Hotel OxoHotel in Biarritz
One of the loveliest villages on the Basque coast, Mundaka lies next to the mouth of the river of the same name at the heart of the Urdaibai Nature Reserve, offering stunning scenery, glorious sunrises and peaceful strolls along streets that have retained all the charm of a little fishing village.
A unique lodging on one of the most stunning parts of the Cantabrian coastline next to the Mundaka inlet. Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and inspired by the popular English architecture of that period. Its huge picture windows and glassed-in galleries give the hotel its distinct personality. Cosy, comfortable, tastefully decorated and renovated rooms, all of which are exterior, are equipped with a full bathroom, telephone, mini-bar, piped music and satellite TV. As a regular customer’s request a sauna has been provided in order to be enjoyed after the working day or as a complement to leisure activities. TIP: Balcony room for surfers.
“We recently stayed at Hotel Atelaya for two nights while visiting Mundaka during our honeymoon. It was one of our favorite accommodations during our trip. When I originally booked, I knew to ask for a room on the top floor with a balcony, but they had already been reserved. I mentioned we were on our honeymoon and if one of the balcony rooms opened up we’d love to take it. Sure enough, when we arrived a few months later, we had the best room in the hotel with a wrap-around balcony with a view of the ocean! The room is very big and is one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in. The shower is also fantastic. We loved the feel of the whole hotel, and they have a great restaurant with a patio also. Having the secure, gated parking lot on-site was also a huge plus for us. The hotel is in a great spot – right around the corner from the surf shop, and right near the boat pick-up that takes you to Laida Beach where we went everyday. The owner and staff are extremely friendly as well and made us feel right at home! Highly highly reccommed this hotel. If we come back to Mundaka we will definitely book here again.”
Owned and operated by the same family for a generation – with friendly service and a central setting. Just a really nice, simple 3 star hotel that is clean, well presented with nice hard beds and a good breakfast selection – and really cheap! Parking is gated – and parking is REALLY hard in Mundaka, with limited spaces and narrow streets. And remember to ask for room 32 – has a balcony and you can view the surf from it.
The Basque Country contains all types of reefs along with some world-class big-wave spots and, of course, a world-class rivermouth called Mundaka. There are plenty of good-quality beach breaks, although these are not as prevalent as those in neighbouring France or Cantabria. The Basque Country picks up less swell than the rest of the north coast, particularly if it comes from the west. In winter though, there is rarely any lack of swell. This area has the most spots that can handle big waves; one or two still rideable at 20 ft. There are also a host of spots surfable in stormy conditions and sheltered from strong W or SW winds. The worst wind direction is N or NE. With its proximity to France and the highly populated coastal cities of San Sebastian and Bilbao, the Basque Country is the most popular surfing area in Spain; it has the highest level of surfing, the most crowds and the largest number of surf shops. Boards range from modern shortboards, of which there are thousands available, to mini-guns and full rhino-chasers. Longboards are also very popular, particularly at certain spots such as La Triangular in Sopelana. Prime spots include the flawless left-hand rivermouth at Mundaka and the big-wave right, Meñakoz. This area probably suffers the most from seasonal variability, with larger differences between summer and winter surf. In general, the winter is the best time to visit.
Tucked into the corner of the bay of Biscay, Mundaka is a dream lefthand barrel and possibly the best rivermouth wave in the world. A scenic road leads to the pretty fishing village of Mundaka, located at the very end of an estuary, or ria. This Spanish Basque village is now a celebrated surfing spot and attracts wave riders from all over the world. A deep channel at the end of the Ria has helped to create a long triangular sandbank with the perfect angle for catching the NW swells. The more rain there’s been, the stronger the rivermouth flow, which in turn improves the quality of the sandbar. Thicker, longer and heavier barrels will result when the swell hits 4-6ft, the wind is from the S and the tide is low incoming. Conditions such as this will create a long barrelling tube with rides of up to 150-200 meters. From the word go the wave sucks up hard, making for steep challenging take-offs straight into a sick barrel section. The ensuing long, fast wall, allows a few turns if you are going close to warp speed. The final two sections of the wave can vary in quality depending on the sandbar, but frequently they offer hollow cylinders with less crowd pressure. These sections can be trickier with higher pockets and difficult to make sections. Getting out to the line-up is easy from the harbour steps and paddling out through the river flow that runs between the rocky cliffs and the take-off zone. This huge current of water can swiftly take you beyond the first peak and out to sea, making it difficult to hold position in the line up. If you get caught in the impact zone, ride the white water in and paddle back to the edge of the river, which will quickly deposit you back at the take-off zone. This is also the go when it’s big, rather than trying to paddle back out around the shoulder. The bigger the tidal range, the harder the rip will be pulling on the outgoing tide, and the bigger the tubes will be on the incoming tide. When the tide hits that magic point, between low and mid, the line-up will always be packed with locals from the surrounding area or Bilbao, French Basques and various international travellers. For the visiting surfer, mid tide and rising may be a better option, as the line-up will be far less hectic. However, like any jewel, perfect Mundaka is not easy to come by. The days when the right tide, right wind, and a good sized NW swell all come together are few and far between. To get 4-6ft waves at Mundaka, the beaches open to maximum swell have to be around 10-12ft.
When to Go
The Cantabrican Coast faces north: not too good for small westerly swells, however, it is ideal for the numerous, big NW swells. Many of these larger swells are accompanied by the low pressure system that produced them, which means offshore SW winds if the system is coming through the more southerly latitudes. Good conditions at Mundaka rarely last for more than two days, as the large swells required, drop off. Unless there’s a North Atlantic low pressure measuring less than 980Mb, then there’s no chance of waves. Therefore, this classy wave is only rideable about 50 days a year. The Urdaibi Valley funnels SW winds into a more southerly direction, whilst when a high pressure covers the country, the wind will frequently turn N-NE in the afternoons. Tide heights vary from 2-4 meters and greatly effect the wave quality. The BBK bank gives out free tide tables!