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.