Hawaiian wave of Sunset, this legendary wave has been talked about for decades by fueling a debate between the inhabitants: is it in Guéthary or Bidart? In a neighborhood consensus, it should be concluded that it begins in Guéthary and ends in Bidard.
Surfing Parlementia, a unique experience!
On this benchmark spot in France in terms of “wholesale surfing”, the impressive wave of Parlementia offers a dream playground for thrill seekers . The perfect shape of this massive wave is due to the rocky bottoms. Reserved for very good surfers on vigorous swell days, it is better to be equipped with a gun , a long tapered board for speed, to hope to challenge it.
Further south, Avalanche , the wave in front of the pier at Alçyons beach also enjoys a good reputation among excellent surfers. A long left, which can reach 5 meters, unrolls by imposing a regular rhythm, power and speed. The Cenitz spot , adjoining Saint-Jean-de-Luz seems the most suitable for beginners and intermediate levels , with a nice left, quite long and softer. Guéthary is full of spots, whatever your surfing experience!
The terrace and its exceptional panorama
Whether you are a surf aficionado or just curious, observant addicted to sensationalism or image hunter, the "terrace" is a privileged point to contemplate the ocean and admire the spectacle! In the shade of the tamarisk trees, this large terrace, built in 1912, overlooks the ocean and offers an exceptional panorama of the Basque coast stretching from Biarritz to Fontarabie, a border town in the Spanish Basque Country. A VIP point of view to savor the look of surfers evolving on Parlementia or the sunset which sets the horizon on the horizon ... a must for a stay in Guéthary!
Nothing like starting the day sipping your little tea or coffee facing the ocean, on the seafront of Guéthary! In search of an authentic and relaxed beach bar where the wearing of shoes is optional, I make a first stop on the large terrace of the Heteroclito overlooking the spot of Parlementia. Unusual surroundings and conviviality guaranteed between regulars who come to sunbathe, passing visitors and a community of local surfer-watchers who chatter surf or watch, hypnotized, those who dare to challenge the wave.
On the heteroclito terrace
A meeting place for local surfers
Further down, on the beach promenade, the Ilunabar is a little corner of paradise lulled by the sound of the waves. Bahia Beach , at the end of Barognenia Road, offers a relaxed atmosphere in an idyllic setting. Depending on your tastes and desires, you choose the ideal place to instantly relax with a magical view of the ocean. It's hard to get more picturesque!
The Ilunabar and its plunging view of the ocean
Formerly known for whaling, the small port of Guéthary is irresistibly charming. Haven of tranquility sheltered by its dike dating from 1891, the port, in dry dock, accommodates around twenty pretty colorful boats used for recreational fishing : hake, squid, lobster ... A small beach of fine sand completes this true map landscape postal!
The charming port of Guéthary
25 km long from Bidart to Hendaye, the coastal path crosses Guéthary and allows you to discover magnificent panoramas between the horizon and the Pyrenees, with views of the Basque coast and the mountains . A walk is essential on this course punctuated by wild points and natural creeks. The contrast is striking between the dazzling green hills, from which typical Basque houses stand out, the ocean and vast expanses of pristine nature , cliffs and jagged rocks . A natural photogenic setting. The risk of getting lost is minimal when you walk along the coast, but if so, ask your local for directions. The sense of Basque hospitality is not just a legend!
Photos and Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide to the Basque Country