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Surfing in Mazagón

Mazagón is popular because of its never-ending beaches, lush pine trees and the Doñana national park. However it also guards an important secret: its waves are coveted by those in search of the perfect wave.

By: Tertulia Andaluza

Wild beaches
Location: Mazagón (Huelva)
Difficulty: easy - medium
Stands out for: the waves, great for beginners and professionals alike
Did you know? the best season is between December and March. Ideal for winter surfing, although the water is colder than in Portugal

In January 2008, a group of professional Basque surfers including Indar Unanue and Ion Eizaguirre, travelled to Mazagón to check out the waves and write an article for the magazine Surfer Rule. “We knew that the coast of Huelva had potential but we didn’t expect to find such powerful and enjoyable waves,” admitted Eizaguirre. When the article was published, readers were extremely surprised to learn about a surfing destination that they had never heard of before.

Surfing is a relatively young discipline in Spain, especially in Andalusia. In 1968 Guillermo Morillo from Cadiz bought a board from a Mexican surfer for 500 pesetas. He didn’t go to Huelva until the early seventies when a group of young people from Matalascañas wanted to go and surf the waves. Given that it was next to impossible to get hold of the right gear nearby, they bought everything in Santander and San Sebastián. No-one even showed them how to stand up on the boards. They taught themselves tricks, and became the local surfing pioneers.

It is well known that surfing is not only a sport; it’s a way of life. Those from Huelva now have it in their veins, even though they often have to travel to Portugal to enjoy the waves. Surfing is on the up, and the number of related businesses, especially small surf shops, have multiplied. Juan José Fernández (Seville, 1964) became a pioneer when he set up a factory for making surf boards, Soul Surfboard. After 15 years in Matalascañas, he started to make a living from his favorite hobby, and his dream became a reality. Some of the best shapers in the world come to his workshop to make surf boards. He now has his own team of sponsored surfers, including his three sons who plan to go on to compete at a national level.

In Andalusia, Cadiz is generally recognised as the best place to surf. The most famous beaches and some of the best surfers in Andalusia are there. However, the waves in Mazagón are often just as good and the atmosphere pure, which is something that changed on most beaches a while back. The epicentre of the Huelva surfing scene is in Mazagón, more specifically in Bonares - because it is protected from the west wind. The road ends and the surroundings get wilder, making it the ideal place for surfers to feel at home. Surfers live their sport 24-hours a day. The hours spent outside the water exist only to plan what to do when out on the water!


· Ideal conditions: Wind from the north or north east. Sea currents from the east or the south. Waves over a metre high.

· Wind: In Mazagón, a heavy swell from the west and wind from the north are both necessary for the waves to come in with some power. This ideal combination usually occurs in winter and although the likelihood of waves coming in at other times of year is smaller, there can still be the odd day with great conditions.

· Type of waves: tubes, beach-break, and hollow waves.
· Sea bed: Sand without any obstructions.

· Wave strength: Medium

· Normal height of the wave: Waves 100m high are not unusual.

· Board required: Long and short boards

Thumbs up

The enthusiasm that some of the best surfers in the country showed for the area should encourage you to take your board down to Mazagón and try out incredible waves in beautiful surroundings. If you don’t feel very confident then don’t worry, this beach is also recommended for novices. The locals are very welcoming and don’t mind sharing their beaches.

Thumbs down

The petrol refinery and paper factories are only a few kilometres away. When the wind is blowing in from the north, surfers often notice that the water smells like gas which Fernández claims “can be quite unpleasant”. The dumping of residues in these waters can sometimes make the water go brown. “But this is normal because it’s in the Gulf of Cadiz and the mouth of the river Guadalquivir. The water becomes very muddy when there is westerly wind, turning a chocolate brown colour,” explains Fernández. Pollution is a much more pressing issue, as Mazagón is located near the Huelva’s port. “The water is actually quite good condition,” explains Iñaki Olano from Ecologists in Action. “The sea here is naturally quite murky. Boats entering the port of Huelva and cleaning the bilge may cause pollution but these problems are not serious”.