I Love Surfing Guethary
Basque country is one of Europe’s surfing hotspots. There’s no real secret about that. I just love being there. The food, the people, the waves, just pure enjoyment. And if you don’t mind getting your longboard out in big waves, you will love surfing Guethary too.
A few years ago one of my surfing buddies took me to an amazing surf spot near Biarritz, France. Back then I was on my shortboard but immediately fell in love with the place. We parked on top of an hill that overlooked a reef break. I saw quite a few longboarders in the water. As we walked down the muddy steps the anticipation grew. Within no-time my mate snapped his longboard and I was getting nowhere myself and so we left. But as I stood on the hill once more, I promised myself to come back to this place with a longboard of my own. At that time I still had no clue to where I was.
So when I was back in the area last week, I set out on a mission to find that magic spot again. I looked on a map and decided to aim for a beach called Parlementia. With help of my memory and a little bit of luck I found myself back on the hill overlooking awesome waves. It’s a lot bigger than the last time I was here. Oh well, time to get uncomfortable.
Getting Caught Inside
The main break is pretty far off the coast and as I paddle out, I remember something different about this place. I kept getting caught inside. Better paddle a bit wider this time. But as I comfortably sit on the shoulder, or at least I thought I did, I see some green monsters popping up on my left. Too far on my left to escape, so I start paddling as hard I can, but there really is no escaping. I ditch my board and dive as deep as I can but still get worked. Before I know it, I get caught inside by a constant stream of dumping waves. There’s no choice but to take the circle of shame. As I make my way back to safety I promise myself that won’t happen again. Unfortunately, I can’t keep my promise and on my second attempt I get caught again. What’s going on here?!
After this second failure, I take a bit more time to analyse the wave and realize that they come in much more under an angle than normal. So where you would normally sit in safety, now you sit and wait to fall prey to the ocean. I start to figure it out and start catching waves. Not the big ones yet, but they are still easy overhead and probably the most fun longboard waves I had. After I paddle for a wave, and miss, I look back only to see another big set approaching the line-up. There’s no choice, head down, paddle, and hope for the best. In the mean time the sun has sunk to the horizon. The sky is still grey and filled with rain. As the set waves start standing up, they get lit by the setting sun and turn into a beautiful green colour. Because of the strong winds the top of the waves are spraying white foam, which to me look like teeth that try to eat me. It’s impossible to say if there are any surfers racing towards me, so I just hope that I’m not in anybodies way and get run over.
Photo: I Love Surfing / Annemat
As I find myself out the back, I figure that I might as well take one of the big ones while I’m here. I realize that I haven’t even took the time to look around and actually take in where I’m surfing. Somehow, that happens every now and then. I just get too focussed on the waves and totally forget to enjoy what I’m doing and where I’m doing it. And so I sit and wait and look. Gosh, this place is nice. The bars and waterside restaurants are filling up and the night life is about to begin. A couple of locals, or at least they look local, start paddling because there’s another big set coming in. I respect the peck order and await my turn. Luckily there’s a set wave left after the others had theirs. I get quite excited as I get to the point of no return. The wave takes me along and I take off on my biggest wave on my longboard ever. The drop is steep and intense. After that, I can start enjoying the wave and surf it all the way to the inside. Time to get back to the beach. It’s starting to get dark and bits of the reef are starting to pop-up. One more challenge remains. Get out without damaging my board.
This is Guethary
I get to the restaurant a.k.a. Guethappy and a nice portion of the tastiest calamaris awaits. Next to me stands a man still in his wetsuit as he orders a beer at the open kitchen window. I start talking to him in English because my French is a bit rusty. I compliment him on his performance out there. He’s a local, that’s obvious. I am a bit ashamed because I still don’t know what the spot is called but I know I should. He looks very surprised at me and says “Well Guethary”. Of course I heard of Guethary before, I just had no idea that this was it. My session immediately gets even more special. The man explains that his father used to surf this spot when hardly anyone knew it, and that he has been surfing it all his life. Now he’s old, has a bad shoulder and hip, so only goes out on the best days. I feel lucky that this was one of them. I have been surfing Guethary and it won’t be my last!
Guethary or Parlementia
These days there is a little bit of discussion about what the spot is called but for the locals there is no doubt, it’s Guethary. The beach is called ‘Parlementia’ and a while ago the city of Bidart organised a contest. Because they paid for it and not the neighbouring city of Guethary, they said it was held at Parlementia.
Surfing Guethary how it’s done